Shoe designer finds her feet in Italian job
Irishwoman is in shoe heaven among artisan elite
Fashion entrepreneur Anita Flavin readily admits she is in "shoe heaven".
Flavin is one of a handful of Irish creatives designing luxury ladies footwear, and this month, she showcased her latest business venture: Ennio Mecozzi shoes and bags.
Handmade in Marche, the luxury shoemaking region of Italy, Flavin is creative director of the brand owned by Ennio Mecozzi, a third-generation artisan shoemaker. Flavin has designed 20 styles for summer 2015 and 30 for next season.
"Our aim is to make shoes that as comfortable and wearable as they are beautiful," says Flavin, who is responsible for designing the collections, marketing strategies and driving the sales and brand ethics.
Her debut collection working with Ennio includes court shoes, occasion wear and party styles in metallic cracked leather, shiny, patent, matt leathers and suedes.
Prices start at €380 and product is available from independent boutiques and from the brand's website, enniomecozzi.com.
However, it hasn't been easy for Flavin, who in 2001, launched her own shoe brands, Neet and Minette.
She enjoyed immediate success, selling her brands into Harrods, Selfridges, Topshop and Kurt Geiger - and with the brands firmly on the map, she also sold into independent retailers throughout Europe, USA and Japan
"When the Celtic Tiger came to an end, I implemented survival skills and took back as much unpaid stock from the buyers that I could. I then opened my own shoe boutique in order to sell surplus stock at discounted prices and regain my financial footing," she said
Her shoe boutique in Derry helped keep her afloat - and then when fashion spending opened up again, Flavin looked up her Italian contacts.
The launch of her upmarket shoes is going down well, especially in the special occasion market - like mothers of the bride - but her customer base starts with young women of around 25 years "who want shoes that their friends won't have," says Flavin.
Flavin has her eye on the widest market possible so she has four different heel heights, different colour ways, and offers matching clutch bags for optimum sales.
"I'm working with Italian tanneries, heel houses and component houses that are the best in the world. It's comparable to a private members' club, where only the elite are allowed entrance, and I feel honoured to work at a level where only precision and perfection exist," says Flavin who is currently basing herself between Dublin, Derry, London and Marche.
It's been a long journey to the factory in Marche. Flavin was born in London to Irish parents and she has worked her way up the shoe ladder after starting her career in the buying room at Office London, the well-known high street brand.
"I'm really delighted with the range I designed for Ennio because the highest quality of workmanship is implemented at every stage of the design and production process, the individual components are in perfect equilibrium together.
"I've always dreamt of creating a range of Italian-made shoes which exuberate luxury, comfort and desirability. I'm very happy with this first season and can't wait for autumn winter because there are 50pc more styles," says Flavin.
Sunday Indo Business