PARIS – Ludovic de Saint Sernin and the shoe maverick Alfredo Piferi came together around a common vision of inclusiveness in fashion.
Jimmy Choo veteran Piferi himself often wears his stilettos to test their comfort; makes it a point of honor to offer its complete collections in a wider range of sizes and integrates different shades of nude in all of its offer.
Today, he’s teaming up with de Saint Sernin – whose ready-to-wear collections challenged gender stereotypes from the start – on a gender-neutral shoe capsule, unveiled during the young designers’ show. in vogue during Paris Fashion Week.
“A lot of people tried to do what he did, but it never felt so precise and believable. That’s what caught my eye, and the brand’s sensuality really matched the essentials of my. own brand, ”said Piferi, who worked with de Saint Sernin to create a range of stylish flat sandals and sexy lace-up kitten heels.
The shoes have been made from an elastic natural rubber material that can easily accommodate wider feet and are available in white, silver and a range of nude shades.
“I sent Ludovic a doodle that I did on the plane as a starting point but he loved it, so in the end it was the finish line. I’ve managed collaborations like Versace for H&M or Off-White for Jimmy Choo which are usually extremely painful from all the back and forth, so it was very organic and straightforward, ”said Piferi.
The shoes will be sold on both brands’ websites and shared wholesale partners for spring 2022, marking de Saint Sernin’s first foray into footwear. It will also be Piferi’s first collaboration since leaving Choo and launching his eponymous label in 2019.
Most of the new label’s life has been spent amid the pandemic, but Piferi said he still managed to grow his business by 130% during the lockdown, recruiting wholesale partners like Harrods, Browns , On Pedder, Level Shoes and Neiman Marcus.
Part of its success lies in its responsible philosophy: the shoes are made from vegan materials including organic leather made from corn oil, the heels are made from recycled materials and the collections focus on styles of base without season.
“I’m sure a big percentage of our success was the responsible and vegan aspect: people were ready and they were looking for it. If this was another brand of leather footwear, I probably would have gone further, but not that much or that fast. At the end of the day, we all love a good story and it’s an authentic story that comes from my heart and really wanting to change the perspective of the market, ”said the designer, adding that it is a story. about responsibility, not sustainability.
“Sustainability is a dangerous word and a very big word. A hospital is sustainable because we need it, but realistically no one needs another brand of footwear – by the time you launch a brand you are not sustainable, you may just be responsible for your choices, ”he added.
There were many challenges to being responsible in the luxury footwear industry, including convincing an 80-year-old Italian manufacturer to completely rethink their methods and invest in new machines that work with biomaterials.
As eco-friendly materials like mushroom leather become more and more popular, young brands like Piferi now face intense competition from conglomerates. In terms of mushroom leather, for example, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Hermès have bought all of the manufacturers’ production, according to the designer.
Piferi, like de Saint Sernin, is also keen to spread a message of inclusion through his work. This means not defining the woman who wears her shoes and giving her as many options as possible, removable metallic socks or crystal clips that allow her to dress her shoes up or down, to ranges of. wider sizes and walkable heels that are no longer than four inches.
“This is the contemporary attitude to have towards customers. I used to find it frustrating that there wasn’t enough message of inclusiveness in the industry and most brands define their customers so precisely that they exclude anyone who doesn’t fit the bill. dream, ”he said. “For me, the Piferi woman is the one who walks into the store and buys the shoes.”
In the same vein, Piferi also makes it a point of honor to offer a wider range of shoes – from evening pumps to ballet flats, ankle boots with small heels and sandals – for the women of your choice, entry prices of luxury range which is at least between 150 and 200 euros. inferior to the competition and without trend that customers can hang on to for years.
“My concept is that there shouldn’t be any trends or seasonality. Trends today, you can’t even explain what they are. As soon as I’m a big company, have the money, and give the same pair of shoes to 50 influencers, I set a trend. It’s not like the 80s when people admired fashion and designers created trends that people could absorb. Today, it is the street that demands and creates trends in a very mechanical way.