Another unexpected journey my shoes took me on, was to the town of Vigevano – a stunning historical and architectural town outside of Milan. In the town center is the Museo internazionale della calzatura – the International footwear museum.
Vigevano has been the shoe capital of Italy for almost 150 years, and my factory's owner inherited the factory from his father, who opened the factory 70 years ago. Everybody in the factory is a craftsman more than a factory worker. Their processes are surprisingly handmade, as opposed to the less sensitive machines that are popular elsewhere. The Rifilacode has been trimming shoes by hand for years. The Orlatrice cuts, folds, and sew our intricate folds by hand with speed, precision, and grace.
Maybe not surprisingly, the workers are happy. They practice their passion and craft every day. And they feel a sense of pride for their precision and artistry.
Italian factories favor quality over quantity. They are engaged and invested in the success of the shoes they make. Because of this, being able to have your shoes made there is a testimony of design. So it's lovely to be able to put that stamp on Chris Donovan shoes. But after my experience in Vigevano, I am delighted to say that Chris Donovan shoes are pieces of art. They are made with passion and pride by artisans who have shoemaking in their blood, who have breathed life, beauty, and artistry into the objects you hold in your hands.
Established luxury footwear factories don't usually work with new designers. And if I haven't met Richard and Shao-wei from Arise.S Consultancy, these shoes would not be the pieces of art they are today. I owe them a huge debt of gratitude.
Richard and Shao-wei, thank you for your expertise, passion, and patience.