The awaken of classic shoes the challenges in conducting a generational change: “How long will this last for?”. That’s the question asked by Fabio Ortigni, who, together with his brother Stefano and sister Barbara, manages Sutorios in Lamporecchio (Pistoia), a company that manufactures shoes under the brand Ortigni, founded in 1930 by the grandfather Paolo. From 1955 to 1991, the footwear manufacturer was guided by Allegro, son of Paolo and father to 3 children. Then there is the current generation: the third one. Today the company employs 12 people and continues to make quality men’s shoes using exotic leather such as crocodile, breed, iguana and ostrich. A niche point of view, but a vision to be discovered: here is our interview with Fabio Ortigni (in photo), who we interviewed during the last edition of Pitti Immagine Uomo.
The awaken of classic shoes
How does a small artisanal company such as yours survive in a marketplace that mostly rewards larger companies?
History, name, credibility, quality. We specialized on a product that doesn’t follow fashion trends and changes little from season to season.
So, what changes is the context in which you operate?
Surly. It has changed a lot over the last few years, with customers asking for delivery dates closer and closer the date of the order. They want extremely quick delivery times for a hand-made product. Moreover, we must deal with the situation with a lot of attention, as the situation with raw materials doesn’t allow for punctual deliveries of the latter.
How has the market changed with the pandemic?
After two years of our clients remaining home, we are now seeing an awakening of classic shoes for men. This is obviously helping us.
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How is your business going?
We have recovered and surpassed the performance of 2019. Our revenue is equally balanced between Italy and foreign markets. The latter are supported by orders made by a large Dutch client.
So, your forecasts are positive?
Yes, in theory, but I do ask myself whether the demand for more classic products is a passing trend or if it will last, and for how long.
Artisanal company, manual work: are you able to find young workers for the current generational change?
It’s not at all easy. The craftsmanship that we have inside our laboratory dictates a certain artisanal experience for people to continue working. There are some of our employees that are getting older, and we are thinking of how to substitute them when they will wish to retire: but we struggle to attract younger crowds.
Ortigni has the well-known ex-footballer Giancarlo Antognoni as testimonial: how come?
We collaborated with him for the first time a few years ago and have maintained the relationship. He comes to visit us at the company and when Pitti takes place he supports us.