Italian made shoes – they fill the closets of fashion enthusiasts, occupying our footwear fantasies and making us look poised and polished in any situation. Coming off a whirlwind market success in 2010, they seem poised to capture the attention of an even wider audience. So what led to this?
Style is one of the chief reasons for buying these shoes. Their allure can be attributed to a legacy of fine artisan details, superior leather quality and workmanship. As consumers today, we have an appreciation for 'genuine luxury' when it comes to handmade shoes, acknowledging details like the fineness of leather inserts and high quality care.“It is fundamental,” affirms Diego Rossetti, president of Fratelli Rossetti S.p.A., “that we do not surrender to the temptation of cutting corners, moving production elsewhere, yet still saying it has been made here: the market should be approached using the weapon of quality.”
This decision has important consequences, explains Giuseppe Santoni, president of Santoni Group: “If being a global market leader in men's footwear is determined by volume of sales, then Italian-made products will never be at the top. If, on the other hand, it is measured in terms of quality, excellence in manufacturing and style, then I believe that Italian-branded shoes are already number one.”
The success of Italian shoes is linked to a tradition of craftsmanship with roots going back to the Renaissance, along with a national heritage that is rich in art and culture. Some examples of today's most prominent brands: Roberto Botticelli, founded in 1946, its inception credited to the vision of Aldo Botticelli who began producing shoes for the Italian market; 1955 saw the debut of Fratelli Rossetti which began as a small artisan workshop. 1972 marked the opening of Andrea Santoni's vocation, the brand that carries his name, while the origins of traditional workmanship at 3A Antonini (the company that owns the Lumberjack and Alexander labels among others) trace back to 1910.
Consummate professionals and jetset travellers looking to satisfy their style and comfort needs are the lucky recipients of these masterpieces. But which markets are most highly attuned to quality and expertise? Brands such as Santoni and Baldinini have seen an important response from China and the Middle East: “Countries that love fashion,” says Baldinini CEO Gimmi Baldinini, “where the modern man has a desire to continuously develop his style.”
However, it is the United States that is most seen favouring 'Made in Italy': it is here that Fratelli Rossetti has experienced a 'rebirth.' What's for certain is that Italian manufacturers are enthusiastically reacting to this demand, never forgetting that the key to success is concentrating on absolute and superior quality.
Words from the Masters
“We launched in 1955 as a small artisan workshop. As we grew, we maintained our consistency and quality. When our father passed away, my two brothers and I took over the company, searching to preserve our mandate. Ours was and continues to be a natural evolution which is the result of hard work.” Diego Rossetti – President, Fratelli Rossetti
“The 'Made in Italy' production that utilizes specialized skills and craftsmanship is one of the 'pluses' that serves to distinguish Italian footwear from what is produced outside of our borders. In addition, there is the timeless style and taste that we have become famous for the world over.”Andrea Martini Antonini – Managing Director, 3A Antonini (Lumberjack, Alexander)
“A Roberto Botticelli product is not created to be an everyday object for mere use, but as a work of art used to communicate and excite, improving the quality of lifestyle for those who wear it. The values that shape the philosophy of the maison are craftsmanship and quality. We realize these principles is in the leather, how it is chosen, processed and treated one by one with the same passion that my father adopted at the beginning of his career.” Roberto Botticelli – President and Designer, Roberto Botticelli
“Since its birth, Santoni has made excellence its mission. The passion that my father Andrea put into the creation of a shoe has been passed down to my sister Ilenia and I as well as each individual employee. Our strength over the years has been knowing how to preserve our unique know how, even as the business grew and production increased. Handmade workmanship and fine attention to detail, combined with continued research and experimentation: these are the secrets to our success.” Giuseppe Santoni – President, Santoni Group
Roberto Botticelli Worldwide Boutique Listings
Baldinini Worldwide Boutique Listings
Fratelli Rossetti Worldwide Boutique listings
Fratelli Rossetti Women's FW 2011-12 Collection
Alexander shoes Website