by Zohra KhanJul 12, 2022
Passion, details and craftsmanship rightly encapsulate the indomitable spirit of the 141-year-old family run Italian company Schedoni, specialising in luxury leather goods. Based in Modena, Italy, a city known for upholding a generous heritage of high-class products entrenched in artisanal craftsmanship, the brand holds a special place there, ingrained with the city’s production legacy.
What began as a humble leather workshop in 1880, that made handcrafted footwear for 80 years, was modified into its current model by Mauro Schedoni, the family’s third generation, by producing bespoke, high-end luggage for supercar Ferrari in 1977. The rest, as they say, is history. Today, Schedoni collaborates with the best luxury automotive brands globally, including Bugatti, Lamborghini, and Aston Martin.
The brand is more than just a company – it is philosophy, it is family, a testament to the inherent discipline and loyalty required to create genuine products, to sustain a design legacy for more than a century, with no compromise on quality. Infusing retro style with modern flair in their timeless, carefully handmade, custom-fitted leathered pieces, Schedoni’s product designs have been praised by the likes of Enzo Ferrari and Michael Schumacher.
Schedoni is now led by the family’s fourth generation, Simone Schedoni (President) and the fifth in training, Simone’s nephew Alessio Boninsegni. In an unbridled conversation with STIR, Simone discusses the nuances and challenges that come with running a globally beloved, generations old family business, designing for the Pope and the recently concluded exhibition, 11 days Schedoni.
Jincy Iype (JI): From handcrafted leather shoes to luxury car luggage, what has been Schedoni’s positioning statement? Has it changed since its inception?
Simone Schedoni (SS): It all started when my great grandfather opened a shoe shop in 1880 - the tradition of working with leather, procuring it, treating it and creating with it, has passed from father to son since then. We still use production methods typical of the shoe production from then. Today, Schedoni is the official supplier to Ferrari, Lamborghini, Pagani, Bugatti, Rolls-Royce, McLaren, Bentley, and Aston Martin – even today, the final stitching for these products employs a 65-year-old sewing machine that was used at my grandfather’s shoe factory!
Our products are well accepted by the demanding and discerning owners of these beautiful cars, and they reflect an amazing craftsmanship combined with attention to detail - each set of luggage is custom produced and matches the car it accompanies. Materials such as leather, Alcantara and cloth are chosen in the same colour combination selected by the client for the upholstery and stitching, and we source these materials from the very same suppliers of the car companies. Personalisation is further enhanced by embroidering the client’s initials on the products or are engraved on metal plaques with the chassis number of the car, making it truly bespoke.
Apart from our recently purchased automated cutting machine, most of our pieces are still exactingly hand made. These are the same “ingredients” we used over 50 years ago to produce Schedoni shoes - it is deeply in-built in our family and - it is a way of being, truthfully.
JI: What are the challenges of running this generations-old family leather-crafting business? How are you training the next generation who will spear the brand ahead?
SS: In 1976, Mauro’s brother-in-law bought a Ferrari 308. His intention to organise a 10-day road trip in Tuscany crashed with the awkward dimension of his Ferrari’s trunk. He sought to take advantage of the family’s know-how and asked Mauro Schedoni (my father) to create a bespoke luggage that would fit the volume of the 308. He set on his task and on the Christmas eve of 1976, a beautiful set of four travel bags came into being. The next day, the then sales manager of Ferrari saw the luggage pieces and brought it ahead to Enzo Ferrari, who immediately fell in love.
In early January, 1977, my father started a collaboration with Ferrari to create custom fitted sets that would use 100 per cent of the trunk’s volumes. From the 308 GTB to the new Roma, every Ferrari car model developed in the last 44 years has had a dedicated luggage kit hand made by Schedoni. In 1983, we started the cooperation with the Ferrari F1 Department, trimming the seats for each F1 driver with a special suede leather.
I represent the family’s fourth generation, the fifth is already working - my nephew Alessio (son of my sister Elisa) – he is actively involved and began training back in 2011, and is currently responsible for the R&D Department and being the Production Manager. Before being involved in what he is doing today, he had been working for eight years in different areas of production. This gave him a deep knowledge of the production phases as well as an “inside” view of the dynamics of what really goes behind the production. This presented a great opportunity for him to list out problematic areas that needed to be addressed in order to have a more fluid production pace. I believe we are set to become even more efficient in the hands of the next generation – I could not be prouder.
JI: What is your dream? How does it tie in with your company’s future goals?
SS: When I joined the company, we were so busy producing fitted luggage for Ferrari. At that time, they represented about 90 per cent of our turnover.
