Sara, Vera and Marianna Giusti are refreshing the family company, now in its third generation.
Montegranaro isn’t in most atlases. Which isn’t really surprising given that it’s a small town with just over 10,000 inhabitants, located midway between Macerata and Fermo, clinging to one of the many, stunning hills that characterise the Marche hinterland. However, if you change “lens” and perspective, you’ll discover that this is actually one of the most important areas in the world for the shoe sector. And it has been for the past two centuries. Here, at the end of the 1700s, the chiochiera was invented, a comfortable slipper with a horse leather sole, and since then the area has been producing high quality shoes, thanks to the skills of the artisans and the entrepreneurial spirit of the people of Montegranaro.
In fact, it was the talent, taste and elegance of one of the townspeople that laid the foundations for Attilio Giusti Leombruni spa, known today under the acronym AGL.
Back in the 1950s, there were many manufacturers producing shoes in Montegranaro. But one man had his very own style: his name was Piero Giusti and he had a passion for dressing well. Tailored suits, Borsalino hat, Neapolitan ties – Giusti knew all the best producers and he was considered one of the most elegantly dressed men in the area. His shoes, however, he produced himself, for both him and his wife Ruth.
Giusti worked in the basement of his house, before opening a small business producing women’s shoes in 1958, thus planting the seed for what would later become AGL. He often took his son, Attilio, with him to the workshop, where the boy would play with the basket of prototypes.
A childhood spent amid leather, uppers, soles and shoe forms made it inevitable that Attilio would follow in his father’s footsteps. Indeed in 1976 he took charge of the company. With his wife, Chiara Leombruni, he decided to change its name to Attilio Giusti Leombruni and started to expand, focusing on his products being handmade in Italy to conquer foreign markets.
AGL became popular in northern Europe, particularly in Germany. At the same time, the next generation of the Giusti family were, quite literally, taking their first steps. Attilio and Chiara’s three daughters played as children with the offcuts of leather and accessories they found around the factory. Named Sara, Vera and Marianna, with just two years between each of them, they used the offcuts to make clothes for their dolls.
As they grew up, the Giusti sisters learned their trade through play and being curious. As teenagers they spent their summers in the factory helping the workers, discovering every single aspect that goes into creating a shoe, from design to construction.
After each sister had completed her studies and gone on to work, Sara, Vera and Marianna came back to the company to take control when, about ten years ago, their father Attilio decided the time was right to pass the baton on.
The three sisters share the tasks and responsibilities based on their aptitudes and education.
“I’m head of marketing and communication, Sara is director of sales and Marianna is the designer. Together we create the collections: we research, select our inspirations, decide which materials and accessories to use”, Vera Giusti told Italian Shoes.
100% Italian, produced in the company’s factory with materials from Italian suppliers, AGL shoes are characterised by an essential, contemporary design embellished with original and feminine details.
“They are designed for modern women who, like us, have hectic lives and are constantly torn between family and professional commitments,” said Vera Giusti, describing the characteristics that appeal to a range of very diverse markets, such as Europe, the United States and Russia.
With its 130 employees – equally represented by men and women – the company has in recent years invested a great deal in communication, completely refreshing the visual identity of the brand. This task was entrusted to the prestigious German agency Meirè und Meirè. For its campaigns the brand has chosen style icons like Stella Tennant, Dakota Fanning, Maggie Gyllenhaal, it has shot fashion films and added the finishing touches to the wardrobes of celebrities like Gigi Hadid, Amy Adams, Mila Kunis, Elizabeth Olsen, Frida Pinto, Camila Mendes, Coco Rocha and Mia Moretti.
“You need to keep up with the constant changes taking place in the fast-paced world we live in: both digital communication and distribution are constantly evolving and we need to be modern and contemporary across all sectors”, the Giusti sisters stressed.
In the meantime, a new generation is preparing for the future.
“I’ve got three children”, Vera explained, “and both Sara and Marianna have two. We are bringing them up with the same values our parents brought us up with. We want them to be close and to be able to work together; we want them to do things passionately, whatever their interests, and we want them to work hard to meet their goals. They already come to play in the company”.