Keeping it in the family, the company is now run by Ruggero Guidi, a direct blood relative of founder Guido Guidi. Ruggero, who is widely known as and simply called Mr. Guidi, has continued the 125 year old tradition of the family vegetable tanning technique, whilst adapting and creating techniques of his own. He would supply fashion houses such as Maison Margiela and Prada with leathers, as well as Avant Garde brands such as Rick Owens and the defunct cult brand Carpe Diem, which was widely commended as starting the wave of Avant Garde and artisanal brands in the 2000’s, with a key focus on the craft and experimentation of natural materials and pattern cutting.
An avid collector of old hiking and worker boots, a deep love and passion for the craftsmanship and skills of shoe making, Mr Guidi began experimenting with creating his own footwear. Firstly, by recreating what he had in his personal collection, before creating what are now considered signature Guidi silhouettes, with the assistance of Alessia Righi Amante, who had experience in sales and previously worked for the aforementioned Carpe Diem.
“For generations the Guidi family has managed the tannery with particular attention to the sustainability of both production and materials’
The first iterations seemed far too polished, polite even. During the experimentation process, Amante suggested to Mr Guidi that he utilises one of his tanning drums in a slightly different way, by tilting the drum, which Is somewhat like a washing machine, and filling it with water. The footwear was washed and tumbled in the drum, and the result was incredibly soft and beautifully distressed shoes and boots. The first batch of shoes where swiftly bought buy some of the world’s buyers with the most discerning of eyes.
It was with further experimentation that the Guidi formula was comprised. Rather than dying the skins then constructing the shoe, the shoes where constructed from the leathers naturally tanned states, then the boots where dyed and washed in the drums as whole objects. This technique is known as ‘object dying’. It is through this technique that Guidi are able to create the beautiful depth in colour and tone of their footwear, which runs seamlessly from the uppers down to the leather stacked heel and goodyear welted leather sole. Thus, swiftly becoming a key signature of the brand.
Guidi itself is a tannery and does not have the facilities to produce its own footwear. This is outsourced to an artisanal footwear maker, who himself was a friend of Mr. Guidi’s father and also has a long family history in the craft. In particular making hiking and mountaineering boots. The artisan shoemaker exclusively makes footwear for Guidi and it is here Mr Guidi’s vision is brought to life. With effortless ease, the shoe maker with hands like leather, glides his scalpel across the hides, cutting the patterns of the upper which shall soon be fully constructed, before being sent back to the Guidi factory to be object dyed and washed.
Since launching a dedicated showroom for the brand in 2007 run by Righi Amante, Guidi started selling (firstly) men’s boots and derbies in variations of skins such as buffalo, horse, donkey and calf. The two most prominent styles would be the 992 Derby and the 796 series of boots. More affectionately known as the Guidi back zips. With their supple leather uppers, slanted shaft and sock like feel, these styles where promptly picked up by a selection of the world’s most directional multi brand boutiques.
“Nothing was planned, we simply started creating shoes that went hand in hand with the artisan technique”
Through word of mouth, news started to spread amongst the Avant Garde and artisanal loving fashion community, about the undeniable comfort, exquisite craftsmanship and familiar but new and versatile silhouettes. A boot with very little structure in the toe box and literally moulds to your foot within hours of wear. Mr Guidi in time also introduced women’s iterations of the most popular models. Additionally, more feminine styles where such as 3006 series of back zip heeled boots and the 3010 series of thigh high boots. Continuing his experimentations in dyeing and developing new styles and colours to add to a growing range, there are two styles in particular which have risen to be favourites for clients of all genders.
The 210 & 310 series (variation being height of shaft), with similar characteristics to the 796 series, in terms of an unstructured toe box, soft leather uppers with a sock like feel. The key difference is the 210 is a two piece construction upper with a front zip closure. As opposed to the 796’s one piece construction with a back zip closure. From the 210/310 and 796 was birthed the PL series. The PL series coming in 3 different shaft heights, PL1, PL2 and PL3, the style encompassing the one piece construction of the 796 and front zip closure of the 210/310 series. Key difference is the silhouette. The PL series features a structured angular tapered toe box, evoking that of a work boot.
Within this series we see some of the most incredible modern and artisanal tanning techniques and finishes being utilised. The men’s Guidi PL1 Camo in horse leather (also available in women’s). The leather has been meticulously dyed and hand painted. With a limited edition run of 300 pairs in the world.
The women’s Guidi PL1 Nebula realised in an iridescent horse leather, a true fusion of traditional artisan craftsmanship and modern techniques and stylings. The PL1 distressed white boots, hark back to the very first experiments conducted by Mr Guidi, with their beautiful pre worn aesthetic, which is now synonymous with the brand. Onto the PL2 models which have a taller shaft and are offered in a deep black, of which Mr Guidi states is the hardest tone achieve. A deep and vibrant red and a pure white, all crafted from Guidi horse hide.
“Tanning is a vital step in our world, as it means being in total control of the production and giving us the chance to embody the Guidi soul in all of our products”
Guidi’s offering has expanded over the years, with an introduction of new colours tones and finishes each collection. They now offer footwear in a spectrum of colour ways and leathers, including exotics such as crocodile and ostrich. Expanding the footwear realm in to hiking and Snow board boot styles such as the Snb00 which also hark back to the origins of Guidi’s shoe maker.
The range has expanded beyond footwear into other leather goods such as bags. With styles such as the quintessential Q10 and Q100 horse leather belt bags, the S06 metal handle bag and the MR05 clutch and DBP05 Horse leather back pack. The products that are created by Guidi imbue the heart and soul of the people that have so painstakingly and laboriously crafted these pieces by hand. With each item you carry a piece of these people and the history and traditions of their crafts. Their story shall mould and form as part of your story, like a Guidi boot moulds and forms to you with wear. In time they shall tell the story of your journey, just as our skin tells of our journey.