Barbara Cesare is Fratelli Borgioli chief of the company inner stitching department. In this interview we will discover what are inner stitchings and the managing of the sub workers. Discover more!


A few months ago we interviewed Fabiola Nardini, a Fratelli Borgioli artisan. Today we’re going to have a talk with Barbara: a passionate artisan who has been working with Fratelli Borgioli since 1988.

She has worked for Fratelli Borgioli since she was a young woman: she worked in the stitching department, initially from home and then, in 1989 she was hired in the company inner stitching department. Everyday there are new challenges to face and according to Barbara, this is the beauty of her job.

We asked her some questions about her work and what it means to work for Fratelli Borgioli. Read the interview to find out more about Barbara!


Questions for Barbara

  1. Hi Barbara! Could you please introduce yourself and tell us something about yourself?
  2. For how long have you been working for Fratelli Borgioli? What are your job duties?
  3. What is the stitching department and which are the main machineries you work with?
  4. What does a stitching department kit include?
  5. How do the stitching techniques change in relation to the material used?
  6. What is the upper and what kind of uppers exist?
  7. How are the soles being attached to the upper? Is it a handmade process or do you use specific machines?
  8. What is the origin and the characteristics of the materials you use to create the upper?
  9. In your opinion, which is the additional value of the techniques used in your stitching department for the production of Fratelli Borgioli shoes?
  10. At present you are in charge of managing the sub workers? What makes you choose one worker over another?
  11. Your suppliers come from the Tuscan Leather District. How important is the link with the local territory and what impact does it have on production?
  12. When the work comes back from outside workers, is there also a subsequent processing and control phase?
  13. In your opinion, in the not too distant future, could automation replace craftsmanship?

#1. Hi! Could you please introduce yourself and tell us something about yourself?

My name is Barbara, I’m married and I have a son of 25 years old.

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#2. For how long have you been working for Fratelli Borgioli? What are your job duties?

I started as a worker in the stitching department in 1988, working initially from home. Since 1989 I have been hired in the company inner stitching department.

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#3. What is the stitching department and which are the main machineries you work with?

The stitching process involves the steps necessary to put together all the pieces of leather that compound the shoe. We mainly use the sewing machines of different shapes, based on the type of sewing we need to execute.

In addition to that, we also put the hardeners on the toe and on the heel of the shoe, after that we join the external part of the shoe with the lining.

Cesare Barbara sews the upper with the loom 2

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#4. What does a stitching department kit include?

When I prepare the order for the sub-workers of our stitching department I need to think about every component that composes the style. For example, if we are talking about the double buckle, I need to count how many buckles a production batch requires.

So, the stitching department kit includes all the necessary pieces that compound the shoe, like leather, lining, hardeners, eyelets, elastan, sewing thread.

stitching of the upper 2

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#5. How do the stitching techniques change in relation to the material used?

We can write a book on this issue. Every style has its construction and technical details that change in relation to the materials we use.

There is no fixed rule, we make our choice based on our experience to find an optimum solution for each specific type of shoe. This part of my job represents its beauty, every day there are new challenges to face.

Barbara Cesare looks at the sewing threads 2

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#6. What is the upper and what kind of uppers exist?

The upper is the shoe without the sole. There is an upper for every type of shoe, oxfords, derby, loafer, moccasin, boots, high boots, beatles, driving moccasins etc.

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#7. How are the soles being attached to the upper? Is it a handmade process or do you use specific machines?

Usually the soles are being attached in the following step, after passing through the stitching department. Anyway, there are some models which sole is put inside the shoe in the stitching department.

These models are driving moccasins. To produce these models, 90% of work is being made in our stitching department.

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#8. What is the origin and the characteristics of the materials you use to create the upper?

We majorly work with calf leather and suede, we happen to use materials like satin or velvet for evening shoes.

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#9. In your opinion, which is the additional value of the techniques used in your stitching department for the production of Fratelli Borgioli shoes?

To create Borgioli shoes we use only prime quality materials, many processes are still made by hand, like sewing the moccasins, brogueing and hole designs.

Barbara Cesare chooses the material for the shoes 2

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#10. At present you are in charge of managing the sub workers. What makes you choose one worker over another?

We chose the sub worker based on their technical skills, to every batch of production. Some workers are more skilled at stitching high boots and not the loafers, some workers are very good at crafting with velvet and satin and not leather.

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#11. Your suppliers come from the Tuscan Leather District. How important is the link with the local territory and what impact does it have on production?

Having suppliers nearby is very important, in fact we work everything within a 20 km radius. Our workers are present daily in our structure and this relationship allows us to have under control the whole cycle of work.

Barbara Cesare chooses the color of the fabrics 2

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#12. When the work comes back from outside workers, is there also a subsequent processing and control phase?

It depends on the models, everything that falls within is checked before moving on to the next phase, and in some cases we have to do some work internally, which outside workers do not have the necessary expertise to do.

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#13. In your opinion, in the not too distant future, could automation replace craftsmanship?

For the type of shoe we make here I think automation is impossible, and manual intervention is always necessary. In Borgioli shoes you can feel the passion that the artisans put in making them.

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We thank Barbara Cesare who gave us the opportunity to take a look inside the Fratelli Borgioli shoe making process.

Want to meet another Fratelli Borgioli artisan? Read the interview to Andrea!