Last month I got a chance to visit the studio of Geoffrey B. Small, the American-born designer who has been working in Cavarzere, in the Veneto region of Italy. Veneto is the heart of the Italian fashion industry with a storied tradition of clothes making. It used to be that you could not throw a stone without hitting a fabric manufacturer or a shirt-making factory. Globalization has killed all that by outsourcing much of the work to other countries in Europe and Asia.
But this has only made Geoffrey more determined to carry on with his ethos of hand-made, artisanal production. All of sample-making and production happens in his studio – cutting, dyeing, and garment construction. Some of the lovely Italian women I met are, despite being highly skilled seamstresses and tailors, refugees from the global production crisis that has hit Veneto hard. But Geoffrey is determined to carry on, and his newly found success is a testament that there is still an audience for artisanal clothing.
Below is my photo essay from Geoffrey’s studio, which includes the introduction to his new footwear, completely handmade by a single artisan. I have tried to capture not only the skills of Geoffrey’s team, but also the humanity of his operation.
Photography by Eugene Rabkin and may not be reproduced without expressed permission.