A hand-painted sneaker made by artists that graduated from Venice’s arts and restorations schools and institutes in Riviera del Brenta. What makes NiRa Rubens, footwear manufacturer distributed by Panta Rei (Noventa Padovana) unique, is the decorative note. The project began in 2016, thanks to the passion of Ramon Gobbo (manager with experience in the footwear and clothing segment) and Nicoletta Giacon. The name of the brand is in fact the union of the couple’s names, but it celebrates Rubens, famous Flemish painter. Here is our interview with Nicoletta Giacon.
What’s your current situation for this period?
We are growing. During the pandemic we didn’t stop, mostly thanks to the e-commerce channel that we launched two years ago and that now accounts for 15% of our revenue.
So, the hand-painted sneaker idea is working…
We are small and thus flexible, but we aim at becoming iconic and we set ourselves apart because we also paint the bottom of the shoe, guaranteeing it’s hand-made. We like art and have found a way to apply it to shoes. There are 7 women in our company that paint all sneakers we make by hand, thus ensuring that every pair is unique. Uniqueness and originality, guaranteed from EUIPO. With the same technique, we also offer handbags, to complete our offering.
How are you distributed?
We are in about 200 retail locations. Export accounts for about 15% of our revenue, and the main markets are Russia, Belgium, Germany and the USA.
No own store?
Not for now. We will see…
Where does the production process take place?
We make between 40,000 and 50,000 pairs of shoes every year, half in Portugal and half in Italy. Leather, on the other hand, is all Italian.
You hire many women, right?
Yes, we are 15 in total and there are only two men.
Interacting with leather
Does substituting one of the artists represent a problem?
Not for now. Our collaborators are young and passionate. Some are restorers, others decorators that graduated from Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice. I have to admit that one artist takes between 1 and 3 years, before she is ready to station all steps. There are some decorations that are less complicated and thus require less skills, while others need more experience and talent.
You refer to leather as “you”…
Many companies use leather: we interact with it.
Images from nirarubens.com