A couple of years back I watched a Radiohead music video that portrayed the life of two very young boys. One lived in a third world country creating shoes for a living, while the other lived the “normal” life, i.e. breakfast, school, videogames, etc. It was such a powerful video with a final message reading: “some things cost more than you realize”.
With this sentence floating endlessly through my mind and the lack of awareness, I decided to devote a little more of my time this year to visit as many manufactures as possible. I want to be able to document the amount of precision dedicated in hand making leather products, the processing and maintaining of materials and the hundreds of hours artisans devote into creating such superior products.
I had the pleasure of visiting the Montblanc Pelletteria manufacturer just outside of Florence after attending Pitti Uomo 87, where it would actually be my inaugural manufacturer’s tour. As mentioned earlier, I wanted to document the whole process and be able to educate my following on how brands such as Montblanc put together their incredible leather pieces. Here is a short video that recaps my time at the Montblanc Pelletteria manufacturer:
Digging deeper into Pelletteria, the manufacturing office possesses four main departments: quality control, servicing, design and production of the prototype.
The quality control center performs what is known to Montblanc as the “500-Hour Test” and is performed on every material, leather and product used or created by the manufacturer. Here the team ensures the highest of quality and durability for all materials, especially the groundbreaking extreme leather. Three impressive tests conducted by the team are:
- Xenotest – To evaluate the responsiveness of prolonged artificial light on colored textiles and leathers.
- Robot Anthropomorphic – Handles and shoulder straps are developed to guarantee safe use of the Montblanc products, so this robotic hand picks up, drops and swings the bag from its handle to text its strength and durability.
- Climatic Chambers – Climatic chambers place the product under varying temperatures and humidity levels to ensure materials are reliable and suitable for all applications.
The Montblanc Pelletteria service center is remarkable and offers all Montblanc customers an after purchase service like no other.
I was shown pieces that are over ten years old being serviced. For every product made, Montblanc has a special warehouse where it stores every single component of that product. So whether you have a damaged bag or any other product dating back to 2001 or one made last year, Montblanc can have it serviced. Highly skilled artisans usually deconstruct every product sent to the service center and then assemble it from scratch to reassure that the product is as good as new.
When it comes to the sketching, design and 3D model-making center, Montblanc has a dedicated team who put the product designs together using computer aided programs.
Once ever component of the product is created digitally, the team then prints each component of the product using thick cardboard and ensemble piece by piece to create a 3D version. Here, the designers are able to view a sample of the product and make any required amendments.
Once the 3D models are finalized and all changes necessary are made, the team then use the final cardboard components as a tracing block to cut the leather and other materials.
Once all components of the product have been cut, artisans put together piece by piece following a guided manual in order to create the prototype product. For every product line, a prototype piece is made, and it is this piece that Montblanc uses to create the thousands of product pieces sold all around the world.
This might sound cliché, however the insight I experienced at the Montblanc Pelletteria manufacturer was priceless and so valuable. The precision, skill and attention to detail the Montblanc designers and artisans possess in incredible.
Next up, I will be putting together a very similar piece on my tour of the Montblanc Le Locle and Villeret manufacturers offices, where all timepieces are designed and created by the gifted Swiss artisans.