Ottavio Re’s workshop, founded in 1935, was taken over in 1973 by Emanuele Coletto, who had been working there as an employee since 1949.
Emanuel’s son Sergio then took over after leaning the secrets of the trade, and together with his collaborators, creates excellent buttons and belts with traditional techniques and tools.
Ever since the year of the foundation of this shop in Via Bagutta, at the centre of the famous Fashion Quadrilateral, he continues his craft, which has become very rare today: the creation of belts and, more importantly, buttons – of all shapes and materials, created according to the artisan’s fancy or at the client’s request. In any event, everything is created and packaged strictly by hand in the workshop next to the showroom.
What drove you to become a maestro d'arte?
"My family played a fundamental role, which made an artisan of me. In fact, my training took place directly in the field, by going to the workshop to learn, and this is also because there really are no schools to learn this trade".
My training took place directly in the field, by going to the workshop to learn, and this is also because there really are no schools to learn this trade.
What kind of relationship do you have with Milan and the world of fashion?
"Our central location is essential, because our clientele and the people who circulate in the Fashion Quadrilateral are the same. We also collaborate with some great fashion designers and we also supply some of Milan’s long-established tailors and dressmakers ".
What is your clientele like?
"My clients are mainly Italians, even if there are a lot of foreigners. In Italy, there is still a certain culture of quality, while foreigners, in particular Russians and Arabs (I mention them especially because at this moment in history, they are the ones with the most buying power), are more interested in the brand. Once upon a time, I had many Japanese clients, but not any more".
How do you see the role of institutions in the management, promotion and protection of art professions?
"We are neither protected nor valued by the institutions.
The City of Milan had promised to publish a series of volumes with the history of all of the "Historical Workshops in Milan", artisans or otherwise.
It was a good initiative but unfortunately it did not have the success we had hoped for. Moreover, it is difficult to get good raw materials because suppliers are closing down; demand is in decline".