The daughter of creative director Cesare Casadei and the granddaughter of Quinto and Flora Casadei, who founded the company in 1958, she honed her skills in a variety of departments within the company. She also developed her experience working for other fashion brands, among them Alberta Ferretti and retailer LuisaViaRoma.
“I grew up within the company and my grandfather and father have taught me everything I know in the business,” she said, crediting their pioneering spirit. “I firmly believe in looking back to move forward, and I am so proud of this opportunity, which is still a little hard to believe,” she said with a smile, in an interview at Casadei’s offices here.
In 2012, Arianna joined Casadei’s communication and marketing department, the first to be in charge of the brand’s e-commerce platform and social media, accelerating the digitalization of the company and contributing to the development of a solid online business. E-commerce today represents 10 percent of sales, she said.
She has also been in charge of special projects and relations with wholesale clients, before being promoted in 2017 to director of communication and marketing.
The young executive touted how the company has maintained its spirit, creativity and artisanal expertise, while innovating and experimenting with new technologies.
So much so that it was she who masterminded in September a project that saw the brand release a limited run of 1,000 wearable NFTs developed with Web3 firm Another1 in the shape of a cyborg-inspired Blade shoe — Casadei’s perennial bestseller.
The NFT was available on the metaverse platform Decentraland, where the brand created its own environment called Casadei 3.0 to market the 1,000 NFT shoes.
Arianna Casadei takes on the added responsibility of heading the family-owned company as the firm celebrates its 65th anniversary. Plans to mark the milestone are in the pipeline and a goal is to consolidate the brand in its key markets, including the U.S., and the Middle and Far East.
She admitted the pandemic years prompted her to “listen to the needs of Casadei’s customers,” a moment to learn and ask herself questions about the future course of the brand.
Speaking to her family, she was told that “it is not the single person that makes the difference,” and that it is important to build a strong team “and that took a weight off my shoulders. I spend a lot of time with our human resources in the company and this has made me realize even more the importance of our skilled artisans.”
The company is based in San Mauro Pascoli, a key footwear manufacturing hub in Italy, which is also home to Sergio Rossi and Giuseppe Zanotti, among others.
Among the recent key hires is a new commercial director, Paola Rossi.
The company remains privately owned, which allows it to be flexible and have a streamlined organization so it can respond quickly to market changes, she said. “It’s an added value to work in a family company but there must be a clear structure.”
During the pandemic, Casadei partnered with The Level Group, which allowed the company to speed up its online business.
She has recently implemented the bridal offer, developed special capsules and expanded the range of shoe sizes. “Comfortable and wearable designs have increasingly become a request after the pandemic,” she said, although sexy and feminine looks remain a good portion of the production. She noted that the brand has also expanded its offer of handbags. “Several models were designed to match the shoes, we’ve seen this trend picking up,” she said.
The company has seen a 20 percent gain in sales in 2022 compared with 2021 and is aiming for revenues of 30 million euros in 2023.
The U.S. represent 25 percent of sales, and a local warehouse in the region allows Casadei to respond to the diversified requests in the area, “more pumps and decolletes in New York and more platforms in Los Angeles, for example,“ she said.
Europe accounts for 25 percent of revenues.
Globally, there are 20 stores and the brand is available at around 200 wholesale accounts. Casadei just opened at Printemps in Doha.
Touring the showroom, Casadei pointed to a lacquered Blade stiletto presented for summer, inspired by the Panton Chairs. Her father developed the Blade in 2012, which, with its slightly curved steel, has become a recognizable and signature model for the brand, and at the time he put stiletto heels back in fashion, as platforms were more successful then.
The Blade has been offered in many iterations including patent leather, suede and silk stilettos and strappy sandals, to name a few.
“It never goes out of fashion, and it caters to different generations,” said the young executive.