Santoni, almost 50 years old, has earned a place among Italian artisanal luxury footwear brands. Now, the family business is betting on a serious handbag division with the introduction of The Pluto style. CEO Giuseppe Santoni, who grew up in the business his parents founded in his garage in 1975, when he was seven, celebrated the new bag in the heart of New York, where the Santoni brand found its success for first time.
Speaking to FashionNetwork.com during a lavish Italian dinner at Arva (chosen because Santoni knew the chef and his kitchen) atop the relatively new Aman Hotel on 57th Street, the CEO explained the importance of the Big Apple to the brand and the recent launch of a new bag.
“When we launched our brand of high-quality leather shoes, they were too expensive for Italian customers, although we were less than the big names,” Santoni said over a plate of lobster rigatoni, presumably referring to some of the more expensive leather shoes. acquaintances. product brands of the time, Ferragamo and Gucci. He also noted that it had been exactly 40 years since he first arrived in New York and the United States when, with his father, they sold shoes from suitcases in hotel rooms.
The US market was firm until the economic fallout from the Gulf War, which drove down oil market prices. This time, Santoni set his sights on Asia, stopping in Japan, Taiwan, Korea and Shenzhen, among other places.
“Visited [Asia] for three weeks, but it took three years to establish sales relationships. They want to know if you are serious and can deliver the goods. I was young but a shoe expert and very passionate about the business. It could explain a lot of things about the quality of the footwear, etc.,” he continued. At the time, he noted that only Japan was “a mature market” at the time.
Over time, the New York market recovered and also became the largest in terms of retail trade. Opened its first location in Upper Madison in 70th Street in 1997 and moved to its current location at 625 Madison in 58th Street approximately seven years ago. Santoni has more retail plans in Las Vegas and Beverly Hills. It also hinted at other distribution opportunities in the US market, especially for its women’s offering. Therefore, the timing for the new bag is perfect.
With its modern, asymmetrical shape, handcrafted on a wooden frame, the Pluto bag exudes a luxurious vibe, befitting its $2,650.00 price tag. “It’s really modern and comfortable for a modern woman and it looks beautiful, but this bag is very technical. Its practical functionality is also important,” she said, adding: “The size is well thought out; it fits you. There is a lot inside, but it is not too big, and the straps adjust for a shoulder strap or a short handle.”
In fact, model Martha Hunt and super stylist Kate Young made it look extremely modern as they rocked them flanking Santoni on either side.
The names reflect Santoni’s humorous side. “The flap design is taken from the men’s double strap brogue design, which resembles two ears like Pluto, the Disney character. I’m an ironic person, and Pluto was funny,” said the CEO, adding that the bag will have more development. which will retain the flap but the shape will evolve. “The goal is to expand the bag business.”
The New York event introduced a new aqua color.
The executive began working at the company at the age of 14, learning to make shoes, a task he continued doing until he was named CEO.
“My father was my hero; I always dreamed of making shoes, doing this job,” he recalled. Santoni said he gave up typical teenage hobbies, such as sports, to spend time at the factory.
According to the second-generation shoemaker, Santoni’s artisanal focus has always been on comfort; everything is in the arch. And the last construction.
“Imagine that you are making a size 10 men’s shoe last, but there are a billion people in the world with this size, but their feet are a different shape,” he said.
The company, based in Corridonia in the Marche region near Italy’s Adriatic coast, had about 15 employees when he took over and now employs 700 of the city’s 8,000 residents. A luxury that few companies can attest to in today’s hyper-globalization environment, and that does not go unnoticed by the young Santoni.
“I consider myself lucky. Luxury is something that everyone talks about, but very few are, but it is what the consumer is looking for. Wearing our shoes and the new Pluto Bag makes you feel good. We make luxury above fashion. We want it to be timeless and represent quality.”
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