Top Ten Italian Shoemakers

Italians have actually originated classic designs from wedges to loafers, and they continue to do so, leaving their mark on the world’s catwalks and walkways. Carol King chooses 10 of Italy’s premier shoe designers.

Alberto Fermani

Based in Petriolo in Marche, the firm grew out of a small workshop where Alberto made shoes by hand. The business still makes hand-finished footwear with a focus on traditional designs, casual designs, natural leathers and comfort.

Bruno Magli

Bruno Magli outgrew the efforts of 2 brothers, Marino and Bruno, and their sister Maria. The siblings found out ways to make shoes from their cobbler dad before setting up a workshop in the basement of the family home in Bologna. They established their first factory in 1936 and the business actually took off after World War II, when they opened their first store. In the 1960s, the Magli moccasin became fashionable and celebs consisting of actress Sophia Loren and socialite Christina Onassis wore Bruno Magli shoes. Russian designer Max Kibardin took over as innovative director in 2011. Today, Swiss asset manager Da Vinci Invest owns the business that specialises in high-end shoes, clothing and accessories. The emphasis remains on workmanship some 30 people touch each handmade shoe throughout the course of its manufacture. Bruno has made the best work boots for men so far.

Elsa Schiaparelli

Understood for her extravagant Surrealist designs, Elsa Schiaparelli famously created a high-heeled shoe hat in 1937 with the help of Spanish artist Salvador Dalí. She produced a few of the world’s most unusual shoes with legendary French designers André Perugia and Roger Vivier. The 20th century’s very first shoe designer, Perugia was born in France to Italian parents. He and Schiaparelli produced a pair of high-heeled suede ankle boots for her Circus collection in 1938 that have actually gone down in footwear history. The boots have long, monkey fur trims that waterfall over the ankles and touch the ground, in homage to French artist René Magritte’s 1935 painting ‘Love Disarmed’, which reveals blonde hair outgrowing a pair of black lace ups.


Mario Moretti Polegato started Geox in 1995. Ever since, the brand has ended up being Italy’s biggest shoemaker and among the world’s leading brands. The trick of Geox’s success is the perforated rubber sole Polegato created after he opted for a walk in a desert wearing tennis shoes. His feet began to sweat, so he cut 2 holes on the sides of the soles of his shoes to ventilate them. Later, Polegato looked into the problem and integrated a waterproof membrane into a rubber sole. He patented his development and offered it to numerous business. When they showed no interest, Polegato set up Geox. Today, the business specializes in producing footwear that reflects the most recent fashion patterns and uses innovative innovation on a good work boots.

Giuseppe Zanotti

Giuseppe Zanotti’s funky designs have made him the shoemaker of choice for rock stars like Lady Gaga. He was born in the town of San Mauro Pascoli near Rimini, which has a custom of shoe production. He worked as a DJ in the 1980s prior to turning to shoe design, very first working with regional craftsmen and after that freelancing for fashion homes consisting of Valentino and Roberto Cavalli. In 1994, Zanotti acquired the Vicini shoe factory and went on to introduce his very first collection. His love of music is evident in his progressive designs influenced by glam rock glitter and punk rock zips. He specialises in embroidered and jewelled shoes whether for wayward high-top tennis shoes or soaring pumps.


Fashion home Gucci grew out of a travel luggage business started by Guccio Gucci in Florence in 1921. A lot of Gucci’s upmarket customers were horse lovers, leading the business to include a horsebit icon into its designs, most famously in the Gucci loafer that debuted in 1953. Adopted by Tinseltown’s finest, the loafer soon ended up being the jetsetters’ trademark. American designer Tom Ford took over as creative director in the 1990s and revamped the company’s image with gravity-defying metallic stilettos. Today, Italian designer Frida Giannini has actually moved Gucci into the 21st century by introducing eco-friendly lines, consisting of naturally degradable ballerinas made from plastic.


Understood for its superb leather workmanship, Prada’s association with footwear came in 1983 came after head of design Miuccia Prada extended the item variety to consist of footwear. Ever since, Miuccia has shown a talent for experimentation, producing shoes, boots and sandals in plastic and nylon as well as leather, and drawing on impacts consisting of Italian movies, architecture and Japonisme. The Prada group also includes other brands consisting of Miu and English shoe company Church’s.

Salvatore Ferragamo

He continued to be so all his life, creating shoes for huge names like Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe. He was enthusiastic about foot, studying anatomy to ensure he could develop the best-fitting shoes and the most ingenious designs. Even shortages of raw materials failed to dampen his interest: such was his talent that when he could not get his hands on leather he turned to raffia, wool and felt to make shoes, famously implementing Sardinian cork to create the very first wedge in 1937.

Sergio Rossi

The brand originated with cobbler’s kid Sergio Rossi in San Mauro, Pascoli in the Romagna area. At the start of the 1950s went to Milan to study where he found out the best ways to make the most of his passion for shapes and improve his abilities. When the 1960s arrived, Sergio started offering his handcrafted designs to shops in Bologna, including his popular Opanca light sandal with the sole curved around the foot. In the 1970s, Rossi began to team up with designer Gianni Versace and he later on produced shoes for the collections of other leading fashion homes consisting of Dolce & Gabbana and Azzedine Alaïa. Today, French Group Kering owns the brand.


Tod’s is the creation of entrepreneur Diego Della Valle. His father, Filippo, and grandpa, Dorino, were both cobblers and Dorino started making shoes in the early 1900s. Diego launched Tod’s, making it into a worldwide brand thanks to a mix of business savvy and marketing nouse. He notoriously persuaded the head of Fiat, Gianni Agnelli, to wear Tod’s driving moccasins to televised soccer matches. The promotion the product placement produced resulted in a spike in sales. Diego has an eye for art as much as the bottom line and got Roger Vivier’s brand after his death in order to restore it.


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