Interview with Alberto Moretti: “A Beacon of Enlightment in Shoe Design”

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Alberto Moretti, a Florentine entrepreneur, revamped “Arfango”, a well-known brand on the “Made in Italy” footwear scene, by relaunching it in 2008. His fondness for “his” shoes and his passion for his work immediately becomes apparent as he proudly describes his creative work.

Alberto grew up following in his father’s footsteps. In the late 1990s entrepreneur Antonio Moretti, from Arezzo, became a partner in Car Shoe, in which Alberto collaborated in product development. This experience and his passion led him to create his own collection. Taking inspiration from Arfango’s traditional leather loafer, Moretti revolutionized it by using silk velvet to create what is now known as the “Velvet Shoe”, a silk velvet, hand-stitched loafer available in a wide range of colours, from flame red to royal blue, from mauve to the more traditional brown, blue and black. Alongside the original brown leather loafer, entrepreneur Alberto Moretti’s creations also include a women’s line.

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How did you start your career as a designer and entrepreneur?

My family has a long tradition of manufacturing men’s footwear. As a child I often accompanied my father to artisan workshops where I could observe the craftsmen at work. Later, while in high school, I worked for my father’s business. My dream, however, was to create a beautiful shoe, which was sexy and yet elegant, a staple for every woman. In order to create high quality shoes I have conducted extensive research, visited artisan workshops in Emila Romagna and worked with artisan shoemakers. My starting point was a basic shoe style: the pump. Each pump is different, and artisans pay attention to every single detail. I have also learnt that footwear design involves an in-depth study of the anatomical shape of the foot and construction of shoes.

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The “Made in Italy” label has always been associated with high quality craftmanship. To what extent has this association contributed to your success?

 It has been crucial to guaranteeing the highest quality of our products. To this date, it has been impossible, abroad, to imitate the work of Italian craftsmen. It is part of a heritage passed down from one generation to the next, which allows us to create superior and inimitable products.

Do you think we are losing some of these values?

Absolutely not. Quite the opposite. They are becoming increasingly important and crucial for the end product. Fashion houses seem to be rediscovering craftsmanship, which, in Italy, is a synonym for wealth, fortunately. For a new designer, craftsmanship makes the difference and is, therefore, a fundamental value to preserve.

 What is your opinion of the concept of “made to measure”?

Alberto Moretti’s men’s footwear production has always been “made to measure” – our monogrammed slippers being just an example. As for women’s footwear, it is only recently that such a request has been made by female customers. However, as we are artisans and still a “small” business, we are pleased and willing to offer “made to measure”.

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What are your major target markets?

Our major target markets are currently the USA and the Middle East alongside Turkey and Europe.

What is the role played by the Italian market in your business?

Unfortunately the Italian market only plays a marginal role in our business. Potential expenditure in Italy is much lower than in other countries and the restrictions imposed to limit cash payments have led Russian and Asian tourists to opt for other destinations.

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What are your current channels of distributions?

The Alberto Moretti brand is currently sold in our mono-brand boutique in St Tropez, as well as in high-end department stores all over the world, including Barneys in New York City, Harvey Nichols and Mercury-Tsum in Moscow, Saks in Dubai and Bahrain and Fred Segal in Los Angeles.

Retail channels play an increasingly important role for luxury brands. What are your plans in this regard?

Single-brand stores, either directly operated store (DOS) or franchised, are becoming more and more important. Retail is the best way to communicate a brand identity. It provides a deeper understanding of the purchasing behaviour of consumers, thus allowing us to improve customer experience. It is therefore necessary to further develop mono-brand retail.

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How do you envisage the future of your company?

It will be characterized by constant development and evolution. I am determined to expand my business by developing new avenues for growth, with special attention to women. Shoes are becoming increasingly important in a woman’s wardrobe. We are committed to improving and innovating shoe design without revolutionizing traditional craftsmanship and procedures.

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