Leu Locati: 100 years of history and family traditions

Assolombarda Confindustria Milano Monza e Brianza

Step inside the workroom and discover the craftsmanship of making a clutch

Leu Locati was created in the early 20th century by Luigi Locati—a man with a passion for art, who expressed his love for beautiful things by devoting himself to decorating the leather covers of sacred books. He later moved onto bags, putting sacred and profane side by side to create precious, finely embroidered clutches and bags.

It was only upon the arrival of Emanuele Locati, in 1908, that one of the earliest leather goods industries of the time was created.
In 1915, war broke out, and the Locatis adapted to these new needs: no more embroidery for ladies, nor sacred books. Instead, leather saddlebags, belts, and holsters were supplied to soldiers on the front line.

The introduction of a sophisticated frame allowed for an extraordinary variety of fabrics to be created by twisting cotton, metal wires, and different types of leather. A particularly notable example is MESH —a metallic fabric made from copper spikes covered with 24-carat gold or 925 silver, which is the flagship of Locati even today.

The end of the 1920s saw the start of the production of leather goods, which were refined even further by the introduction of precious and increasingly sought-after materials such as alligator, ostrich, lizard, and python skins.
Towards the end of the 1920s, the young and enterprising Umberto arrived, and the two Locati brothers managed the company until the late 1970s. Umberto would travel around Italy with the company's samples. He took a trip abroad once a year. He went to Paris, London, and Monte Carlo, where he studied trends and formed new business contacts, and he even managed to export to the United States in the 1930s.

Umberto Locati's nephew, Gianni Fumagalli, joined the company in the 1930s. He worked in the factory after school in order to "learn the trade," and joined the company permanently after completing his diploma.
In the 1950s, he and his uncle, Umberto, worked to develop the first contact with Japan, which became the center of an effervescent market. Leu Locati was one of the first companies to establish a commercial relationship with the "Land of the Rising Sun."

He takes the uncle's place in traveling through Italy with sample cases. In 1978 he changes the name of the company in Leu Locati, in memory of the founders of the company: Luigi, Emanuele and Umberto.

How is a Clutch Made?
Tradition, Craftsmanship, and Cultural Heritage

As in every work of craftsmanship, everything starts with a sketch.
Proportions and features are transferred by the modeler on the paper pattern, initiating the production phase.

From the first sketch, each individual bag passes through the hands of experienced craftsmen in the various production stages, from the pattern to weaving and cutting.

During weaving, after passing the spool between the warp threads, the craftsman always checks that the thread is positioned correctly before operating the frame's comb.
As MESH fabric is so precious, it is stored in rolls and covered with tissue paper to protect the 24-carat gold threads.

In the next phase of assembly, the bag's inner structures and reinforcements are made, attached by hand with glue, needle, thread, and made into a horn shape.

The final details, such as the metal elements and inner linings, are applied so delicately that they are invisible to the naked eye.

Leu Locati Today
Know-How Handed Down from Father to Son

Summoned by his father-in-law, Gianni Fumagalli—who was president and owner of the company at the time—Paolo Amato abandoned his math books in 1988 to become his right-hand man. This is how Paolo came to study this craft. He collaborated with the workers, and studied the various stages of production and his father-in-law's business decisions. He tried to memorize everything Gianni and the workers taught him, working both at the company and at home. Any time and place provided an opportune moment for clarifications and anecdotes of past experiences.

In 1994, following his father-in-law's death and after perfecting the company's craftsmanship, Paolo took over management with the support of his wife, Flavia, and his mother-in-law, Federica.
The change in Leu Locati's leadership was met with suspicion, but Paolo made the right choices. The company maintained its work-of-art philosophy, old production techniques, and utmost luxury, reinforcing the company's reputation.


In 2012, the sixth generation of Leu Locati arrived to oversee the market, in the form of the very young Daniele Amato, from the class of 1997. He brought with him a line of shoes and handbags, carrying on in the family's footsteps and taking up the baton for the next steps into the future.
A passion for bags seems inherent: almost a part of their DNA, passed on from generation to generation.

Throughout the years, Leu Locati has retained the same mission as in its earlier days: to be an artisanal company that favors handmade work over more industrialized methods.

Today, the same work-of-art philosophy and the old techniques of craftsmanship continue to produce distinctive luxury handbags that are renowned for their quality, design, and beauty: not just objects, but true works of art.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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