The Pelletteria Coryum is located in the historic center of Cerveteri, a town close to Rome in the Lazio region famous for its UNESCO World Heritage Necropolis. An evocative place, dating back to Etruscan-Roman times, which perfectly reflects the spirit of the brand, imbued with references to the great Italian craft tradition. A business history that is also a family history: the company is in fact successfully run by Massimiliano and Fabrizio Alessandrini, father and son, who share a passion for vegetable-tanned leather and slow fashion.
Massimiliano remembers his beginnings as a shoemaker, when he repaired and polished shoes, and then moved on to create handmade leather bags similar to medieval pouches, as well as belts and custom-made shoes.
“My mentor was from Montegranaro, in the Marche region,” he says, “I owe the discovery of vegetable tanning to him”.
In 1994 Massimiliano opened an independent business; but 2015 was the turning point year, thanks to the initiative of his son Fabrizio, who pushed him to inaugurate an artisan leather goods shop dealing only in vegetable-tanned leather. A choice that goes against the tide of the fashion system. Fabrizio explains: “For a sustainable future, fashion should rethink its priorities. We have decided to use only natural materials for our creations, safe for the workers and for the end-users, as well as to aim for the highest quality. Leather tanned with tannins is a perfect example of this, but also the felt we use for our slippers, for example, is 100% pure wool. It is time to rediscover this philosophy of work and say “no” to fast fashion. Do we really need a new collection for every season?”.
Fabrizio continues: “There is a lot of confusion between materials and denominations. Many customers have never heard of vegetable-tanned leather. And when it comes to tannin, they open their eyes wide: some of them associate it with red wine, and they are amazed when they discover that it is a natural substance with multiple uses, including its application as tanning agent within leather making. Even when it comes to the sustainability of leather there is a lot of confusion: many people ignore that tanning is actually a way to recycle a waste material from the meat industry. Let’s take what happened during the pandemic: measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 forced tanneries to slow down or even stop working, putting slaughterhouses in serious difficulty for the disposal of animal skins. But too little is said about these aspects. That is why we have created a blog section where we try to spread this information to the public”.
Massimiliano echoes him: “Vegetable-tanned leather with tannins is the material that lends itself best to the type of traditional processing we have chosen. Every vegetable-tanned leather has unique characteristics: the craftsman’s hand gives them warmth and life. I always make the cut strictly by hand and even the tools I use are ancient. For example, before working the leather, I soak it for one full day and beat it with an iron-like tool to make it more flexible and malleable. A factory cannot achieve this level of refinement in finishing. Even the decorations are made by hand, including paintings”.
Today, Coryum offers a wide range of accessories: shoes, bags, key rings, wallets and other items such as pen holders and tray holders. All strictly realized in vegetable-tanned leather with tannin.
The product catalogue can be consulted in the company’s e-commerce, where tradition and innovation merge.
Fabrizio comments: ”The digital approach is very important to us. A few days ago, a 65-year-old customer made a purchase from our e-commerce and then sent us an e-mail congratulating us on our effort, which reminded him of his youth when every town had its own shops, from shoemaker to carpenter.
At the moment, our e-commerce is only active in Italy; for foreign countries we are relying on Etsy, but we will land on the foreign market as soon as possible”.
The ideal shopping experience, however, is still in the physical shop. Massimiliano comments: “Customers who come into our store can immediately perceive the good scent of vegetable-tanned leather and they often tell us that it is like taking a journey through time, when production followed the slow pace and dedication of craftsmanship as daily life itself proceeded at a more liveable rhythm”.
Fabrizio concludes: “Our hope for the next few years is to see the rise of craftsmanship and slow fashion, while seeing consumers become more aware of sustainability and the impact of their consumption. A goal that we can achieve together”.
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