The story of Sutor Mantellassi, the expert shoe manufacturer of Italy and Europe, began in the year of 1912. Since then the tradition, which has been passed on through apprenticeship of father to son, has lived on until the 21st century and with regard to the strength it derives from the very foundation, the brand has retained its story of success for many years to come.

It was the year of 1912 when the two brothers, Ettore and Enea opened a shoe atelier that would change the lives of next three generations, in Tizzana village near Quarrata in Pistoia. Enea, born in 1888, was the first one to acquire the know-how of shoe making. He joined the WW1 in 1912 but was sent to Bologna after being injured in combat, where he met very talented sewing masters that manufactured shoes in Bologna and Ferrara. Enea learned a great deal from them and returned home having obtained resourceful experiences. He started producing for middle and higher classes in his atelier in Tizzana, aiming the Pistoia and Prato market. He moved out of Tizzana in 1920. Enea’s oldest son Lido was born in 1913 and his second Ledo, in 1924. The latter graduated from the science high school and became a chemistry technician. He later signed up for college, but the WWII broke out. Mantellassi broadened his territory in Bologna after the war; opened stores in Florence, in Piazza della Repubblica in 1957; in Bologna, in Via Indipendenza in 1959; and in Galleria Cavour, Via Rondinelli and Prato in 1963.

In 1962, Ledo and Lido decided to divide the labour. Lido would take care of marketing, while Ledo would deal with design, styling and production. Lido kept the ‘Mantellassi’ trademark and the stores in Bologna, Prato and Via Indipendenza while Ledo launched the ‘Sutor Mantellassi’ brand in Piazza della Repubblica in Florence and Galleria Cavour in Bologna. It was important to pick the right logo for the brand. For this purpose the real mission of the brand was taken into account; high quality craftsmanship. It is no coincidence that “sutor” means talented sewing master and shoemaker in Latin. While Ledo’s designs were only popular in Bologna and Ferrara, especially in the ‘60s women’s shoes were preferred in Napoli and men’s in Parma and Tuscany. Via Rondinelli became the meeting point of high middle-class customers as well as internationally renowned customers. In addition to the classical line, company boots and sneakers were released. In the ‘70s the brand ranked in 3rd place within women’s shoe brands of 1500 pairs. Being inspired from the 17th century, they produced Latin-style
models with slightly square shoe tips. Sutor Mantellassi started to appeal different styles; in men’s shoes there were sporty, city-wear, every day style leather shoes, while in women’s, more elegant models inspired from men’s shoes attracted more attention. Suede leather, buckled moccasin and laces were used often. Especially the golden accessories used in women’s sports shoes stood out. Sutor Mantelassi discovered shoe shops on different streets in line with their traditional attitude, which meant that, techniques and designs in the region of the store could always be included in the brand’s design. For example, Eduard Meier atelier in Munich had been producing shoes for Court since 1596. Mantellassi decided to gather the firm under a single roof in Bologna in order to retain its success. By applying the same production procedures, they headed for handmade shoes and
retail. In 1977 the former Mantellassi supplier and a shoe shop in San Pietro passed their business on to Sutor Mantellassi and thus the whole production line moved to its new building in a couple of years. Meanwhile, Ledo and his wife were in charge of marketing side of the operation in Florence. The following two seasonal lines were designed by Ledo and were manufactured according to his instructions. A magnificent collection, which was to be kept in the company archives, became a major source of inspiration and gained international significance. Ledo purchased the finest leathers from tanneries from Italy, France, England and Germany and he was obsessively
sensitive while picking his material. Leather footplate had always been Italian, laces belonged to Strupai, a firm that was well-known throughout Europe. Italian customers mostly liked the high quality leather. Ostrich and alligator leathers were imported. The whole production process was carried out by hand and meticulously. During this period 200 pairs of women’s shoes were being sold on a monthly basis.

