The multifaceted Veneto region has an ancient history. Stretching from the Dolomites to the Adriatic Sea, its cities are works of art in themselves: masterpieces that preserve magnificent artistic and architectural works, with excellent handicrafts, food and wine. It has strong links to culture, with prestigious universities and a whole host of museums. And then there is the entrepreneurial spirit of its people, which, together with pragmatism and creativity, has resulted in the exponential growth of the fashion sector. The triangle between Padua, Venice and Treviso boasts a flourishing fashion system created by three historic companies that have transformed the Made in Veneto brand into a source of pride the world over.

Footwear Museum of Villa Foscarini Rossi

The Riviera del Brenta area, known for its natural and architectural beauty, also has a strong shoemaking tradition dating back to 1268 when the Scuola dei Calegheri, a prestigious guild of shoemakers, was founded in Venice. Like all traditions, the art of shoemaking has been handed down over the centuries from father to son. In Veneto, it spread and developed in the region, becoming an industrial sector in 1898. Today, some of the leading international shoe brands manufacture their products in the region. Rossimoda is the ambassador to this tradition. Founded in 1947 by the enterprising Narciso Rossi and later run by his son Luigino, Rossimoda is now one of the most important shoe factories in the Riviera del Brenta.

Top-quality materials, the perfect fit, casual creativity and staying ahead of the curve are the key to its success. In the early 1960s, the initial plan for the brand was to sell its own handmade, refined products on the market. Following a collaboration with Jourdan, however, a Dior shoes licensee, Luigino Rossi realized that the road to success meant following in the footsteps of brands with great international appeal. The turning point for the Brenta-based shoe factory came in 1963 when it signed an agreement with Yves Saint Laurent which lasted until 2000. Contracts with the likes of Anne Klein, Givenchy, Ungaro, Porsche, Vera Wang, Calvin Klein, Christian Lacroix, Fendi, Emilio Pucci and Celine followed. The company still creates new and original collections while respecting the style of each brand. In 2003, Rossimoda was acquired by the luxury financial group LVMH, adding new brands to the list of collaborations and boosting the company’s growth. The story behind this success is recounted in the Footwear Museum at Villa Foscarini Rossi, in Stra, in an exhibition of over 1,300 models of luxury women’s shoes created by the company throughout its history. The museum is in an exceptional location: a marvelous series of 17th century buildings that was first a farm and later the summer residence of the Foscarini family of Venetian nobility. The restoration of the main building was entrusted to the architect, Vincenzo Scamozzi, an apprentice of Palladio, while the decorations and frescoes that adorn the banqueting hall of the adjacent guest quarters were painted by Pietro Liberi and Domenico de Bruni.

Padua, the birthplace of medicine, is not far away. With its network of alleys, squares and markets, Padua is home to the Basilica of St. Anthony, to Giotto’s magnificent Scrovegni Chapel and to good wine. Its university hosts some of the most brilliant minds in Europe and its carefree spirit happily coexists with the solemnity and elegance of the refined neighborhoods.

Rubelli Company Archive

Venice. Canals, calle, fondamenta and sestrieri, underpasses, houses at the water’s edge. Whether sumptuous or decadent, Venice’s architecture is always fascinating, with the San Marco Basilica – one of the most beautiful in the world – the Rialto Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs. The city is also home to gondolas, Carnival, ‘bacari’ (wine bars), important museums, famous people, ancient and noble artisan traditions. Among these is the textile tradition which reveals to visitors the city’s close ties with merchants and travelers. At the time of La Serenissima (the Republic of Venice), spices, ivory and silk arrived here from Byzantium. Since then, Venice has continued to produce fine fabrics destined at first for the main European courts, then noble palaces and historic houses. Today, they adorn embassies and museums.

In the San Marco district, Ca’ Pisani Rubelli houses the Rubelli Historical Archive, that brings together over 6000 textile documents dating from the end of the 15th century to the first half of the 20th century.

Rubelli is one of the iconic companies in the industry. It was founded at the end of the 19th century, when Lorenzo Rubelli took over the Giobatta Trapolin company, which produced trimmings, velvets, lampas and brocades. From the very beginning, Lorenzo and his son Dante Zeno, who both had a flair for business, expanded their sales and production in Italy and Europe. Their success was immediate. Over the years, changes in society and taste led Rubelli to diversify its offer, moving towards a more contemporary style, but without abandoning tradition and the high quality of materials. In the 1920s and 30s, collaborations started with internationally renowned artists and architects such as Guido Cadorin, Umberto Bellotto, Vittorio Zecchin and Gio Ponti. The company’s fabrics were exhibited at the Venice Biennale, the Milan Triennale and used to furnish the Royal Household in the early twentieth century. After World War II, Alessandro Favaretto Rubelli, Dante Zeno’s nephew, took over from him. Over 65 years of business, he upgraded production processes transferring ancient weaving techniques to electronic looms. Rubelli’s history has been long and successful and is still on the crest of a wave today. It is a leading sector-based company at international level, thanks to the expertise and experience acquired and its tireless research and innovation.

Benetton Archive

Treviso, the capital of the Marca Trevigiana area, is an elegant, friendly city, with canals running through the old city center, 16th century walls, a bell tower and domed cathedral, Piazza dei Signori with the Palazzo del Podestà and its elegant porticos. It is a city with an excellent combination of wonderful natural areas, stunning artistic beauty, spirit and energy, gastronomic delights (red radicchio reigns supreme in the kitchen) and a well-established industrial sector. One of the most famous fashion companies on the planet was founded in 1965, just outside Treviso. Benetton made Italian fashion famous well before the fast fashion giants that now dominate cities all over the world came on the scene. It became an unmistakable brand, with its small stylized knit stitch logo designed by Franco Giacometti and Giulio Cittato in 1971. In reality, it all began in the early 1950s when Giuliana Benetton designed a yellow sweater for her brother, Luciano. That’s how it started: Giuliana produced; Luciano sold. A few years later, Gilberto and Carlo, the other two brothers, joined the project. Success soon arrived. The idea of modernizing the classic wool sweater by producing it in 36 colors was simple, innovative and, above all, proved to be a winner. The company took off, thanks also to its affordable prices. A franchising network was set up alongside the store in Belluno, which opened in 1965.

Then, came Oliviero Toscani’s highly effective and thought-provoking advertising campaigns which highlighted social issues such as racism, sex, religion, war, the Mafia, the death penalty, AIDS and violence. These campaigns are all now etched in our collective memory. At this point, Benetton is unstoppable. The company was also able to withstand the pressure from foreign fast fashion companies. This was thanks to the strong identity that set it apart: an identity made of style, color, authentic fashion and affordable quality. Today, the company has a network of around 5,000 stores around the globe. Despite its international presence, the brand retains strong links with its local area, particularly through the cultural activities carried out by the Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche and its commitment to social projects. The Benetton Archive preserves the company’s historical memory, created inside a multipurpose center of the Castrette plant in the Benetton Studios in 2009.

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