The first production unit owned by Manolo Blahnik is Italian. It’s Re Marcello shoe factory in Vigevano (Pavia), the designer’s historical production partner, led by Bruno Re and Giuseppina Galazzi. The shoe factory produces women’s luxury shoes for different brands (including Christian Louboutin). Now, progressively, it could focus his activity on Blahnik models. A production increase that could affect other Italian companies producing for the same brand.
Bruno Re, how did this agreement come about?
I made the decision to sell by looking at my identity card: I am 73 years old and my children are doing something else. A year ago I decided to start looking around to try to give continuity to the company and the employees. This vision was shared by the Blahnik family, who immediately became interested in our company. We started talking about it, since on their side, too, there was interest in having a production unit owned by themselves.
You produce for other brands: now what?
Until a few days ago, yes. I believe that now the commercial strategy will have to be reviewed, but these decisions belong to the new ownership.
Have you maintained a minority stake?
No: no shares.
What is your future?
I am on the Board and, for a certain period, I will deal with the transition phase. I will help the new ownership with my expertise.
How long has your company been working for brands?
The shoe factory was founded in 1938. Until the first half of the 1980s, we worked with our own brand for both domestic market and export. Then came the crisis. At that point, I changed my strategy. I noticed that the market was changing, too: strong brands were emerging, with more powerful and organised structures. A painful but mandatory decision was the one that led to the collaboration with more structured brands.
How much did it take to lead the company towards this new direction?
A couple of years. They were the most difficult. On the one hand, the production for our own brand was decreasing. On the other hand, that contract hadn’t take off yet. The first customers were US brands. Then we turned more and more to luxury. And so the collaboration with Blahnik was born, which over time has proved fruitful and lasting.
How did you attract luxury brands?
With the quality of our production. It was the winning card, even with Blahnik.
In the picture: on the right, Bruno Re and Giuseppina Galazzi; on the left, a working phase by Re Marcello (archive photo / La Conceria)