Crafted Society was founded by Lise Bonnet & Martin Johnston in 2016. The husband and wife fashion duo wanted to pursue a lifelong dream of fusing their passion for design and exquisitely hand crafted lifestyle products with their personal commitment to operate transparently.
Martin, Mario & Lise - Corridonia, Nov 2016
The day the duo decided to walk the entrepreneurial path, they knew exactly what they wanted to create and where; Limited edition, handcrafted sneakers, bags and accessories all made in the country that had stolen their heart; Italy.
The small question was by whom?
They set out to work with the very best artisans Italy had to offer, but finding them was not easy. Traditional luxury goods brands do not generally disclose their manufacturing partners. The confidentiality agreements manufacturers are forced to sign with brands generally leads towards an anonymous existence for the the makers. They decided to right this wrong and put transparency central to everything they do.
With a little help from their "insider" friends they were introduced to Lanificio Arca, a family-run, luxury textile weaver on the outskirts of Florence, who have been weaving cashmere and cashmere blends on antique shuttle looms for the past 70 years. From Tuscany, they headed to Le Marche and met with the shoemakers at IFG , Toressi and Mirage , hat makers Sorbatti before discovering the leather goods artisans of ALES PELLETTERIE nestled away in the sleepy village of Tolentino.
Master artisans did exist but they were facing their own challenges brought upon by decades of industry secrecy. The artisans and the industry at large are adversely challenged to identify, train and develop the next generation of artisan, as almost no one in the outside world know of their existence.
Understanding this, Lise and Martin decided to focus on the makers and place them central to everything Crafted Society would stand for as a new luxury brand with the sole mission of preserving excellence and craftsmanship.
Martin, "First and foremost we are an ethical company focused on celebrating the real heroes of luxury; the makers."
Traditional Luxury is opaque at the best of times and the practice of secrecy has been successful in creating allure, desire and mystique which would ultimately justify and hide the overly exaggerated price points. But in today's world, the new generation is simply not buying it, they are pushing back in greater numbers, and demanding to know who made their goods, with what materials their goods were made and if the company selling the goods is operating ethically, sustainably and socially responsibly.
Through their mission to democratise luxury, the pair decided to design and sell handcrafted, high quality, luxury products directly to the end consumer. Crafted Society is able to exclude approximately fifty percent of the traditional retail price as all middleman markups have been eliminated. But is this enough to truly make a difference for the artisans?
In 2020 the world came to a standing halt when the Covid pandemic took hold. With no international travellers and their Fitting Room store on a yo-yo opening schedule the situation left the pair soul searching and asking themselves what more they could do to to accelerate their goal of safeguarding craftsmanship.
With more and more people forced to shop online, the duo had a brainwave. What if they could disrupt the modern direct-to-consumer business model and allow their tribe to enjoy even better prices? This is when the idea was born for the members club and luxury sneaker subscription. Through the introduction of the Crafted Society Club and the Crafted Sole Society subscriptions, the pair are now bringing their members within touching distance of factory buying prices while offering true luxury products to a broader group of lovers and aficionados of quality.
They also stressed the need to even the playing field and rebalance the economic scales within the luxury supply chains. Why should all the money flow through to a few individual hands? Why is it that two of the richest men on the planet own a luxury goods group and an internet distribution platform? Overpriced? Overexploited supply chains? From the duo's perspective more value has to stay with the makers while the consumers require a more competitive price stimulus to encourage them to purchase sustainable, handcrafted quality rather than throw away fashion.
The pair have more to introduce but with the introduction of the 'Club' they are democratising what has traditionally been a highly secretive and incredibly expensive sector of the fashion industry while focusing on being the voice of recognition for thousands of artisanal hands.
"Luxury without craftsmanship is simply not luxury and the talented makers are the central foundation on which our brand is built."
We welcome your support in demanding transparency from those you buy from.
Lise & Martin