A family firm set up in 1950 and characterised by an almost maniacal attention to detail, R&D and passion
The story of the Alberto Fasciani brand has, at the very least, two beginnings.
The first “once upon a time” dates back to 1950, when Franco Fasciani establishes his footwear company in Fermo, in the heart of the Marche region’s shoemaking district, making products for men, women and children.
This activity carries on until the early Eighties, when the founder’s son Alberto takes over. As a great horse riding enthusiast from an early age, it occurs to Alberto that living in an area totally dedicated to shoemaking while wearing English riding boots — the most common at the time — was something of a paradox.
«How is it possible that here, in the very heartland of the shoe manufacturing industry, we are incapable of making our own boots and marketing them successfully? », he wondered. And that was the moment when the second “once upon a time” came into play: the firm, renamed Alberto Fasciani, starts to specialise in riding boots and, in the span of a few years, becomes one of the most sought-after brands in the world, thanks to an almost maniacal attention to detail and the continuous search for new ways to ensure comfort, resilience and durability.
After firmly establishing itself in the niche market of equestrian footwear — today, approximately 60% of professional riders are clients of the Marche-based brand — over the following years the company starts to conquer the fashion market as well.
«This wasn’t really our intention», Alberto Fasciani tells Italian Shoes. «It’s the “fault”, or I should say, it’s thanks to our customers. Having got used to bespoke riding boots, they started asking me to make shoes for them as well».
The first women’s collection, therefore, came about quite spontaneously. It was presented in Milan, without too much clamour, during one of the very first editions of White, but had an enormous success and attracted the attention of some of the world’s most important retailers. “Once upon a time” number three: a new challenge, successfully overcome.
A few seasons later on and it was the turn of the men’s line. «Our sales representatives practically told me I was mad. According to them the men’s footwear market was at a standstill and it would be suicidal to launch ourselves onto that as well », says Fasciani. The bottom line is that the men’s line has proved to be even more successful than the women’s.
Once again, the merit goes to the quality of the products, an attention to detail and the courage to try out new solutions which acted as trailblazers for the rest of the industry, such as for example the garment dye technique, to give shoes a more washed-out, worn look.
«I make my own product. I have never worked specifically for a certain type of market. I make the things I like. The spirit is “Let all those who love me — follow me!” », jokes Fasciani, going on to explain that each individual item is first and foremost the fruit of pleasure and passion, and then of research.
As a designer and entrepreneur, Alberto Fasciani studies the raw materials, the construction of the shoe, all entirely Made in Italy, invents new solutions and discusses them with the manufacturers. The Marche-based firm is also one of the few to have an in-house prototype department, where prototypes of lasts are made and tested. The research and working methods applied to technical riding boots — which continue to be an important part of the production — also influence the fashion lines.
All this care and attention is appreciated by the customers, and not only those that buy from the shops. «Incredibly, even those that visit the online store demonstrate a strong attachment to the brand. The time they spend on our site — I’ve been told — is much higher than the average. And those who put in an order are willing to wait for perhaps two months to receive a pair of bespoke shoes», says Fasciani.
In a very different and much more complicated market from the one that existed at the time of his father Franco, who died in 2013 and from whom he learnt his trade, the entrepreneur is trying to encourage the generational turnover. But his two sons are still young and, he adds, «it’s up to them to decide whether they want to do this work or not. What I keep telling them is that it is a difficult job but one that gives great satisfaction, as long as you do it with passion and enthusiasm. If they want to do it, they will have my wholehearted support. And even if they don’t want to, they’ll still have my support, whatever they decide to do».
One of the greatest challenges for the future is how to communicate the quality of the products better, and all the work that goes into making them. Today, Fasciani explains, despite the fact that we live in the era of information, there is, paradoxically, buyers are less able to evaluate products: they find it harder to understand the differences and real value of a pair of shoes.