Fabiola Nardini is Fratelli Borgioli chief pattern maker. According to her, having passion is the only way to push yourself beyond your limits and improve the way you work. Read more!


A few months ago we interviewed Andrea Cassai, a Fratelli Borgioli artisan. Today we’re going to have a talk with Fabiola: a passionate artisan who has been working with Fratelli Borgioli since 1995.

She began her career at Fratelli Borgioli in the binding department. In 2008 she attended a course to become a pattern maker. She is currently our chief pattern maker and the cutting department’s supervisor.

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 Fabiola!


Questions For Fabiola

  1. Hi Fabiola. Could you please introduce yourself and tell us something about you?
  2.  How long have you been working for Fratelli Borgioli and what positions have you held
  3. What business activities do you deal with? Specifically what is your role as pattern maker and as cutting department’s supervisor?
  4. What do you like most about your job? What are your main working tools?
  5. What are the most difficult pattern making processing techniques to learn?
  6. Is technology an important part of your work?
  7. How do you make tradition and innovation coexist in what you do
  8. According to your patterns maker’s point of view, what are the main distinctive features of Fratelli Borgioli footwear and what are its strengths?
  9. Could you tell us a particular anecdote or episode that happened to you during your artisan career?
  10. As an experienced artisan, what advice would you give to someone who wants to start your work? How can knowledge be transmitted through young artisans?

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

Hi, I’m Fabiola, I’m married and I’m the mother of two grown children aged 26 and 17. At the moment I’m the shoe factory’s pattern maker and the cutting department’s supervisor.

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#2. How long have you been working for Fratelli Borgioli and what positions have you held? 

I started to work in the shoe factory in 1995, three months after my son was born. My first job was in the binding department, I was assigned the making patterns task. Then, I moved on to the cutting department to organize the work for internal and external cutters.

In 2008 I attended a course to become a pattern maker, and since then I have started working on developing shoe prototypes that previously were assigned to external pattern makers.

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#3. What business activities do you deal with? What is your specific role as pattern maker and as cutting department’s supervisor?

I implement the ideas that people propose to me. Basically, I convert the stylist’s drawings into the physical pattern that is created to realize the final product. I manage all stages of the development process as the model is approved to start its production.

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#4. What do you like most about your job?

My job has many facets and is never monotonous, I always deal with new things, new patterns, new leather’s types. Making sure that everything is the way it should be is an engaging and always different challenge.

Sometimes, changing the type of leather can bring new problems that I have to solve by finding new solutions that have never been adopted before in the entire production process, from binding to shoe assembly.

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#5. What are your main working tools?

The tools I use while working are both very basic such as pencil, cardboard, ruler, compass, cobbler’s knife, and more complex as CAD programs whereby computer patterns are created.

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#6. What are the most difficult pattern making processing techniques to learn? 

The hardest part of my job is to understand the stylist’s drawing and turn it into the mold to get the pattern. Sometimes, before starting the production, some millimetric corrections are made on the patterns to achieve the right balance both visual and functional.

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#7. Is technology an important part of your work? How do you make tradition and innovation coexist in what you do? 

Technology is important because it helps me to accelerate some job phases, such as the pattern grading and corrections. But if the basic knowledge of the patterns making is not there, it is impossible to work.

I still prefer to make patterns by hand, with pencil, cardboard and cobbler’s knife. Then, I digitalize the material to transfer it to the computer and cutting machines.

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#8. According to your patterns maker’s point of view, what are the main distinctive features of Fratelli Borgioli footwear and what are its strengths?

After 25 years of work here I can say that something I always see in Borgioli footwear is the research of comfort and a classic look. While making the shoes you always try to privilege the comfort of the customer who will wear the shoe.

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#9. Could you tell us a particular anecdote or episode that happened to you during your artisan career? 

I remember when I entered the cutting department, in the early days I often caused myself little cuts with the knife and the elderly craftsmen always told me: “don’t worry it’s the work that gets in your blood”.

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#10. As an experienced artisan, what advice would you give to someone who wants to start your work? How can knowledge be passed on to young artisans?

Like everyone in all jobs, passion leads you to learn more and more, to understand your possibilities and push yourself beyond your limits.

I learned everything from the artisans who were there before me: I always followed their advice, then while working I adapted it to my way, but I always started from their way to work.

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We thank Fabiola for revealing us some behind the scenes of the Fratelli Borgioli’s shoemaking process. If you are a shoes passionate you can also read our interview with sneaker restorer Jacopo De Carli!