He has lived all over the world. It has traveled the other way. Has done business in both parties. But Luis Negri (Argentina, 53 years old) says that the decision to settle in Madrid comes directly from his heart. Because there is no place to live like Madrid this today creator of luxury bags has bright eyes, sitting in front of a cafe in a soft armchair in the bright central courtyard of the Palace hotel. He will only be in the capital for four years, but it is clear that he has gotten the best of it quickly.
Negri’s is an unusual life that has resulted in an unusual profession with artisan roots. Born near Dusseldorf, Germany, where his father went to do an internship with a prestigious doctor for nine months he returned to Argentina from his parents. Today I’m a bit from all over the places miles this calm and talkative man, who assures that one of the things he likes most about his life and his job is meeting new people and learning from them it has changed life, it allows me to absorb things and I learn a vision outside of myself.
What really changed her life was a profession she chose. Luis Negri is a malletier, that is a master manufacturer of suitcases and trunks. He studied economics, but he knew it was just the basis for something else. As a child, I learned to play the violin and I still study it he explains. Music was very present in his house: his brother is a professional violinist. And when he was studying, by chance, inspiration came to him. In the typical 17, to 18-year-old conversations of ‘let’s see how I can find my life. My brother had come from Paris to study and had brought a French case. In Argentina, there was nothing like that and he told me why not do it. That’s where I started.
The thing was not bad, but it was an experiment. But then he decided to follow his brother, who was at a professional conservatory in Lübeck, Germany. I went there when I was 22, 23 years old. He did not speak German. Looking for my life, because they didn’t give me work anywhere, I said to myself ‘I’m going to make a violin case. He started teaching Spanish to survive and with a handful of dollars converted into German marks, he made a case. It took him more than three months because he made all the molds with his own hands and he patched the textile with a familiar sewing machine. A student from the conservatory bought it and, although well paid, he did not stop giving him some pain. I stared at the bills and my baby who was going with him I reset myself and thought about investing it and making two more, he recalls.
These two samples that he made with his earnings, he managed to place them in a prestigious London store thanks to a contact from the conservatory. In two weeks they called me, that they had sold one to an Arab client for 3,000 euros. Suddenly he was rich! With that money, I bought my first industrial sewing machine and I have already set up my small workshop, he explains. All that baggage is what makes you professional today, that is, being able to master the materials with which you work.
Negri says that he would have loved working with a professional manufacturer. But I had to experience it all alone. That made him open the first workshop in Germany, go to Valencia, return to his native Argentina, reside for a time in Cremona (Italy) the birthplace of the Stradivarius live a season in Vigo. until he settled in Madrid. I regret not having known Spain before he acknowledges. It was in Buenos Aires that the first steps in fashion came to him his violin cases converted into covers for wine bottles. From there came the orders and the idea of converting them into bags.
In the violin case, the star is the violin. But the bag itself is magical. It allows unlimited creative freedom he explains. Theirs are small boxes, micro briefcases, lined with the most sumptuous leathers from all over the world and with details such as a mirror inside the lid, well-cared fittings, or golden corner pieces. His very careful ballets, as he calls them, they are light, weighing just 400 grams (although it also manufactures a larger format) and they fit what is necessary.
Prices range from 475 to more than 8,500 euros. He, more than by seasons, has preferred to create by themes, which gives him more creative freedom. The obligation to make collections reduces quality and also imagination, it lacks depth, he says. The next one, for example, will be based on Louis XIV, with light to get out of this darkness. I need feathers, glitter, red, gold, white. Negri has three children aged 15, 14, and seven, the oldest of whom wants to follow in his footsteps, although he sees them as more directed towards management or creativity. But not to crafts that will die with me.
When his business was consolidated, the Argentine decided to open a store in Claudio Coello, near Ortega y Gasset, with an artisan factory downstairs where he organized workshops with friends and clients. That was at the end of 2017. In March 2020, as the contract expired and the pandemic loomed, he decided to close it. In these months he has seen that the internet business was established, that people lost their fear of buying luxury. But he already has his eye on a couple of places to reopen although we have to wait for the right moment. That is why for now it has offices in Las Tablas and a warehouse in Alcorcónwhich serves as a workshop, living room, office. Also, in his plans for the next five years, he foresees stores in London or New York together with local partners. But his base would continue in Madrid. It is difficult to find a better place to live.