MILAN — How would one mark the 10th anniversary of a highly engineered style if not with fashion’s latest tech obsession?
Footwear firm Casadei is celebrating the milestone of its signature Blade heels with the release of limited-run wearable NFTs, making its venture into Web3.
“It’s been 10 years, but the Blade looks as current as it did back then, it didn’t grow older… I still think it’s dreamy and perfect, blending aesthetics and recognizability,” said Cesare Casadei in a joint interview with her business-savvy daughter Arianna, who masterminded the NFT project.
Launching Thursday in tandem with the brand’s spring 2023 presentation in Milan, the NFTs will be available on fashion-favorite metaverse platform Decentraland, where the brand has created its own environment called Casadei 3.0 to market the 1,000 NFT shoes.
Named Project Nayom1, the initiative was a group effort for which the shoemaker partnered with Web3 firm Another-1, shoe designer Ricardo Cook, and CGI export Alessandra Vuillermin, known for the virtual android creatures under the Hardmetacore moniker.
Each customer purchasing an NFT will be offered an avatar to play in Decentraland and will be entitled to redeem a physical shoe, the IRL counterpart to the project, which will come with NFC tag embedded in the outsole.
The celebratory style is an all-white pump crafted from leather and see-though polyurethane vinyl bearing a futuristic tone-on-tone meander.
“It’s an important anniversary that we wanted to celebrate harnessing our core values of tradition and innovation,” said Arianna Casadei. “It’s about the future, the next 10 years of this footwear icon,” she added.
Developing the “It”-shoe in 2012 was no easy feat, Cesare Casadei offered.
He had the glitz of the Hollywood “It” girls in mind when developing the style and wanted “the shoe to be recognizable without any logo,” he said, putting stiletto heels back on the fashion radar at a time when platforms were all the rage.
It took almost a year for Casadei’s Blade to be industrialized, its engineering feats no less challenging than having girls embrace towering heels again. The designer and entrepreneur’s father had no trust that such a shoe, with its slightly curved steel heel, would ever come to light or be a business success.
“He told me: ‘if nobody has done it before, probably it’s because it cannot be done, and you’re not going to sell more than 30 pairs anyway’,” Casadei recalled his father saying.
After seven months of test-and-try the Blade was eventually launched, and it has since been offered in countless iterations, including patent leather, suede and silk stilettos, strappy sandals and more.
“It’s captivating, beautiful, seductive and feminine… and women have liked it season after season,” Casadei said.
The NFT project marks the luxury footwear specialist’s second initiative to celebrate the signature heel. Earlier this year, it linked with photographer Ellen Von Unwerth, with whom it had already partnered on the company’s 50th-anniversary book, for sexy, “Blade Runner”-evoking and at times kinky imagery centered on the Blade’s spring 2022 collection.
It comprised see-through vinyl boots, sandal booties with cutouts, glittery versions of the classic pump and patent leather sandals.
“The Blade continues to be a bestseller, I’d say we sold less of them when it was launched than now, it’s been a season-over-season growth ever since,” Casadei said highlighting how loyal clients are provided each season with new versions.
Arianna Casadei said the shoe has been the best performing style on the brand’s e-commerce platform which she described as “Blade-oriented.”
“It never goes out of fashion, and it caters to different generations,” she offered.