Friendly Friday: Officina del Poggio

(Read to the end for a special note:)

As many of you know, I am a big fan of Officina del Poggio leather bags. I first learned about the brand when a friend wore one of their leather trunk-style safari bags to brunch three years ago and I couldn’t stop looking at it. It was so well made, so unique and elegant. I had to get one for myself.

My first ODP bag was the belt bag, which you have no doubt seen me wear. Next, I got the water bottle bag for when I’m out at The Local Chapter. It holds my car keys, my phone, a slim wallet, and its nice to always have water handy; the desert is so dehydrating.

Since starting this blog 10 years ago, I have always featured creative entrepreneurs that I love and today I am proud to introduce you to my digital friend, Allison Hoeltzel Savini, creator of Officina del Poggio.

How did you start ODP?

I worked for many years in leather goods product development and management for other brands and had built a great network of tanneries and manufacturers. As a collector of vintage bags, I have always been drawn to utilitarian style bags and classic styles which really stand the test of time. So in 2014, I went to one of my factories with the idea to do a few prototypes, to create feminine and modern versions of these utilitarian bags. I also wanted to focus on Made-in-Italy craftsmanship and materials, like vegetable-tanned leather which, at the time, was not as popular, juxtaposing with more luxe materials like velvet and plexiglass. We made the prototypes and I started showing them to friends, then they started wearing them and I was contacted by a large trade show in Italy who asked me to participate in a special project at their fair. I started out the first season with orders from a few small stores, although at the time I was still working full-time consulting for other brands. Finally, in 2017 I decided to dedicate myself almost exclusively to the brand.

Over the past year, ODP has worked hard to build up their Direct-to-Consumer business by connecting with their community, building up their customer base, and strengthening the relationship that they had with current customers. This was a direct result of their largest retailer, Barneys New York, filing for bankruptcy. They were able to keep things going, and a large part of that was due to the launch of the Bottle Bag and the visibility it gave the brand. It was launched last summer in time for fashion month.

Awards and Press Features

Last year ODP was cited as “Ones to Watch” by Women’s Wear Daily during *Milan Fashion Week* which was a huge high point for the brand!

I realized the brand’s biggest strength is that I am based here in Italy, with direct access to so many suppliers. So I also decided to re-evaluate our business model, to create more frequent drops and capsule collections, with smaller and limited production runs and also featuring Italian materials.

Allison Hoeltzel Savini, Designer of Officiana del Poggio

ODP is constantly striving to be more sustainable with the choice of materials and packaging. With the help of model and sustainable fashion ambassador Arizona Muse, they created the capsule collection which focuses mainly on the materials used. Like the dust bags, which they are now making from organic cotton and making in a re-usable shopping bag style. They also try to keep everything as local as possible in Northern Italy, from the materials to the manufacturing, which allows them to also closely monitor the processes and production. Even their photoshoots they try to keep as local as possible, both with the choice of location and also using local models.

New Collection

The Fall/Winter 2020 Collection, launching online August 18th, features fabrics from Rubelli, the historic fabric house from Venice, selected from their surplus and overstock fabrics, thus produced also with a sustainable mindset. Aligned with their new business model, they have just launched the new Basket Bag.

How did you create the basket bag?

This was a really fun project as I had a friend who had asked me where she could find a cute basket bag like one she had bought in Sicily years ago on vacation. I go to Sicily every summer to visit friends, so I knew just who to call and was able to source the basket. Yet then I thought: why not add leather trim and a little interior pouch, making it a little more sophisticated. So I made a prototype, started testing it out myself and had several Facetime calls with my friend to get her feedback, and then launched the production right away. It was also great timing for the basket-maker, as he was facing reduced sales due to COVID and lack of tourism, and the factory making the leather trim was also able to fill in his production schedule… so it was a win-win for all!

As I mentioned above, the ODP bottle bag has been one of my favorites lately, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the basket bag.

Allison is a fellow SMU alumni and she was so gracious when I asked if she would consider giving my readers a special code. Use AVB20, to receive 20% off your *entire* order on OdP. I hope you enjoy wearing your bag as much as I do mine.

Also, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and also in the app. Happy Shopping!