Totaling 14,850 pieces, the Santoni footwear archive can be compared to a wine collector’s cellar. “Our shoes are similar to good wines in a certain way: The older they are, the better they become,” said CEO Giuseppe Santoni.


Here the executive shares a few details about his family’s historic archive collection:


Which piece is the oldest?


“It is a lace-up shoe completely made and colored by hand. It was a real masterpiece: the stitching was made using the complex ‘Bentivegna’ construction, and also the particular decoration on the toe was obtained by using an under-the-skin stitching. It was part of the fall ’77 collection.”


What is the most valuable piece?


“A polo boot completely made by alligator leather, colored by hand in the shades of cognac. It was knee-high, with a big double buckle gaiter. [For the fall ’15] season we decided to re-style this iconic boot and included it in the collection as an epitome of our craftsmanship and heritage.”


Which is your favorite piece?


“My favorite is a shoe from our 2006 Limited Edition collection. At that time, we created some styles that represented our highest mastery in making shoes by hand, each of them named after some renowned Italian wines. That shoe was a 3-holes elegant model, painted by hand in the shades of warm gray with an artistic kind of velatura called Renoir. It was entirely hand-sewn with details obtained with under-the-skin stitching and it required 25 days of production. It was called Setino, the name of an ancient and renowned Italian wine produced in the area of Rome since the age of the Romans.


How does the archive influence your modern collections?


“Sometimes we decide to re-style some of our archive pieces, especially when our seasonal collection is inspired by a certain historical period, such as the 1970s or the ’80s, for instance. It happens also that we use some shoes from the archive for exhibitions or celebrations.


Do outsiders utilize the archive?


“Last year the Italian Cologni Foundation for the Métiers d’Art decided to develop the book ‘Makers of Beauty: Philosophy of the male footwear according to Santoni,’ a tribute to our heritage but also an interesting excursus on the history of male footwear. On that occasion we explored our archive together with the foundation and the author of the book, and it was a real journey through the history of the craft and the design of luxury men’s footwear.”


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