Glovemaker Keeps Dream Alive in New York

Another story that caught my eye a few days later had a more inspiring tone, if a bit bittersweet. The New York Times Style section ran a feature (Heir to a Glove Town’s Legacy) with  a Gloversville, NY dateline. The town in upstate New York was once the center of the glovemaking universe, home to countless craftsmen.  Now, virtually singlehandedly, glovemaker Daniel Storto is keeping the dream alive.

(Photo by Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times)

(Photo of Daniel Storto by Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times)

The president of the Gloversville Chamber of Commerce pointed out that “When the last of the old-timers retired, their skills went with them.” Then seven years ago, Daniel Storto, a Seventh Avenue designer (born to a family of immigrant Italian tailors) transplanted himself to Gloversville. Vogue editor Hamish Bowles calls him “the haute couturier of gloves.”

Storto worked for many years with the late legendary designer Geoffrey Beene, and with the likes of Dries Van Noten and smaller labels like Duckie Brown. The Times piece said that “He makes beautiful unlined lamb suede gloves that connoisseurs order by the half-dozen, apparently undaunted by prices that start at $450 a pair.” In 2007 his L.O.V.E. gloves were a cover feature story in American Craft magazine.

Here’s the emotional heart of this story: Storto said “I thought I was a glove maker, but I wasn’t a glove maker at all until I met the old-timers. Until I came here, I had no idea what you could do with the craft.” Those old-timers were  so “inspired by his efforts to elevate their craft” that “many of them made him a gift of their tools.”

And my favorite anecdote: “The maul he uses daily to make die cuts on leather once belonged to Joe Pagano, a craftsman from one of the Neapolitan dynasties that trace their history as glove makers to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.”

“I wanted to pay him, but he wouldn’t let me,” Mr. Storto told The Times. “He told me: ‘That’s the history. The tools get passed down from glove maker to glove maker, and you’re it.’ ”

And Storto apparently enjoys the laidback lifestyle in Gloversville. “There really are more important things in life” than making money, he said. Spoken like a true artisan.

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