SAN MAURO PASCOLI, Italy — Casadei is marking its 60th anniversary this year with the launch of a capsule collection to be unveiled this week at a selection of the brand’s flagships.
The capsule revolves around a single style, a vinyl slingback, trimmed with suede or metallic leather, featuring a new version of the brand’s signature Blade heel, which creative director Cesare Casadei first designed in 2010 and after a series of tests and prototypes finally went into production the following year.
“This is a pretty, feminine shoe which is extremely easy to wear,” said Casadei, who was inspired by Andy Warhol’s creative Factory in the selection of the materials and the colors, including bright tones of red, yellow, hot pink and blue, as well as metallic shades of gold and silver. “I think this style perfectly embodies the essence of our brand, which perfectly combines artisanal craftsmanship and technology.”
Named creative director in 1994, Casadei is the son of Quinto and Flora Casadei, who founded the company in 1958.
Their story mirrors that of the birth and development of the San Mauro Pascoli footwear district, which was originally created by local artisans who started producing sandals for the tourists visiting the Adriatic Riviera of the Emilia-Romagna region during the summer.
“Since a big part of the tourists here were from Germany and Northern Europe, the local artisans, including my parents, realized it was time to offer them high-quality and pretty shoes to wear in their cooler countries,” said Casadei. “There were no suppliers here, [the artisans] had to travel across the country to find what they needed but their strength made it possible to create this great district, which is now focused on high-end women’s shoes.”
Spread over a few kilometers, the San Mauro Pascoli district houses some of Italy’s best-known footwear brands, including Casadei as well as Sergio Rossi, Giuseppe Zanotti, Pollini and Baldinini.
In keeping with his father Quinto’s motto “a beautiful but uncomfortable shoe is not a shoe,” since the Nineties, Casadei has been focused on offering eye-catching footwear that helps women look great and feel confident at the same time.
“I think that nowadays women have definitely an active, dynamic role within society and in every occasion they want to be able to express their personality,” said Casadei, who likes to play with embellishments, such as the colorful stones of the Bisanzio chunky heel or the metallic chains wrapping around the brand’s urban boots, to add a twist to wearable styles infused with contemporary sophistication. “What makes me happy is to combine aesthetic, innovation and the technology at our disposal to create something that looks totally impossible to do.”
While in the past the creation of the collections was more emotional than rational, Casadei highlighted that since his daughter Arianna joined the company with marketing and digital responsibilities, the whole process, even if creativity remains a pillar, is now more focused and results-driven.
“The expansion of the e-commerce is now one of our biggest goals,” said Arianna Casadei, who highlighted that the Blade style is the bestseller online. “We are starting to see results and the sell-through of the fall 2017 collection was 33 percent up compared to the same season last year.”
Among Arianna Casadei’s goals is the creation of a digital archive collecting the 20,000 pairs of shoes, which are currently stored in a room inside the company’s headquarters.
Employing 200 people, Casadei produces in-house about 1,000 styles a year and about 800 pairs of shoes every day.
The company, which in 2017 posted revenues of 33.5 million euros and expects to close 2018 up 8 percent compared to the previous year, is about to inaugurate stores in Doha, Dubai and Moscow, as well as three new boutiques in China by the fall. These add to the pre-existing network of 25 units located across Europe and Asia.
The United States is a target market for Casadei, which has started collaborating with local distributor Peter Marcus Group to increase the brand’s presence in the market. The company is also making a comeback at Bergdorf Goodman and Bloomingdale’s with the fall collection.
Asked about the possibility of seeking potential investors, Casadei said that “we keep receiving interesting offers but right now we don’t want to sell. At the same time, we evaluate all these offers and, if one day we will decide to find a partner to further boost our business, the first condition will be that it strongly believes in our core values.”