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I created Italia Accessories in the autumn of 1995 to supply private label luxury Italian leather gloves to high-end fashion brands with my first factory, Gala Gloves of Naples.
At that time, I had nothing but a large shoulder bag with a small collection of leather glove samples and leather colour cards. I contacted several fashion retailers based in central London and made appointments to show them our Gala Gloves collection each Autumn/Winter season.
Within the first year, I had begun making private label leather gloves for fashion brands Austin Reed, French Connection and Aquascutum. In the meantime, I also attended trade fairs and learned more about the UK leather glove market. I knew that my Italian artisanal leather gloves could only be sold successfully to the luxury brand market where price points were higher so I began to target more British luxury brands instead of high street chains.
In 1999, I met the soft accessories designers from Burberry at the Birmingham International Gift fair and this is when my business really took off! Burberry had just transformed from a traditional British business famous for trench coats with check lining into the international top end luxury brand of today. Burberry was looking for a glove manufacturer that could make a wool check fabric front leather glove to match their wool check and leather trim handbags but had been unable to find a factory that could make this product without the wool fabric fraying around the leather edges.
Gala Gloves was the only factory able to overcome this problem by backing the fabric with a stretchy liner prior to stitching to the leather. Within the first season, Burberry glove sales soared, going from 2,000 pairs in Autumn/Winter 2000 up to 24,000 pairs by 2004.
By this time, I had also started supplying private label leather gloves to other higher end fashion brands such as Alfred Dunhill, Paul Smith, Thomas Pink, French Connection, Hackett, Jigsaw and Whistles. Some of the Designers for these brands often asked if I could also offer other soft accessories such as hats, ties and scarves so I began to look for other Italian artisanal manufacturers of fashion accessories such as silk mills in Como, leather workshops in Tuscany and hat makers from the traditional straw hat region of Le Marche. This proved to be very successful because it lead to new business with other higher end fashion brands such as Reiss, Ted Baker, Pringle and Osprey.
Thanks to all this new UK luxury brand business which I had helped to establish for my Italian factories, their reputation for good and reliable private label production extended further into Italy and other countries with top international brands such as Valentino, Armani, Gucci, Max Mara, Façonnable, Moncler, Lanvin, Etro and Furla.
Today Italia Accessories remains a collaboration between several fashion accessories manufacturers with whom I have maintained a long-standing personal as well as business relationship over several years. We continue working closely together to this day and have expanded our services to supply branded accessories to the corporate sector: luxury car companies, costume designers for major film productions, record companies, international museums, catwalk shows and various other businesses.