The history and evolution of the brand, owned by the Marini Paolo shoe factory, as told by the CEO Roberto Rustichelli
A story that starts long ago, in 1918, documented by a diploma “of artisan seniority” that the Italian General Confederation of Crafts conferred to the “shop master” Paolo Marini. That document contains the key words that have accompanied the evolution of the company over one hundred years: that know-how typical of the artisan workshops in the Marche region, where the shoe factory still resides today in San Severino Marche, to pass on a wealth of technical skills, which has not been lost over time even when the company took on an industrial structure. Three generations of the Marini family followed one another, until 2015, when an entrepreneurial turnaround became necessary that could only take place with a new shareholder structure, which took over the company, as explained by the current CEO, Roberto Rustichelli. “The fourth generation was not interested in this business” – he specifies – “but now we have brought the fifth generation on board in the form of Riccardo and Marianna Soverchia”. It is always Rustichelli who tells the story of the company, as it was transmitted to him by Carlo Marini, Paolo’s son: “Between the two great wars, the founder had had financial difficulties and had moved to Civitavecchia to be a cobbler. After the port was bombed, he returned to San Saverino to continue the activity which has always remained rooted in the territory, even if we are not in the apex of the Civitanova and Fermo district of the Marche region”. However, the change in production was inevitable: from an “evolved” cobbler making clogs and slippers, to men’s footwear for the world of work, to a product linked to fashion.
If before the nineties the brand was called Charlie, alluding to the American imagination with a shoe that recalled the desert boot, then Seboy’s was born at the beginning of the decade. “The ancient name of the area around San Severino is Septempeda” – explains Rustichelli – “and Seboy’s was born as a portmanteau of this name and boys”. The new brand also coincided with the introduction of women’s footwear, adopting that androgynous look that characterised the fashion of the nineties, and with international growth. The global crisis of 2007-2008 involved all sectors and the footwear sector was also affected by the recession. The company focused on the Italian market and then returned to looking abroad with the new corporate structure and the entry in 2016 of the current CEO.
It is inevitable that a company evolves towards an industrial organisation, but an artisan soul can also be maintained in some manual operations
‘Made in Italy’ remains the strong point of the company, which has a small internal cutting and joining department, also making use of external laboratories, that are almost “zero kilometres” in nature. “The proximity of suppliers and the supply chain allows us to have direct and constant control over production” – confirms Rustichelli – “the selection of materials, attention to detail and care in workmanship are equally essential for a successful accessory. It is inevitable that a company evolves towards an industrial organisation, but an artisan soul can also be maintained in some manual operations, such as brushing and certain seams, which give added value to a mass-produced product. Ours are shoes that follow fashion, but we cannot disregard ancient knowledge of perfect proportions and some construction techniques such as the slip-lasting and ideal ones, which ensure comfort in the models”.
With the new management, the company has set itself new goals: expansion abroad, digitisation, research and product development, always respecting the values handed down from previous generations. Consolidating Italy and returning to growth abroad, which had been abandoned, is one of the priorities for expanding distribution in multi-brand stores. In Italy, a Seboy’s stores project is making headway, the first of which was opened as a franchise in San Severino in September 2020 in the midst of the Covid period. The goal is to open another 4/5 in important cities and to expand their presence in clothing boutiques. “With our footwear” – says Rustichelli – “we want to give new generations the right mix between contemporary aesthetics and manufacturing tradition. To reach a wider target, we are expanding the range of products with more feminine models and a brand extension is also planned, which includes leather goods and footwear accessories”.