One more shop was opened in Bologna, and two more in Florence. Retail was carried out in the outlets in the rest of the country. Belts, small leather bags, travel bags and key holders were introduced. The brand was also favoured by celebrities. Louis Aragon, Ezra Pound, Oriana Fallaci, Giovanni Spadolini, Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, the King of Morocco, Duchess of Manchester, Prince von Metternich, King Juan Carlos and Nino Manfredi wore Sutor shoes. Marcello Mastroianni was wearing Sutor Mantellassi when he left his footprint in Hollywood Boulevard in 1965. In September of 1978 Sutor Mantellassi started to attend the ‘Pitti Uomo’ fashion fair. The visit of Gérard Penneroux, the creative director of Maison Dior, gave the brand a unique direction. Later he sent a proposal with some notes and ordered 200 pairs by making some changes in order to customize the shoes. After that point on, Sutor Mantellassi became the official supplier of Dior for 10 years. Dior was the first prominent international customer of this brand and helped the brand accelerate its reputation. In addition to Pitti, the brand affiliated with other fairs in Bologna and Milan, that hosted the luxury shoe market. In 1978, Ledo’s son Luca joined the company. In 1987 the company merged with another group company, Classico Italia. This merge helped the brand greatly and in the ‘90s the daily production increased up to 200 pairs. The firm never abandoned their sensitive approach in production, however the marketing strategies were adapted to be able to keep up to date. In the early ‘90’s, Sutor Mantellassi was available in the stocks of 300 international stores in Germany, Holland, Spain, France, New York, Boston, Miami, Seattle and Los Angeles. After this period, the brand placed more emphasis on media relations. Public relations was entrusted to a special studio as the optimal way to reach a wider range of customers and to increase brand awareness. Several editorials and stories started to appear in publications such as L’Europeo, Corriere della Sera, La Repubblica, La Stampa, Il Giorno, La Gazzetta di Parma and La Gazzetta di Firenze, L’Uomo Vogue, Uomo Harper’s Bazaar, Fashion, Vogue Pelle, Moda Pelle, Foto Shoe 30, Il Mondo della Calzatura; and Trépoints. Most reviews reached a consensus: the products were costly
but definitely worth it. In 1991 Sutor Mantellassi launched Norwegian style Finis Austriae, produced upon special order. The choice of leather was again of high quality and there were elegant yet sportier models available as well. A store was opened in 1986 in Milan’s Via della Spiga and a showroom in 1992 Via Paleocapa. A boutique was opened in Via Verri in 1994 and more selling points were added to the outlets in Dallas, Seattle and Galleries Lafayette in Paris. In 1966, a new footwear store wholly dedicated to Sutor Mantelassi shoes was opened in Tokyo. In the beginning of the new millennium, the brand gave distribution rights to Crocus in Moscow. Sutor
Mantellassi cared a great deal about the interior design and the style reflected in each store opened in a new location. The company entered Dizionario della Moda and produced 101 pairs of custom-made shoes and put this limited, special collection on the market in 2002, for the celebration of their 90th year. In 2006 Sutor Mantellassi re-launched the one-brand boutiques in order to sustain company’s high standards and devotion to tradition. In 2007 several showrooms were opened in city centres such as USA, Russia, Japan, Milan, Tokyo and Florence. Now the handmade shoes of Sutor Mantellassi are produced with many different techniques such as The Blake, The Bologna, The tubular, Goodyear, Norwegian. Respect to tradition, superb craftsmanship, quality materials and exclusive design are attributes that distinguish Sutor Mantellassi from others. From shoes to bags, every product is manufactured in a way to satisfy modern people’s needs and with an impeccable, elegant and comfortable design that reflects the brand’s values. Each and every Sutor Mantellassi is a product of great patience and expert hands; made by taking the necessities of fashion world into account as well as following the new trends. This brand, with its more than 100 years of experience, traditional craftsmanship and quality leather choice; has a rooted and well-deserved place in the sector.

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