Cartiera is an ethical fashion laboratory created in 2017. It produces leather and fabric accessories according to Made in Italy craftsmanship techniques, recovering high-quality raw materials, and employing people in vulnerability, enhancing creativity and talent. It considers work as a vehicle for personal autonomy, and an instrument for relationship and personal growth. Its production process is ethically and socially sustainable to high environmental standards, thanks to the reuse of materials otherwise destined for disposal by the high fashion industry and the luxury car industry.
Weaving together Italian leather and African fabric, Cartiera makes bags, purses, clutches, backpacks, rucksacks, shopping bags, cases, object holders, change purses, business card holders, wallets, laptop and tablet cases.
Cartiera is aimed, on the one hand, at companies interested in producing an object for their clients, for their staff, for their own initiatives and, on the other, at individuals interested in purchasing objects made with artisan techniques.
The Cartiera laboratory is located inside the former industrial complex of the Burgo paper mill, formerly Rizzoli, in Lama di Reno, part of the Union of Municipalities of the Bolognese Apennines where approximately 48,000 inhabitants live. The production plant was definitively closed at the beginning of the 2000s, with the consequent loss of hundreds of jobs and the depopulation of the area. In this area, from 2008 to 2017, there was a decrease in active businesses of -8.5% and a decrease of employees in local units of -6.5% (Metropolitan City of Bologna) demonstrating the difficulties of recovery after the economic crisis. In the area of the Bolognese Apennines, 15.2% of the metropolitan population resides on a territory equivalent to 45% of the total area of the entire metropolitan city, it is therefore not surprising to note that the area is highly exposed to demographic, social and economic fragility (Metropolitan City of Bologna). This analysis is also confirmed by the Public Policy Analysis Center (CAAP) of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia which certifies the risk of poverty in the Bolognese Apennines District at 6.8% and of severe poverty at 4.2 %, identifying 1,773 families at risk of poverty and 1,084 at serious risk of poverty.
Technical details & Operations
Since September 2020, the Abantu social cooperative has become a type A and B cooperative through the incorporation of the Cartiera cooperative, an ethical fashion producer, which makes and sells handcrafted products in recovered leather and fabric, and employs people in vulnerability.
The laboratory uses circular production processes by recovering high-quality materials otherwise destined for disposal by the high fashion industry and the luxury car industry. It operates in an area characterized by social and economic fragility (the Bolognese Apennines) and collaborates with artisan cooperatives elsewhere in the world.
The Cartiera project aims to give concrete answers to the challenges of our time: the creation of new employment opportunities, the economic integration of refugees and asylum seekers, the rediscovery of skilled craftsmanship, the repopulation of former industrial areas, the recovery of raw materials otherwise destined for disposal.
The laboratory is also part of the Ethical Fashion Initiative network, a United Nations program that creates bridges between artisans in the southern countries of the world and large international fashion brands, to produce clothing and accessories.
Deployment & Impact
Since 2017, 16 asylum-seekers or refugees made traineeships at Cartiera and 10 are currently employed, in addition to 2 persons with disabilities.
From an environmental perspective, since its opening until today, Cartiera recovered 14 tons of leather that would otherwise be destined for disposal.
Cartiera also keeps strengthening the link with its community, building partnerships with local companies and corporations interested in Corporate Social Responsibility. Over the last year, Cartiera has developed new commercial projects with corporate partners interested in the circular economy model used by the laboratory: the Upcycled Leather Project developed with Automobili Lamborghini involves the recovery of unsuitable leathers for the production of the supercar seats, and their transformation into new objects that are repurchased by the company on their e-commerce. The Upcycled Leather Project was born from the will of giving a second life to leather waste of the supercars interiors. The leftovers of leather deriving from production processes of the historical supply chain of Sant’Agata Bolognese – unsuitable for the interiors of supercars for small imperfections or dimensions – are transformed by the artisans of Cartiera into new items and accessories. The Cartiera project has allowed to give them a new life, by regenerating them with a special natural drumming technique. A similar project based on the same upcycling approach was developed with Poltrona Frau.
Furthermore, Cartiera has a long term collaboration with Fendi Roma, donor of its leather stock remnants used by Cartiera in the production of leather accessories.