Accessorised for Success: The Accessories Symposium at Pitti Uomo
The Rake ponders on the problems facing producers of artisanal accessories and the need to support them, as evinced by the latest Permanent Style & Stefano Bemer style symposium during Pitti Uomo.
A few weeks ago during Pitti Uomo in January, The Rake was fortunate enough to participate in yet another significant gathering of talented craftspeople. Following on from the prior success of his two previous symposiums, covering shoemaking and bespoke tailoring, menswear aficionado and Rake contributor Simon Crompton, in partnership with the ever perspicacious Tommaso Melani of Stefano Bemer, took the opportunity to delve further into the realm of artisanal menswear, this time discussing fine accessories. Participants included Ann Rydley, of luxury Scottish cashmere producers Begg & Co., Michael Hill of Drake's, Tommaso himself representing Stefano Bemer, Benjamin Simmonot of Simmonot Godard, Bram Frankel of extraordinary sock producers William Abraham and finally Guillaume Clerc of Maison Bourgeat. Naturally, each of these individuals is famed for their championing of traditional quality, genuine inventiveness of design and for developing their respective companies into modern, relevant, successful luxury menswear brands. Unsurprisingly, with speakers like these, the three symposiums have developed a much respected track record not only as gatherings of those individuals who share a genuine passion and respect for quality within the sartorial sphere, but as events which give rise to genuinely fascinating questions and debates amongst the speakers - all of whom offer views from a position of authority, each from a markedly different perspective. In the tailoring and shoemaking symposiums, questions of taste, house style and technical exactitude reigned supreme, but at this symposium broader questions related to quality of design and manufacture, scalability, ethical production and brand development all took precedence, offering guests a rare insight into the challenges facing luxury, artisanal brands today. It seems that the power of social media is becoming ever more apparent for small brands producing specialist products, as is the power of developing a contemporary brand identity - all of which are encouraging, if somewhat daunting things to hear in today's world of all too often inescapable mass-market manufacturing. The Rake was present to exhibit our inaugural collection of e-commerce products, which we are pleased to say are all created with the deliberate intention of riling against mass production and ubiquity - values we share with all those speakers included at the symposium. Indeed, everything in the collection is made exclusively for The Rake, in collaboration with those artisans that we most admire. Many pieces are either luxurious footwear; for example our Gaziano & Girling for The Rake Urban Commando Boots, handmade in Northampton in the traditional English fashion, or Paulus Bolten for The Rake Patinaed Sneakers, which are hand painted in Paris. Equally, we presented a range of our own unique accessories; archive elasticated braces made in Leicester by Albert Thurston, exclusively designed Drake's ties, hand slip-stitched by Mr Hill's own craftsmen in London and our iconic Rubinacci silk Samurai and Victory scarves - hand rolled and hand printed in Italy. It was a privilege to partake and we offer sincere thanks to Simon, Tommaso and those other brands participating for a fascinating insight into the world of luxury accessories, long may it continue to prosper.