by María Paula Fernández
Hurlingham, a few kilometers away from frantic Buenos Aires, has an air of mystique. A traditional town of English immigrants, this place was visited by royalty, celebrities and top polo players because of a very special place: a workshop. This workshop is none other but the home of the best polo boots in the world. The Fagliano family, who has been running the shop since is beginnings, opened their doors for POLO+10.
Once you go past the Fagliano doors, the smell of leather impregnating the air, the machinery, the endless shelves containing boot molds of all sizes, surely make you acknowledge you are in a very special place, that has a story that deserves to be told. Eduardo and Hector Fagliano, are the 4th generation of boot makers, and with their father Rodolfo, and Eduardo’s son, Germán, they run the shop as their great grandparents used to.
The Faglianos have made and keep on making all their boots entirely by hand, with the processes and machinery they inherited, and without the aid of the latest technologies. Nowadays, in the age of mass production, the Fagliano boots have countless reasons that make them so outstanding. This undeniable appeal has brought to their door members of the English Royal Family, The Sultan of Brunei (who, by the way, was so impressed by the product, that ordered 120 pairs of boots at once), and even the actor Tommy Lee Jones, amongst the best polo players such as Adolfo Cambiaso.
This work philosophy called Julius Bär’s attention: the private bank understands both the sense uniqueness that comes, among others, through the respect for tradition. Fagliano’s essence and long-run heritage, together with the special dedication to each client in a most personal way, is perfectly related to the way that they run personal assets management in the prestigious bank. Thus, this resulted on an alliance, in which Eduardo Fagliano himself participated of the Julius Bär add campaign and they were chosen to be sponsored by the bank, joined together by one commitment: excellence.
Even Jaeger-LeCoultre, the luxury watch manufacturer, in 2011 celebrated the anniversary of their product Reverso (released in 1931) by a special edition with a handmade strap made by this craftmen family. Fagliano’s name is getting more recognized through their excellence day by day and their acceptance is growing steadily worldwide.
The Founder of POLO+10, Thomas Wirth, was able to speak with Eduardo Fagliano, who kindly answered some of our questions:
What do you think that is the key factor that makes Fagliano boots so special? Do you believe it is the quality, the expertise that has endured for more than 100 years, the materials you use….or maybe your (very) singular customers?
Fagliano started with the arrival from Italy of my great grandparents, and, here, in Hurlingham, Buenos Aires, we have been working since 1892, so its more than 120 years of experience. I believe the key factor is the material selection. We always are very thorough in selecting the best quality to make every pair, according to what our clients expect and, of course, by accomplishing to make the whole process by hand, that also ensures the best quality.
What do you and your family feel when a special client crosses your doors? You are famous to have handcrafted boots for royalty, celebrities, top polo players… There must be some nervousness still when you get their visit!
It is such a great experience every time we get a special visit, and we are really touched by it, and it is a reminder of the recognition that we have accomplished through all these years. Nevertheless, we believe that all clients should be treated like kings, and we bear that in mind always.
Which is the most singular pair of boots you had to make by request?
Well, we sure had a lot… some of them include embroidering in leather club logos, monograms, initials, but there’s always a new challenge coming up!
You are three generations working at the same time, in the same workshop, a family setting a honest example of tradition and passion about what they do. Which do you think were they key factors in your upbringing that made you feel the exact same passion your ancestors did?
We’ve been visiting the workshop ever since we were small kids, as our father did (he was born right here), and through watching our family work, we could experience how passionately they worked, thinking about how rewarding it was to do something that would be received by the client with deep affection. We started learning since early age, the very first steps, cutting the leather, or pinning nails everywhere, small tasks that gave us the possibility to learn the job, though you can never finish the learning process, there is always something new to discover. Our mentors always were open to our new ideas, because we always had the same goal: do our best, and keep on excelling the final product.
We know that you studied some engineering too. Did you ever think of starting a separate project or you just felt that more knowledge would complement your craft?
I have studied Mechanical Engineering in the Universidad Tecnológica Nacional for four years, but I have not finished it. Nonetheless, I was able to expand my knowledge in that years, that absolutely complemented my work here at the shop.
For the future, which are your expectations for the business?
Our will for the future is to continue with our quality standards, without rushing but also without stopping the progress. We sure hope our future generations, if they want, and God willing, keep the work with the same passion and dedication that we transmit to them.
And last question, how do you feel about Polo becoming more and more popular these days, do you feel it will lose its “élite sport” essence?
There is a special attraction to polo, and it was always that way. Nowadays, it is easier to start practicing it since amateur levels, the Polo fever has spread widely and it is easier to contact people that are involved in the sport and get you into it. I personally believe that the “elite sport” concept refers more specifically to put always first the principles of purity, quality and excellence in every aspect of polo. From our place in the polo world, we support that principles and hope that people keep working to keep that essence.
“Keep the essence”, “purity” and “excellence”, three adjectives that Eduardo Fagliano used for describing polo, unintentionally described the work that he and his family have been doing for so long. The Faglianos certainly know what polo is about, and live up to every aspect of it, in every pair of boots they make with such care and passion.
Casa Fagliano is specialized in shoe manufacturing, specifically adapted to horse riding or country activities. The result is an “almost everlasting” product. The best leather, the best thread, also the best soles and the use of certain tools for manufacturing, together with the most detailed production process, gives as a result an superior product that stands by itself.
History of the Fagliano family
In 1892, Pedro and Giacomina Fagliano, Italian inmigrants, started their workshop in Hurlingham Buenos Aires. With much effort and work, their perfect craftsmanship grew famous, which spread throughout the world. Their sons, Antonio, Santiago, Pedro and José continued to run the shop. In 1924, Eduardo Alighieri arrived from Sicily, contributed with his knowledge and experience. Pedro’s son, Rodolfo, was born in 1929 and together with his two sons, Eduardo and Héctor, is nowadays running the business. They have specialized in shoe manufacturing, following the european traditions and an entirely handmade production, and also a special care of quality and detail. More than 120 years of steady experience and excellence, that cannot be overlook by any polo lover.