Bruno Magli’s wool suit and shoes. Design Evolution

In 1936, when Bologna-based siblings Bruno, Marino and Maria Magli started their industrial venture in the footwear industry, they had one aim in mind — manufacturing high-end, sophisticated shoes using artisanal techniques.

Once past the dark period of World War II, in the Fifties and Sixties the Maglis managed to achieve this goal and they started building an international reputation for the Bruno Magli brand. To fit the needs of that era’s women, who wanted a more modern and feminine image, the brand developed some styles that revolutionized footwear: the pump, the stiletto and the pointed-toe shoe. At the end of the Sixties, the brand also introduced boots, cut long and crafted from an elastic material to resemble stockings.

In the Nineties, a range of shoe designers, including Andrea Pfister, Diego Dolcini, Bruno Frisoni and Ernesto Esposito, followed one another at the brand’s creative helm.  They continued to advance the image of the brand, rooted in an elegant, sober aesthetic for discreet femininity.

In 2001, Luxembourg-based investment fund Opera acquired a majority stake from the Magli family, and a new creative team, which included Irish designer Sharon Wauchob, came on board. Under the commercial direction of Alexander Zschokke, in 2003 Bruno Magli introduced a full handbag collection featuring the “Ring Bag,” a style in calf, crocodile or python skin featuring leather strips encircling it; a limited-edition shoe range of four colorful pumps designed by Italian artist Davide Pizzigoni, as well as a ready-to-wear capsule, including a biker jacket, available in napa leather and python skin, and a suede duster coat with hand-pleated cuffs.

The 2007 acquisition of Bruno Magli by British investment fund Fortelus Capital resulted in a more up-to-date approach focused not only on products, but also on marketing strategies.

To boost and refresh the image of the brand, which was positioned in the affordable luxury segment, Bruno Magli tapped footwear designer Max Kibardin as its creative director. Kibardin offered elegant, sophisticated footwear and bag collections, defined by simple, clean silhouettes, bold tones and upscale materials. The sexier impulse he injected in the lineup also echoed in his leather-centered ready-to-wear capsules, which included chic shrunken bombers, full skirts and peasant dresses.

In December 2012, Kibardin collaborated with jewelry designer Mawi Keivom on a pre-fall capsule collection featuring two styles of $1,100 crystal and hardware-laden pumps, as well as a clutch for $1,875.

In January 2015, with the company’s acquisition by Marquee Brands, the brand again charted a new course. Its collections are now developed by LJP International, Marquee’s New Jersey-based sourcing, distribution and licensing partner. A design team, organized in groups taking care of the different divisions, has been tapped to revamp the image.

“Today, Bruno Magli’s heritage continues to evolve by reinventing luxury essentials for a new generation,” said Mia Rothstein, Magli’s senior vice president of brand management. “Since its inception, Magli has created refined, handcrafted footwear. The brand continues to be committed to maintaining Italian design and production, while building a global luxury lifestyle brand rooted in rich Italian heritage and classic style.”

The women’s line, which will be relaunched for fall, will offer a contemporary take on Bruno Magli’s signature styles, such as hardware-embellished leather shoes, suede and patent leather pumps, flats and boots.

“The brand has such an incredible heritage,” said Rothstein. “We must look into the archives and reconnect with the great past of the label. We have to build on what we are and make it better.”

Among the key women’s styles to be sold this fall, Rothstein cited Emma, a flat embellished with a geometric gold buckle, and Lucy, a shoe designed in collaboration with the brand’s face Lucy Liu. The Papillon decor and Bruno Magli’s iconic M-shaped toe will also be pivotal.

Women’s footwear will retail from $375 to $1,050, while men’s shoes range from $350 to $500. Last year, the brand also introduced a higher-end men’s higher footwear line, called Collezione, retailing from $550 to $725.

The women’s range will be also be expanded with the addition of handbags, launching for holiday, while men’s footwear will coordinate with a tailored collection produced under license by Marcraft Apparel Group and will feature suits, shirts and ties. In March, Bruno Magli will introduce men’s and women’s timepieces during the Baselworld trade show in Basel, Switzerland.

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