Today, most of our high-end client base is much more balanced and is set on safe cooperation – we focus on working in close confidence with our customers. In the last 20 years we basically created a small and interesting “niche” that catered to luggage for luxury automotives, and slowly became a leader in this business. I have always sought to be different from other luggage producers, especially in terms of quality of leather.
I look to the next decade and more with enthusiasm and a pure will to succeed, to keep working hard and perfecting what we do: the secret, I believe, is to offer what other companies do not produce - small volumes, amazing quality, bespoke production. If we stay on this path, it is going to be a great ride!
JI: Besides luxury automotive luggage, what other areas do you cater to? What unites these leather goods?
SS: Back in early 2000s we started collaborating with the watch industry to produce special watch boxes. In 2007, we created Puma by Schedoni sneakers collection, and in 2015 we launched the Leica by Schedoni camera bag, a limited edition of 100 pieces. We have also created tool cases, document folders, race car seat covers and other commissioned items. The common ingredient for all these projects is again, a small number and no compromise on quality. It has become an unspoken ethos for everyone who works with us, for us.
JI: Please educate us about ethical leather design and production. What do you have to say about its environmental impact?
SS: Firstly, leather is a by-product of the dairy and meat industry. Cows are not bred just for the purpose of creating leather, especially in this part of the world… Our approach is to limit material waste (as much as possible). The company is independent to the power production – we obtain a lot of our energy via solar panels. A specific recycling program is also in place to minimise impact on the environment.
JI: Tell us about some of your most memorable commissioned work.
SS: Actually, it is not a single item but a symbiotic relationship which started back in 1983 and still stands today, the Ferrari F1 Department. It gave us an inside view of how their technology evolved in the last 38 years, which inspired and allowed us to start using carbon fibre back in the early 80s. Trimming the F1 seats and having this close cooperation allowed us to discover the potentials of high-tech materials such as Kevlar and titanium and employ them in our designs.
JI: We know you design and create for luxury supercars. How was it designing Pope John Paul II’s chalice travel case?
SS: The most significant commissioned work has been the one made back in 1988, which is the special suitcase we created for Pope John Paul II.
My father had a timeframe of only four weeks prior to the Pope’s visit to the Ferrari factory in Maranello; he started from scratch, designing the outside structure, the handle and locks, all the organisation inside made from titanium which would hold the different components. A special bulk of suede leather, tanned with the official colour of the Vatican was also created specifically for the suitcase.
This was an incredibly intense project as we had to coordinate with different suppliers who we pushed to the limit, along with ourselves, to create the perfect piece, on such a tight deadline. In the end and after countless sleepless nights, we arrived at a charismatic and beautiful finale. A project which we are very proud of.
JI: Can you tell us about 11 days Schedoni, the recently concluded exhibition commemorating the company’s last phenomenal 141 years of designing and production?
SS: 11 days Schedoni was held during the 2021 Modena Motor Valley Fest, an annual event where the automotive companies in the area (Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, Pagani, Dallara and Ducati) show their range of products around the several squares of town. The exhibition was organised on the request of the Mayor of Modena and the Modena City Council - they wanted to celebrate our 141 years of activity. It was handsomely housed inside the Chiesa del Voto in the centre of Modena, a church built in 1640, appreciated for its combination of baroque style, presenting an interesting fusion of times with our contemporary items on display.
JI: What were some of your most memorable experiences while working on the exhibition’s curation?
SS: Organising an exhibition inside a historic church represents a challenge in itself… We had to come up with several spatial solutions to display the items without disturbing the background drastically. I asked my daughter Sara, who is a student of design like you, to help me in the process and it was such a pleasure – to see the next generation being so fully involved. It was exhilarating, emotional and satisfying.
JI: What were some works presented, and how was the response to the event?
SS: The shoes made in my grandfather’s shoe-factory (1965), the very first set of luggage developed in 1976 for Ferrari, the Ferrari luggage we are currently producing (designed by Marc Newson), luggage designed for Lamborghini Urus, Bugatti Chiron, Aston Martin, Vanquish Zagato, Bentley Bacalar, Pagani Zonda and McLaren Speedtail. We also showcased what we call “Special Cooperation” items such as the Leica by Schedoni camera bag, the Puma by Schedoni sneaker shoes collection among Ferrari F1 seats along with some special editions of books.
The exhibition was quite well accepted and over these 11 days, it was visited by about 5,000 people. The entire experience was truly heartwarming.
JI: A piece of advice for young brands and designers.
SS: Be different.
Try to find a way to come up with a unique approach and strive to become the leader on what you offer and be genuine in your approach while creating.