Why are the bags & accessories of Il Bisonte so revolutionary? Read the remarkable story of this artisan company situated in the heart of Florence.
LN: Your company is established in the heart of Tuscany – in Florence. Can you share your company's history with us, and where the name Il Bisonte comes from?
Our company, which has just celebrated its first 50 years of history, was founded in 1970 in a small artisan workshop in the heart of Florence, a stone’s throw from the magnificent Palazzo Corsini where the headquarters, showroom and the brand’s flagship store are still located today. The founder, Wanny Di Filippo, was inspired by his favorite animal, the bison (bisonte) which is a universal symbol of peace and strength.
LN: You say: Il Bisonte bags and accessories are revolutionary in everything except in their absolute loyalty to the extraordinary Florentine tradition of manufacturing. Why are your bags & accessories so revolutionary?
Our products are revolutionary because they are the result of continuous inventions outside of mainstream manufacturing and because their style has always been unhindered by seasonal fashion trends. Thanks to their quality and timeless elegance, our bags and accessories are made to last a very long time, maintaining and increasing their beauty and uniqueness. This stylistic choice is also the foundation of authentic commercial sustainability.
LN: We are very curious to learn more about the extraordinary Florentine tradition of manufacturing. Can you please explain?
Il Bisonte products are made exclusively in the province of Florence by the best artisans in the world, true heirs of the centuries-old Tuscan manufacturing tradition. All leathers are tanned, coupled, cut, split, skived and hand-stitched within a 30KM radius of the main plant. We are committed every day to promoting the talent and passion of our artisans and to protecting and passing down their unique know-how from generation to generation.
LN: Santa Croce is one of the most important areas in Europe's leather industry. How important is Santa Croce for your company?
For more than fifty years we have been buying our leathers in the Santa Croce district where cowhide leather, Il Bisonte’s iconic material, is vegetable tanned following ancient procedures that use tannin obtained from tree bark. To produce it, competence and patience is needed. The result is a fine leather: beautiful, resistant, soft and rendered totally unique by its delicate woodland scent and golden patina that covers its surface over time.
LN: How are you inspired for new collections?
For our Heritage collection we have carefully selected some historical models that continue to appeal. Some of them have been in continuous production for five decades. Bags and accessories from the Contemporary collection are inspired by prototypes preserved in our extraordinary historical archive (which includes more than 2000 pieces) and are then reinterpreted with a contemporary twist, exemplifying lightness and minimalism.
LN: You mentioned in an earlier interview that your manufacturing methods are green. Can you give us more background on your green production?
The commitment to safeguarding people and the planet has been part of Il Bisonte’s DNA since it was founded. We put this mission into practice every day, making responsible choices inspired by an authentic and alternative circular economy. We use certified chrome-free and metal-free leathers. Alongside the vegetable-tanned cowhide, the new collections use innovative recyclable and compostable bio-tanned cowhide leather, recycled nylon, organic cotton and linen, and nickel-free metal accessories galvanized with eco-sustainable processes.
LN: How do you communicate your ethos with the consumer?
Our products embody the idea of sustainable luxury made with materials responsibly sourced and processed and destined to last a lifetime and to be handed down from generation to generation. We offer our clients exclusive maintenance and repair services by artisans who are in charge of reconditioning our products.
Building a better future for the planet is not something you can do alone. This is why we work hard to involve all those who love Il Bisonte in our sustainability projects. We also do this through our website’s Journal where we tell the stories of people who inspire us. The first was Yacouba Sawadogo, the farmer (2018 Alternative Nobel Prize winner and 2020 United Nations “Champion of the Earth”) who managed to plant trees in the African desert.
LN: What should a consumer know about leather?
Il Bisonte’s customers are attentive and well-informed consumers, with considerable ecological awareness and good knowledge of the raw materials and production processes we use. They know – because we tell them – the stories behind the bags and leather accessories they buy. They appreciate that our leather is recycled and derived from food industry waste and that no animals are killed to produce it. This awareness is the best antidote to both disinformation and the rhetoric of green-washing.
Why do you think leather should be the material of choice for consumers?
Because choosing high quality leather means investing in a durable and sustainable good. And because it is extraordinarily beautiful and offers multisensory experiences that no other material can.