MILAN — According to Gianni Giannini, chief executive officer and creative director of Italian high-end footwear brand Doucal’s, the ideal shoe cabinet of an elegant man doesn’t require too many styles. “I think five designs are enough to be well covered,” Giannini said.
Starting from this point of view, Giannini decided to take a step back from the fast-paced rhythms of the fashion industry, developing for Doucal’s the concept of the “Ideal Shoe Cabinet.”
“We have an almost 50-year experience of the fashion industry, especially because for decades we collaborated with prestigious luxury brands producing their collections,” Giannini said. “But for Doucal’s, we thought it was the time to slow down and just focus on what is key for us: delivering high-end, durable shoes for very refined consumers.”
Instead of launching dozens of new styles every season, Doucal’s is now putting the focus on key items that men can wear in different moments of their everyday life. They span from more formal double-monk straps and tasseled loafers to derbies and clean-shaped sneakers for more casualwear.
“We want to deliver a clear, authentic message,” said Giannini, adding that the brand targets consumers of different ages.
Even if this focused vision on few key products is easier to adopt in the men’s segment, Doucal’s is expanding in the women’s footwear sector with the same mentality. “We will never do bejeweled heels,” he said. “We offer women’s styles that reflect our DNA.”
According to Giannini, while men’s shoes still account for 85 percent of the company’s sales, the women’s business is growing.
The brand, which is present in more than 800 stores globally, generates 40 percent of its revenues in Italy. “But we are significantly growing in countries like Germany, France, Belgium, Holland and Russia,” said Giannini, adding that the brand has more potential to grow in “mature markets,” rather than in Asia. “There, consumers are still very attracted by major labels and logos. When they will focus more on the authentic quality of the things they buy, as well as on a certain refined, sober style, they will start looking for us.”
The executive revealed that the company in 2021 recovered from the losses of 2020. “It was a tough year, but the company reacted strongly,” Giannini said. “We demonstrated great loyalty and stability and this is paying off.” While a tiny increase compared to 2019 is expected this year, Doucal’s forecasts that 2022 “will be wonderful,” as Giannini said.
The company, which operates two flagships, in Milan and Paris, doesn’t plan to expand its retail network with new freestanding stores, but the opening of a range of corners in key department stores is in the pipeline. During the pandemic, Doucal’s also opened its online store. “But we adopted a strategy that allows us to avoid competition with our wholesale partners,” said Giannini, adding that prices are higher on the brand’s e-commerce, which also doesn’t offer special promotions or discounts.