For centuries, Italian craftsmanship has been prized for its quality and beauty. That’s why luxury brands from Chanel to Prada have flocked to small Italian villages to find the best artisanal workshops and factories to make clothes, bags, and other accessories. But who are these talented craftspeople?
Elisa Rossi, an Italian native who worked at Apple and Square, believes that today’s consumer is less attracted to big flashy labels and is more interested in the real people who make their products. “In cities all over the U.S., people love farmers’ markets and microbreweries,” Rossi tells Fast Company. “They’re interested in the story behind what they buy.”
Today, Rossi is launching a startup called Milaner that attempts to bring luxury artisans directly to the people buying their products. For months, she’s scouted luxury craftspeople across Italy who make products for top luxury brands and partnered with them to make collections of limited-edition products. She has coined the phrase “human-to-human luxury” to describe this approach.
For the first month, the brand has made bags, sweaters, and hats. As an added bonus, customers will be able to customize each piece to their liking, choosing their own combination of colors, strap length, and other details. “Storytelling is the critical component here,” Rossi says. “We take time to make videos about the artisans and give the customer a glimpse into their studios. We want to use technology to create a real bond between the artisan and the person who will eventually be owning the product.”