By  on April 4, 2007

As Capezio marks 120 years in the dance market, the company wants customers to know it still guarantees its products.

"Quality has carried us throughout this entire span of time, so we've created a special quality seal you will see on all of our products and on the doors of stores that carry Capezio," said Deborah Gibbs, director of business development. "How many people can say they have been in business since 1887 and their quality is still good? We plan to make the future just as bright as the past."

In 1887, 17-year-old Italian immigrant Salvatore Capezio opened The Theatrical & Historical Shoemaker shop on Broadway at 39th Street in Manhattan, diagonally across the street from the original Metropolitan Opera House. His business began by repairing theatrical shoes for the Met, and after making an emergency pair for the tenor Jean de Reszke, he made the leap from cobbler to shoemaker.

Dancer Anna Pavlova was a fan whose endorsement the company attributes to its early success. Pavlova dressed her dance company in Capezio shoes for her first U.S. tour in 1910. Sportswear designer Claire McCardell showed the Capezio ballet shoe with her 1941 collection, prompting stores such as Lord & Taylor and Neiman Marcus to carry Capezio footwear. The brand was featured on a 1949 cover of Vogue, and in 1952, Capezio received a Coty Award.

Based in Totowa, N.J., Capezio is run by the fourth generation of Capezio's family. Shoes, wholesaling from $12 to $60, still make up about two-thirds of the $90 million firm's business.

Apparel produced under the Cap­ezio, Future Star, Front Line, Harmony and the just-launched Capezio Allegro labels wholesales for $10 to $34 and makes up about one-third of sales. While trends have become increasingly important to the dance lines over time, "basics are still the foundation of our business and black is still the most popular color," Gibbs said.

With a dozen stores nationwide, Capezio is opening its first outlet at 1776 Broadway in Manhattan and might open another full-price store this year.

"We don't want to skip a generation," Gibbs said. "We still want every little girl to have worn a pair of Capezio shoes."

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