All fashionistas know the Italian high end brand Salvatore Ferragamo but the story of the founder and master of shoes’ craftsmanship escapes to many. His path and the creation of his namesake fashion house makes Ferragamo’s history worth to know.
Who was Salvatore Ferragamo?
Born on June 5, 1898 in the small village of Bonito, Naples, Salvatore Ferragamo had his first experience as a shoemaker by the age of 9, when he decided to make his sister’s First Communion shoes because their mother could not afford new ones.
That was followed by some years in Naples to master the art of shoemaking.
In 1914, Salvatore travelled to the Boston to meet one of his brothers, where he worked in a boot factory and improved his technique.
In 1923 established his own shop in California, the Hollywood Boot Shop, where he would become the Shoemaker to the stars. Working for film wardrobe productions and given the his shoes, Salvatore would quickly become shoemaker to actresses and actors outside movies.
In 1927 moved back to Italy, this time Florence, founding his namesake company with headquarters at the Palazzo Spini Feroni.
The first stores opened later in Florence, Rome and London in 1938. Ten years later came the store in New York.
During WWII, under fascism, the use of new materials was diffused by nationalist propaganda and after by the sanctions imposed to Italy. Leather could only be used for military purposes. Facing this and the lack of resources, Ferragamo created what we call today “sustainable shoes” by experimenting materials as cork, rafia, paper, cellophane and fish skin. He continued to do so after the war and in 1950 was already using nylon.
The designer was awarded the Neiman Marcus award in 1947 for the creation of the “invisible sandal”.
Amongst his list of usual clients were the names of Joan Crawford, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Eva Peron and the Duke of Windsor.
Unfortunately Ferragamo passed away too soon, in 1960, 62 years old. His wife and children kept following his legacy and continued to build the powerful fashion house it is today.
Ferragamo was focused in being the best luxury shoemaker. Therefore, women’s ready to wear and menswear collections only started to be produced, after the designer’s death, respectively in 1965 and 1970.
Today there is the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum in Florence where you can check some pieces produced by the shoemaker. The Fashion Quartier was there and you can check some below.