How has the brand changed since it was founded in 1958?
My parents founded the company in 1958 in San Mauro Pascoli, where they created the first collection of sandals designed for tourists holidaying on the Italian Riviera. They started to export early on to the US and Germany and it quickly expanded from there. I entered the company in 1994 as creative director, after years of managing and experimenting with my own line, YDW. My goal was to merge the pioneers of Made in Italy craftsmanship and, promote the image of the brand on an international level.
How important is the Made in Italy benchmark of quality to the brand today?
Our history is strongly entwined with our heritage. For our company, Made in Italy means quality, innovation, research, design, craftsmanship and so much more. Casadei’s roots were consolidated in high-class artisanal tradition: skins, colours and styles were created on an exclusive basis using dedicated suppliers.
What sets Casadei apart from other Italian footwear brands?
Casadei’s creations have always been part of our family – of our story. To me Casadei has two souls: one lies underneath the shoes, one is the heart we pour into making them. This bond and deep connection is what has made our shoes special through the decades and the fashion trends.
How would you describe the Casadei woman?
Cosmopolitan. Versatile. Ageless. The Casadei woman transcends traditional categories, experimenting with a compelling style vocabulary for a free-spirited, personal and contemporary approach.
Where do you find inspiration for your new designs each season?
‘I find that I’m a person that can take on the guises of different people that I meet. I can switch accents in seconds of meeting somebody – I can adopt their accent. I’ve always found that I collect. I’m a collector. And I’ve always just seemed to collect personalities, ideas. I have a hotchpotch philosophy which really is very minimal.’ I personally think that this quote from David Bowie summarises my approach to life and, therefore, to my work. My inspiration could easily come from watching the world that surrounds me – the one I live every day and that I personally experience.
Which shoe are you most excited about for spring/summer 2019?
It’s very hard to pick but I would say the Futura style. Inspired by the frisky, experimental attitude of the 60s, with its desire to reach new heights, the Futura embodies their positive vibe.
How do you decide on the name of each shoe?
I name every style after the vibe, the inspiration, the idea, the link that shoe automatically pops into my mind. It’s the fluid association of my creative process expressed in words.
Why do you think the Blade heel has become so iconic?
The Blade embodies the perfect balance between femininity and design. I think that its global success is due to its highly recognisable heel, which is like a trademark. What I love about the Blade is that women from across the world can style it according to their personalities, yet you can tell from afar who designed that shoe. It’s a style that fits each personality, that breaks the traditional boundaries among different cultures, political groups, genders, people of different ages and with different occupations.
How important is the physical retail space in Milan?
Milano is the current fashion capital, as Florence used to be when my parents opened our first boutique there in 1980. Cosmopolitan, it incorporates luxury, art, business, gastronomy and culture – it’s the perfect place for fashionistas and industry enthusiasts.
What does the future hold for Casadei?
With 25 flagship stores, Casadei is expanding the business in China. We have recently opened in Doha as well as a corner at Rinascente Turin. In 2015 the brand unveiled its new store concept in Rome and then in Milan, followed by the 120-square-metre boutique in the exclusive Albemarle Street, in Mayfair, London. Casadei is currently working on a global strategy to reinforce its retail and communications visibility worldwide.
Casadei, Via Sant’Andrea 1, 20121 Milan, +39 02 7631 8293