When you’re in Florence, it’s a must to shop the leather markets and small boutiques for some of the city’s signature artisanry. Whether it’s a pair of leather trousers, a stylish jacket or a handbag, you’ll want to bring home some high-quality goods. But navigating the Italian leather market can be tricky. There are lots of vendors who try to sell you stuff and they’re not always honest about their quality.
One of the best ways to guarantee that you’re buying the real deal is to buy directly from the maker. That’s easy to do with smaller, portable items like boxes, wallets and change purses, but it’s much more difficult when you’re buying apparel. Look for the label simipelle or ecopelle. These are leathers made from recycled animal hides and are a good alternative to full-grain leather.
Another thing to keep in mind is how the bag or jacket is put together. Check the stitching, which should be tight and regular. Also, make sure all of the clasps and zippers are working properly and smoothly.
If you’re shopping in the Mercato Nuovo, also known as the Porcellino market (for the bronze pig that was rubbed smooth by superstitious travelers to ensure a return visit), be prepared to haggle a bit. However, you may be better off visiting some of the smaller leather boutiques in town to avoid the inflated prices of the larger leather markets. Benheart is a newer leather brand on the Florence scene and boasts fine, 100% made in Italy quality. Their trendy, artisan jackets and shoes are so popular that they’ve opened stores all over the world. florence leather bags