Giulia Boccafogli is a designer of leather jewels that are all, ça va sans dire, sustainable since they are made with waste pieces that are recovered from industrial warehouse funds. Bolognese by birth, “Swiss” in action (Giulia has decided to cross-border the opposite way, keeping her laboratory in Italy in Como), mother of a beautiful child and happy wife, Giulia has agreed to answer some questions from Gaiazoe .
What is sustainability for you and how do you apply it to your work?
I believe that when it comes to craftsmanship, sustainability is now taken for granted and, in some respects, intrinsic. Personally, I find that the use of existing raw materials, therefore through upcycling, is the most sustainable thing there can be, especially when it comes to my material, leather. The use of waste leathers and scraps has therefore always been my choice for this very reason. At the moment, I find that the use of alternative materials which in any case contain variable percentages of polyurethane material inside them, is not as sustainable at an environmental level. I also find it a fundamental duty to place on the market handcrafted products of the highest quality, made to last forever. This care, combined with constant assistance also with guaranteed maintenance to the customer, are two essential elements for a serious contemporary craftsman.
How did you come to be a leather jewelry maker and what has changed since you started?
I got there very consciously. At some point I realized that if I had to increase my credibility as a designer, I would have to make a choice of specialization. I already knew leather as a material for reasons of family tradition and at a certain point I was able to detect a significant amount of 80s warehouse funds. I did my research understanding that the universe of leather jewelry was still largely unexplored (we are talking about over 10 years ago) and then I started studying and doing research. Thus began my adventure. I have chosen my subject. I studied it, it happens and I never stop doing it. Above all, the commercial and distribution aspect has changed. Instagram has changed everything and the recent pandemic has only accelerated a change that for me had already been in place since 2018. To date, I work a lot more with online sales, addressing the end customer. Until 2/3 years ago I worked mainly with retailers.
How do you choose the materials you use?
In reality, I would speak of selection rather than choice. I work with what I find and, depending on the waste I collect, I then understand which processes to use it for. In the laboratory the scraps are divided by color but above all by type (small cuttings, whole “damaged” skins, edges and so on) Working with online sales and therefore on a few pieces, almost always unique or replicated at most 5 times. it allows me much more freedom in terms of using colors.
Do you think sustainability will become a foregone conclusion in fashion?
I think so. And for this very reason, I hope the importance of product quality will become clear again very soon. When sustainability finally becomes the “conditio sine qua non” at all levels (not only formally, but also practically), this will no longer be enough to identify the essence of a brand, then it will return to the product, to research, the real one, which requires time and dedication, beyond image, storytelling and marketing.
How do you live your life as a professional and mom?
Passionately. Without being mushy, literally, the birth of my daughter meant moving my heart outside. The world is hers now. I work for myself, because I deeply love my job, but I also work for her, so that she understands how important it is for a woman to be independent and professionally satisfied (and therefore serene and proud of herself). Fortunately I’m not alone in this wonderful experience, but I have a man by my side who has absolutely clear in his head what it means to be the father of a child born in these years. It is certainly hard, but it is for me exactly as it is for his dad and therefore in the end, it is not even exaggerated. We do everything, calmly and discussing, slowly we face every obstacle.
(Interview by Viviana Musumeci for Gaiazoe, the site dedicated to sustainable lifestyle)