From Herculaneum to Casandrino: a shoe factory with a history spanning two generations
The story of Calpierre all started with a small shoemaker’s bench. It was 1964 when Ciro De Pascale, who was not quite thirty at the time and entirely self-taught, started up his business in a small workshop right outside his home in Herculaneum, making two or three pairs of shoes a day.
These were men’s shoes, made for an exclusively local clientele from the province of Naples and Salerno.
With time, however, De Pascale’s reputation grew and he became well-known. So much so, in fact, that in 1969 he had to move to larger premises — a 150 sqm factory, where his output increased to 50 pairs of shoes a day.
Two years later, in 1971, the first great turning point came for the firm, which at the time was still called Calzaturificio De Pascale. The business moved once again, this time to a 400 sqm space equipped with brand-new machinery, which enabled De Pascale to gradually conquer the Italian market.
In 1988 Ciro’s three sons joined the firm: Vito, Francesco and Antonio De Pascale. Having practically grown up in the factory, over the years they were able to “absorb” all the know-how needed to carry on the business. Today, the three brothers share the various responsibilities: Vito deals with administration, Francesco is in charge of the operational part and Antonio, sales and marketing.
In 1992 a new line of women’s shoes was launched and, shortly afterwards, in 1994, a new period of growth began; this led to the factory being expanded further and moved to Casandrino, in the heart of the Arzano – Casandrino – Casoria footwear district, where it is still located today. It was then that the company changed its name to become Calpierre (inspired by the name of a shop belonging to a friend and client), and set out to conquer the overseas markets.
Today, the Italian market is still the most important one for the De Pascale family’s shoes, followed by Europe and Asia. Apart from its own house brand, which constitutes most of its turnover, the firm also works for other brands.
Top-quality materials and shoemaking processes involving a high degree of craftsmanship and versatility: these are the three main “ingredients” in Calpierre’s recipe.
The company uses a number of different construction methods, including all the most important ones — slip-lasting, California, Blake Rapid, Ideal and Goodyear — and sometimes over hundred different steps are required to make a single shoe.
The local territory is extremely important: all the firm’s main suppliers, as well as a pool of highly skilled workers, are located within 5 or 6 kilometres of the factory.
The third generation of the De Pascale family is still at school; but sooner or later they too will be ready to join the firm, and to help it take on the challenges of the next few decades.
Interviewed by Italian Shoes, Mr. Vito De Pascale points out that in recent years the situation in the retail industry – i.e. in retail stores – regarding the entire sector, has grown steadily worse. Which is why other strategies need to be brought into play.
«We are investing heavily in marketing and communication — De Pascale explains — with the idea of boosting our own brand and selling directly to the public through our ecommerce platform, which is already up and running, and through the main marketplaces. But producing shoes remains our priority. We have all the necessary facilities and know-how to open up to further production partnerships with other brands».