Tre Gioie’s bag collection: an ode to female Apulian craftsmanship

tre gioie bag collection

Tre Gioie launches a handmade bag collection from Puglia made by one of the few women who still practice the traditional art of manual weaving. This art is an important part of Apulian history and dates back to 1880. Now there are not a lot of women left who dedicate themselves to this art. By launching a collection of unique handmade bags and baskets, Tre Gioie strives to prevent this industry from disappearance.

Around 1880 there was a group of women who started the art of weaving baskets by hand. The baskets were made with a sparse swamp grass that grows near some bodies of water in southern Puglia. Harvesting the reed ​​was done in the Summer at full moon, at that time, a task for the men. They cycled to the swamps and took the reed home on the back. When they got home, the reed ​was cooked and laid out to be sun-dried the next day. This happened for a few weeks, making the green reed ​​straw-coloured. After drying, it was exposed to sulfur in a small space. This allows the women to weave the reed ​​without breaking it.
The creations of the women became a relevant product. The baskets were used daily to store olives and cheese and in difficult times these products became an important medium of exchange and were traded in exchange for food. The practicality of these objects led them to be requested not only among the village markets of Salento but also beyond and their popularity grew.

From the 1960s, the sector began to undergo a slow and gradual decline. With the advent of plastic, interest in woven reeds declined. Plastic lasted longer but was above all cheaper. In addition, there were fewer and fewer swamps where the reeds were extracted because they were being drained. The industry contracted and people could no longer live off it so the people moved north in search of more profitable jobs.

At this time there are unfortunately not a lot of women left who dedicate themselves to the art of manual weaving and the sector is in danger of total extinction. We found one of the few women who still practice the art and we created a collection of bags and baskets. With this collection, we want to invest in this art and give a stage to the women who created this valuable part of Apulian history. That is why all the styles in our collection are named after Italian women. By buying their creation you support the tradition and help us rebuild the industry. With this collection, we can make it interesting for the women in Salento to start weaving again and pass this art on to their children. That is how we maintain Apulian craftmanship. 

This collection will consist of small drops because we respect our makers and nature. It takes a few days to create a bag, so we want to give our makers enough time to create. The size of the collection also depends on how many reed there is each year. We create with her and do not let nature work for us. Sometimes we have a smaller harvest and then we adapt to that. The items in the collection can change every drop. We try to repeat the popular styles, but also let our makers create what they feel like making.