Alberto Bertoni and the tradition of making a luxury bag by hand.
It’s time to get ready to go out. Jacket, shoes, scarf and bag. You slip in your keys, phone, a lipstick and “clap”, you accompany with your hand the front fastening and then “tlin”, you insert the spring fastening into the button. You put Pulchra over your shoulder, a last glance in the mirror and the evening can start.
The bag comes to life and becomes part of you.
But before all this, before it had its shape, its sounds and its colours, the bag you are carrying with comfort and cheerfulness, your Pulchra, was a shapeless set of leather, velvet, thread and screws: materials which skillful hands picked up step by step to make it, people who have learned a trade, as they used to do, on the benches of workshops.
We use objects naturally, we love them, we make them our own, but what is fascinating is to think about how they took shape, about the hands that created them and the attentive eyes saw them before they became yours.
This is how Pulchra comes into being, in a workshop with a very long tradition, and a real passion for the construction of the bag. The story of this company, Valigeria Bertoni, starts in 1949 when Riccardo Bertoni, together with three other partners, starts to make trunks and travel goods. The years go by, the company becomes an important reference for the production of suitcases and in the meantime extends the range of its products, gradually offering a production with different types of leathers and materials.
Today Alberto Bertoni, together with his children, continues on the path taken by his father Riccardo, that of continually connecting the tradition of craftsmanship with new ideas, technologies and new energies.
We had a long chat with Alberto Bertoni, who took us with his heart into his world.
The first question was almost predictable.
Alberto, what do you like best in the construction of Pulchra?
I very much like the mixing of rigid and soft. I think that the effect of consistencies which characterizes this bag is really something special.
Pulchra is a bag that is the result of a long work of design and making prototypes, in which your experience of many years has played an important role. How did you learn the trade?
I learned the trade in the company. The workshop used to be under our home and from when I was small I would spend my free time there, watching the workers, I liked, let’s say, ““to steal the trade with my eyes.”
Together with your family you have great experience in giving shape to leather for luxury objects. What is the phase that you like best in this work?
The phase I like best is certainly the creative one. There is immense satisfaction in finding the practical solutions that lead to making products which, until that moment, had lived only in the drawings of professional designers.
This is exactly the case. We spent many hours with the designer together with Alberto Bertoni, following his eyes and his hands, concentrated on the creation of the prototype. Then this long creative process was also taken on to the workshop benches and Alberto’s team set to work. Only few highly skilled craftsmen dedicate the necessary time to each detail, in order to do the work well. There is no room for haste here.
Cutting and assembling, sewing the seams and inserting the metals and painting the borders are all actions which create gestures of the hands fed on patience and dedication.
The love for a bag arises long before you might imagine. It arises inside all these passages. In the eyes of those who do them, in the creative project that becomes matter.
And love is also what links a family story to all this.
Alberto learned his trade from his father and now his children are learning it from him.
Your whole family works in your company…
Yes, craftsmanship is often handed down from one generation to the other. For me it is a great honour to have handed on to my children my passion and our creativity which for years we have been carrying on.
If you were to give a Pulchra as a gift, who would you give it to and with what dedication?
To my wife, of course. It is a bag that completes a lady’s wardrobe. The dedication would be: “Made by hand, with love.”