Leu Locati: 110 years of leather excellenceMore than a century after the foundation of the company – based in the heart of old Milan, among the columns of San Lorenzo and the Navigli – Leu Locati launches a new phase of expansion, while keeping true to its artisan roots and niche offer, the result of high craftsmanship carried out today by master leatherworkers in the headquarters of Via Cosimo del Fante, 10 minutes from Piazza Duomo
The Leu Locati craft shop was founded in 1908 specialising in bookbinding and leather decorations for covers of sacred books, before expanding to the production of precious “petit point” clutches and mesh, an exclusive metal fabric shaped like corn stalks covered with gold and silver, still produced today with a loom that has been present in the company since 1890. After great success and driven by the desire to explore new techniques of craftsmanship, Leucati decided to diversify by producing handmade precious evening bags. The company’s production continued unabated and over the years established itself thanks to the quality and exclusivity of its products. The constant search for new shapes and the use of precious materials such as crocodile, ostrich, lizard, combined with the intuition of the members of the Locati family – Luigi, Emanuele and Umberto – brought success to the company that has never faded.
Every single piece is conceived and produced in the laboratory, located in the historic centre of Milan, so as to guarantee the quality of the process and workmanship of each component.
We are one of the few companies based in the heart of the city centre. In an area of 1,600 meters on two floors, we take care of everything, from the conception to the design, from the prototyping to production, from logistics to shipping
says President Paolo Amato, who was brought to the company in 1989 by his father-in-law Gianni Fumagalli.
When you visit the atelier, you get the feeling of being in a museum of the history of manufacturing. One of the company’s special features has always been that of creating products of excellence, all rigorously archived, with refined fastenings, accessories, seals and hinges, but always with a careful eye on Milanese socialites, who not only wanted jewels, but also bags that enhanced their beauty. As testified by the photos and newspaper clippings, the Leu Locati creations have been worn by royalty around the world, including Lady Diana, Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Masako of Japan and movie stars such as Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor. For Leu Locati, the richness lies in the attention to detail, the sumptuous choice of the best materials, the elegance in each piece steeped in personality and history.
The activity has always been fuelled by products made on behalf of major international brands as well as Leu Locati’s own brand. In recent years, this production has progressively expanded thanks to the collection designed by the young heir of Locati, Daniele Amato, whose deluxe brand, Amato Daniele, has received international approval from high-end boutiques, and has added bags and accessories including footwear.
In the past - says Paolo Amato - our role as contractors accounted for 70% of the business, but with the success of Daniele, our own production has grown considerably.
The next step - continues Amato - is to see one of our pop-up flagship stores in the centre of Milan, perhaps during Fashion Week. I imagine it as a shop-atelier with a bespoke service, where the proposals can be customised to the individual needs of customers in rapid times, thanks to the proximity to our production facility.
110 years of future
The celebration of the 110th anniversary of a historic brand like Leu Locati cannot be separated from a clear look at the future. Daniele Amato is the new face of the company.
How would you define the style of the Amato Daniele brand?
“Contemporary vintage. We take pieces from the archives and give them a modern flair. Something that I would dare to define as “historical” perfectly in tune with the current trends, both in the colours and sizes.”
What about shoes, which are not really part of the history of the Leu Locati family?
“In this case too, we restyle the archive of the shoe factory with which we have been collaborating for 40 years. An historic company, also rich in models of the past. We fish for heels and shapes that inspire new collections and new styles.”
Which part of your job do you love most?
“I am passionate about two phases. The first is the preparation, when I start thinking about the new sample collection and have to decide what to focus on, what colours and materials to choose, how to develop the models. The second is the sale: I love dealing with customers.”
In which markets do you operate?
“Our main markets are in the east of the world. Kazakhstan, China, not so much Russia, but all the neighbouring regions. We are growing in Japan, where there is strong competition that forces us to focus on proposals that are a bit different. In the immediate future, we want to consolidate the current markets, because in this time of slight recovery it is important to work hard to retain our customer base.”
What do people look for when they buy your products?
“Total-look bags, leather accessories, belts, and shoes. Otherwise, just bags.”
You are a very young designer. Who was your guide?
“I am very grateful to my parents. I have been wanting to create my own collection since I was 8 years old. My parents supported me every step of the way, taking a risk and investing in me… especially when I left school at 16 to devote myself entirely to this profession. The Amato Daniele collections will never be without the logo of the Leu Locati family, not only because it is a guarantee of tradition and quality, but because it is responsible for a line that bears my name.”
What has Leu Locati passed on to you and what did you give?
“It has given me the opportunity to immerse myself in an incredible archive, to travel in time and encounter fascinating and impeccably constructed models. For my part, I introduced a bit of colour and a diversified market position: not only department stores, but also exclusive boutiques.”