INTRODUCING: LUISA TRATZI
Turin-born footwear designer Luisa Tratzi graduated from the New Academy of Fine Arts in Milan and took her first steps in the fashion industry in 2011, cutting her teeth in the field of womenswear and beachwear. Her namesake label launched in 2013, and, shortly after that, it was selected as one of the most creative brands internationally by the National Chamber of Italian Fashion, acknowledgement that offered the designer the chance to present her first collection during Milan Fashion Week in February 2014. Now in her third collection, Luisa Tratzi continues to follow in the same architectural style she established but is introducing eye-popping, summer-perfect colors. We caught up with the designer to discuss launching her brand, receiving prestigious accolades from her industry and future plans.
Tell us a few words about your background. What were you doing before launching your own brand?
I studied Fashion & Textile Design in Milan at the New Academy of Fine Arts, and then worked in womenswear and beachwear (I was a finalist of the international competition “The Link Award” held in Cannes, and offered a presentation of a collection at the International Beachwear Fair “Mare d’Amare” 2012 in Florence). I was introduced in the world of footwear in 2011 through the exhibition “Shoes! 150 years of Italian fashion on tiptoe,” for which I was the curator, organized with the patronage of the Assocalzaturifici Association and the National Chamber of Italian Fashion. Admiring so closely little masterpieces Made-in-Italy was a big inspiration for me. In 2012, I took part in the Next Generation competition sponsored by the National Chamber of Italian Fashion presenting a collection which was selected among the 20 finalists. In 2013, I decided to create my own brand of luxury footwear entirely made in Italy and personally taking care of all the creative and production aspects. As a designer, I felt that the world of shoes could have been the one where I would be able to better express my creativity, and experiment with it.
Have the accolades and awards provided your brand the necessary exposure?
Being selected by the National Chamber of Fashion has been a great honor and an important opportunity to show my creations and take my first steps in the industry. My first collection was presented in Milan Fashion Week in February 2014 thanks to the CNMI selection. Obviously, the fashion industry is highly competitive, and you need to be able to seize every chance you are given to increase visibility of your brand. There are not many initiatives supporting emerging brands, especially accessories, in crucial aspects such as production and distribution, where, without the necessary financial support, many projects can fail.
What do you hope to bring to your industry?
I think my approach to footwear is closer to the world of design than that of fashion. The shoes are “micro-architectures” for me and, I’m fascinated by the challenge of finding a synthesis between aesthetics, comfort and technological research. I love to experiment with the shape of heels, propose solutions through sculptural design and use cutting-edge technologies such as 3D printing. I hope to be able to express a personal and innovative vision, and continue to invest in the rich tradition of Italian craftsmanship.
Besides architecture, which I have read is your biggest inspiration, do you look to the work of other designers for inspiration?
Like any good designers, I am always well-informed and follow the fashion scene nationally and internationally, but I never seek inspiration in the work of other designers. I think inspiration is something very personal, and looking for ideas in other designers can only produce ugly copies of the original. My sources of inspiration are very varied. One is certainly architecture, but I am also inspired by art, graphics, interior design and nature. Inspiration often comes unexpectedly, when observing a detail of a building, a way of walking, an addictive refrain. The inspiration is everywhere for a creative person!
Do your personal preferences affect your designs? I mean, do you wear heels in your everyday life?
Of course! Shoes are my favorite accessories, and I started wearing heels as a teenager – even at school! I love wearing heels, but also flat sandals and ballerinas. I try all the models I create, so I can test the comfort and the fit of every model. Obviously, when I create a collection I think about who will put on my shoes, and try to offer a wide range of models in order to meet the needs of each. So, I try to include a variety both in heels’ heights and in terms of design. Basically, my goal is one: to make happy the women who wear my shoes. I like to say #OgniScarpaUnSorriso (#EveryShoeASmile)!
You have experience in clothing and beachwear. How is this contributing to your work?
These experiences have helped me develop my skills both in the creative and production field, and have prepared me to launch my own label. The process from concept to production is similar, what changes when it comes to shoes is the greater complexity of the production process and the fact that, to me, footwear is “moving architecture.”
Your industry seems to be fixated on price as a representation of quality. Where do you stand on this perception?
The theme of “price” is quite complex in the luxury sector since it is not only influenced by the actual quality of the product but especially by the perception of the brand by the consumer. Personally, I invest all my energy into quality, ensuring a completely transparent supply chain “Made in Italy.” Every component, from leather and heels, and the zip puller and the metallic logo on the sole to the packaging, are designed and manufactured in Lombardy, Italy. I want the price of my shoes to be intrinsically linked to the production (quality of materials, exclusive finishes, original details, personalized colors, etc.). Therefore, it is essential to share with the customers how my shoes are made in order to fully understand the features and quality.
Each shoe is made by hand, and in order for each shoe to realize up to 20 different companies (each of them specialized in a specific manufacturing process or in the realization of a particular material) are involved! You can discover some details only with time. For example, the black soles of my shoes are made of drum dying leather. This guarantees extreme durability of the sole (when you wear the shoes, the color of the sole does not disappear because the sole is impregnated in color and not just painted). My aim is to always offer the best possible quality, and that’s the reason why I offer the possibility to request customized shoes responding to the needs and wishes of my customers.
Where have you presented your work?
My collections were presented in Paris at the “Who’s Next” trade show and in New York at the “Coterie” fair. Each season I also display my new collections in Milan during fashion week.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently overlooking the production of my Fall/Winter collection, which will be in stores in September, and I’m working on the new Spring/Summer 2016 collection. For the near future, I will continue to invest in my brand for increasing distribution in Italy and abroad. I’m also planning to design, in addition to shoes, new accessories!
Images © Luisa Tratzi