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.  

The figure of the craftsman – or artisan – was very important in the middle ages, precisely because of the expertise in their own field as well as their teaching role in society. They could instruct others in the art of crafting or, in other words, the “practical or technical methods” to invent, build and make an object aesthetically appealing. Over time, these professionals passed these skills down from one generation to another, making it a family tradition. 

With the Industrial Revolution and the introduction of mass production, there was a division in labour between the man and the machine that created a whole new system in the art of making things. This is the case of Italian fashion – a complex system within which art, artistic craftsmanship, traditional knowledge and industrial technology coexist. The Italian fashion system is, in fact, mainly an industrial world. However, it is based on a large and interconnected network of small companies; from a structural point of view, they are often placed at the intersection with the artisan world. It can be difficult to unambiguously classify the work methodology of the operators, as the typical practices, techniques, and manual skills employed in craftsmanship are combined with a creative and innovative vision. 

In the artisan workshops today, industrial technologies are used. However, craftsmanship limits the use of sophisticated and fast machines to only some phases of the work. When the craft does require industrial aid, the dexterity of the craftsmen allows them to blend the novel technologies with traditional trade tools. 

In the transition from a linear to a circular economy, the value of craftsmanship is crucial. It is finally acknowledged that in this era of mass production and mass consumption, and the resulting immense quantities of waste, we should give more value to uniqueness. The future consists of handmade products, created from sustainable materials, and carriers of a particular story that lends itself to establish emotional connections to them. 

Made in Italy is one of the first worldwide brands, that transmits values of creativity, quality, and lifestyle in its fashion, design, furniture, food and robotics. It represents the Italian excellence that is designing the future and already accompanies us in several fields. 

In Italy, fashion and food are the pillars of culture, identity, and aesthetic. In the Made in Italy, we immediately see the excellence of design, style, and artisanal know-how that we nowadays associate with experimentation, technology, and a concern for nature and sustainability. The nation is developing a new synergy of taste and images, and a new lifestyle. If one talks about wellness in relation to food, one can also talk about wellness in relation to fashion. While food relates to territories and landscapes, fashion relates to the clothes we choose to wear in our social interactions. Food is about playfulness and creativity, performance, gestures, and theatricality, and so is fashion, even though the results are expressed differently.  

Fashion and food have produced brand partnerships for a long time, offering an inventive mélange of identities and innovations. Through these brand partnerships and savvy marketing strategies, food companies are increasingly creating multi-sensory interactions and merchandise to offer their customers a more memorable, engaging, and purchase-inducing experience.  

Meanwhile, luxury houses are taking fine dining by the storm, with Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Swiss luxury watchmakers IWC Schaffhausen, and Breitling jumping on the premium dining trend with new restaurants and cafe openings. Food and fashion share the same idea of delivering an immersive experience to the final customer, where the brand can define a lifestyle more than just an outfit or a look.  

At the same time, we can see another trend that characterizes the relationship between the fashion and the food industries. Sustainability has now become a fundamental requirement for brands to stay in the market and one of the directions taken by companies is to invest in new sustainable materials for their collections. More and more companies have found new sustainable materials thanks to extensive research and development. Among these realities, we find many innovative start-ups which, starting from various types of plant elements, have managed to develop fabrics that can be used in the fashion industry. And it is here that we find once again a link between food and fashion. Many of these new innovative and sustainable materials are created from the waste from the food industry.  

The connections between the fashion and food industries are therefore not only cultural or linked to marketing initiatives, but also at the level of new opportunities linked to sustainability.  

a) Academic/peer reviewed 

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