Although great designers don’t live for centuries, their name lives forever. Salvatore Ferragamo, born on 5th June 1898 was a known shoe designer from Italy. His interest in shoemaking sparked at an early age and since then he was ambitious about his career. For Ferragamo, his business was not just about earning but it was also about showing the world what perfection is.
Ferragamo was born in Bonito, Italy and grew up among thirteen siblings. His shoe fetish started from the age of nine when he made some for his sisters. This is when he became certain of what he wanted to do with his career and after learning the art of shoemaking for a year in Naples, he opened a small shop in his parent’s house.
In 1914, he moved to Boston and convinced his brother, who worked in a boot factory, to move to Santa Barbara then to Hollywood in California. Salvatore Ferragamo was fascinated by modern working methods and machinery, but he also noticed its limitations in quality. Here, Ferragamo found his success and became popular amid celebrities. At this time, California used to be the city of dreams and cinema; this led to a long journey of designing shoes for the film stars to wear generally as well as to flaunt them in movies. However, his shoes were only partially pleasing his customers, and this made him wonder why his creations only satisfied the eyes and not the feet. In this case, he began studying human body anatomy, mathematics and chemical engineering at the University of Southern California.
In 1927, Salvatore Ferragamo returned to his homeland after residing in the United States for 13 years and settled in Florence. During this time, he began fashioning shoe-wear for powerful and wealthy women, such as Eva Peron, Queen of Cooch Behar (West Bengal), Marilyn Monroe and many more. In Via Mannelli, he opened his workshop to conduct design experiments and inventions to apply for patents. In the 1950s, the designer extended his business by employing 700 professional artisans who manufactured more than 340 pairs of handmade footwear each day.
Ferragamo’s most recognized invention is Cage Heel and his continuous creations inspired his daughter to walk on the same career path. In 1978, she designed Vara pumps that are famous to date for their feminine, formal and elegant look. Unfortunately, she didn’t live to see the coming success of her father’s brand and died in 1998. Prior to his eldest daughter’s death, in 1995, a museum was dedicated to his work and life in Palazzo Spini Feroni that was bought in the 1930s by Ferragamo himself.
After his death in 1960, his company still expanded and became known worldwide for producing and designing eyewear, footwear, accessories, bags, perfumes, watches and apparel. It was Salvatore Ferragamo’s dream to produce the perfect shoes ever in the world and this he realized on his deathbed. It then became the responsibility of his family to fulfill this vision and transform the company into an ideal fashion house. His desire included two things: first was to involve his children into the business and second was to add more products under the brand’s umbrella. Hence his wife, kids, grandchildren and other relatives run the company today and strive to maintain the quality that Ferragamo had once imagined to achieve. Today the Ferragamo house of fashion is much bigger than what the founder may have wanted it to become.