Having the opportunity to visit Artioli’s new showroom in Milan’s fashion district is a journey into the very essence of Italian luxury design and tradition. Being invited is an honor and a joy for the eyes of every business insider with some focus on shoes.
For those who are not familiar with the brand, Artioli has been the top of footwear’s hand-craftsmanship for a century. Founded by Severino Artioli, and held by his descendants Vito, Andrea, and now entering young Alberto, this is a symbol of a family business that works as the barometer for how footwear craftsmanship should be judged for all shoe makers.
Artioli is a symbol of the Italian art of fashion and shoe design that goes from generation to generation, passing the secrets of excellence to offer shoes that are distinctive, unique and for men who want to wear more than just a pair of shoes.
The side walls of the showroom are gracefully decorated with pictures of their customers, from Robert De Niro to more humorous pictures with the shape of Michael Jordan’s foot paired with a Master craftsman holding the form of that same foot on the opposite wall right on the stairs that lead to the ground floor, where sport shoes and sneakers are displayed.
Entering the main room requires a keen eye to art and history. The walls are not traditionally wrapped in carpet or paintings, and the woods that embellish it are nothing ordinary. The boiserie comes from a 1600 castle, the floor is an original parquet from the 1940s. Both combined with elegance, while chairs and tables are refined with the logo of the company. The showroom is not just personalized, it describes the care for details typical of Italian luxury excellence.
In the middle of the main room a picture of another customer with a beautiful dedication catches your eyes: “To my dear friend Vito Artioli, my gratitude for making me walk comfortably, from here to eternity. Billy Wilder, ’98”.
Displaying these pictures as you see them, is more a form of affection for the customers, rather than a showoff. You look at them with a smile, feeling like you just entered a chapter of history that embraces you with cordiality.
Andrea Artioli gently welcomed us with part of his staff and his son, a group of four hard to forget for their friendliness and liveliness, really makes you feel like part of the family. His generosity in explaining you how Artioli works are born, the story of the family and some funny episodes that are part of their background, and the enthusiasm with which he shows you even personal pictures of his journeys to customers in Florida and around the world is really one of a kind.
To be greeted so friendly by living chapters of Italian shoemaking excellence is refreshing. It tells about professionals that still work with the passion and the enthusiasm of authentic creative souls but never welcomed boldness and arrogance in their manners for being leaders in their sector.
Their shoes offer a wide range of leather products. And we do not talk about traditional leather only. For sure suede, crocodile, alligator and snake are all part of the collection. But among others we could see shark, elephant and ostrich.
With humbleness Andrea told us that the way they choose their skin is as ethical as the market allows. For the elephant skin, just to pick an example, they care to use solely a very small part of the skin that comes from elephants that have died naturally of old age.
The uniqueness in their shoes is in the way they have been able to use ancient methods enhancing them with selected technological evolution. To understand the difference between shoemaking and masterworks, let’s say that the process by which these shoes are crafted, takes over two-hundred intricate operations. A characteristic is the special lining and sole materials that are treated only with stitching, which grants to keep the foot fresh and dry.
The coloring of the shoes is also unique and wholly handmade: going from treatments to give a smokey gradient effect, to the hand-colored process directly on the leather.
By the side of their traditional and classic models, a modern collection of slippers, sneakers and sportswear contributes to embrace a larger range of customers. To see this part of the collection, we walked downstairs, where in the middle of the room an ocra leather table with the logo of the company lays in the center of a neat and light room.
New to the collection is Artioli N.1: a perfume that collects the scent of 50 Italian most traditional spices. The bottle is in refillable elegant metal, and comes with a leather bag that can be reused as e.g. port-monnaie, being the brand aware of the necessity to leave the least to waste and hence offering to the consumers a product that stays and can be reused even when the bottle is emptied of its original content.
As you might have spotted from the pictures of the main room, the collection is completed by accessories, all made in leather, that include belts, bags, luggages, jackets and gloves.
Since the 90’s Artioli is opening flagship stores around the world at accelerated speed. They are present in Europe, Russia, Asia, North America, Africa and Oceania. To check more of their products, visit artioli.com