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From the Giro d’Italia to the Grand Tour with Alviero Martini’s creations

Alviero Martini and 1a Classe, the line of bags that made him famous and that combines vintage charm and modern style.

reading time4 minutes

Today’s stage of the Giro d’Italia Sanremo-Cuneo arrives in the city of Alviero Martini, an eclectic and ingenious entrepreneur who created an empire starting with a map and inventing the line of 1ª Classe bags, which became famous for the unmistakable Mappa Geo, a Made in Italy icon around the world.

Geo bag
Geo bag

From theater to window dressing

Born in Cuneo in 1950, Alviero Martini learned sewing very young. After attending the artistic high school, he enrolled in a course specialising in window-dressing. He began his career as a costume designer and, at 26, joined a theatre company as an actor, acting alongside Gassman in ‘Affabulazione’, a play by Pier Paolo Pasolini.

After leaving the theatre, he moved to Rome to devote himself to the profession of stage designer, and it was here that the idea that made him world-famous came to life. While setting up a shop window in Via dei Condotti, Alviero decided to decorate a cardboard suitcase with a vintage map. The result was a success, as it captured attention by recalling the charm and tradition of the Grand Tour and gave him the idea for a new line of bags.

The ’90s and international success

In 1991, he founded his company in Milan, near the Navigli. But international success came when the American press took notice of his iconic creations and consecrated him as a ‘Style Maker‘ with an unmistakable style, the inventor of a new way of conceiving travel. Within a decade, Alviero Martini opened boutiques in Italy and worldwide through collaborations with local partners and retail channels.

In 1996, the UN commissioned a dress with the map motif that made him famous for the Time for Peace award ceremony in New York. In the same year, his Rome store hosted a Richard Gere exhibition, with 20 photographs of his trip to Tibet.

Alviero Martini and Richard Gere
Alviero Martini and Richard Gere

A new adventure

In 2003, Martini sold the 1a Classe brand and devoted himself to a new line of bags that he called ALV (Andare Lontano Viaggiando), featuring a print with postmarks from around the world. This new line was also an instant success and, in 2010, won the famous The Look of the Year Fashion Awards, the equivalent of the Oscars for Fashion.

Today, Alviero Martini 1a Classe is a brand of the Final Spa Group, has two flagship stores in Milan and Rome and single-brand shops, employs dozens of people, has a turnover of millions of euros and sells worldwide through travel retail, wholesale and e-commerce channels.

Congratulations to those who imagine a different way of travelling and bring Italy to the world.