Craftsmanship is the “skill in a particular craft” or “the level of skill shown by somebody in making something beautiful with their hand”. It refers both to the skill of a person and to the quality of a product, object or creation.
The full concept of craftsmanship began to take hold in the fifteenth century and then it definitively established itself in the following century; it responds to the need of outlining the boundaries that separate art from other manufacturing processes. During the Middle Ages, artifacts were hand-made, and the production of specific goods enabled the definition of specific professions and social structures that were maintained through time. In this context, the distinction between artist and craftsman was decidedly less immediate than it is today. On the one hand, the term artist was the only existing one while the term craftsman was unknown, but art also indicated the technical ability necessary for the creation of an object "in a workmanlike manner". The artist was first of all the creator, or the one who in his profession knew how to do something better than others. It was therefore the qualitative attribute of the practice – its excellence, and not the task itself, that was the watershed between one world and another.
Craftsmanship has always been a very essential part of fashion. The skills of dressmakers and shoemakers can be traced back to the cavemen. These were developed as an elementary need for protection. With the growth of the aesthetic impulse came also the introduction of various surface development techniques. For example, techniques like embroidery, weaving, dyeing, and printing, which are still very important elements of fashion today.
These crafts were marginalized with the growth of the industrial revolution and the emergence of the knowledge economy, and consequently became simply a tradition. However, nowadays, there is still a foreseeable future for it, given the current trend in consumer culture stressing authenticity and quality – both important elements of craftmanship. This is relevant for the new paradigm of manufacturing: “slow factory”. This framework acknowledges and utilizes the skills and creativity of the craftsman while also paying homage to its heritage.