"At the top end of the market, they appreciate especially things that are not made in China. And we are 100 percent made in Italy.”
Salvatore Ferragamo made his first pair of shoes at the age of 9 for his sisters' communion. It was the beginning of a lifetime pursuit. From there, Ferragamo went on to study shoemaking in Naples, and then moved to Boston where his brother worked in a cowboy boot plant. Soon after, Ferragamo convinced his brother to move to California with him. He experienced immediate success and became known as the "Shoemaker to the Stars." Frustrated by his inability to design and make a shoe that was both pleasing to the eye and comfortable to the foot, Ferragamo studied anatomy at the University of Southern California.
In 1927, Ferragamo returned to Italy and opened a store in Florence, fashioning shoes for the wealthiest and most powerful women of the century; from the Maharani of Cooch Behar to Eva Peron to Marilyn Monroe. In 1929, he opened a workshop in the Via Mannelli, concentrating his efforts in experimenting with design. He applied for patents for ornamental and utility models, along with related inventions. Ferragamo was always recognized as a visionary, and his designs ranged from the strikingly bizarre objet d'art to the traditionally elegant, often serving as the main inspiration to other footwear designers both of his time and beyond. Salvatore Ferragamo died in 1960 at the age of 62, but his name lives on as an international company, which has expanded its operations to include luxury shoes, bags, eyewear, silk accessories, watches, perfumes and a ready- to-wear clothing line. At his death his wife Wanda and later on their six children (Fiamma, Giovanna, Fulvia, Ferruccio, Massimo and Leonardo) ran the Ferragamo Company. In 1995 The Salvatore Ferragamo Museum was opened on the second floor of the Palazzo Spini Feroni in Florence, to display part of the collection of his revolutionary designs including the legendary cage heel.
Ferragamo had limitless enthusiasm for his craft and diligence in his business. Although forced to file for bankruptcy in 1933 due to bad management and economic pressures, Ferragamo nonetheless expanded his operation during the 1950s to a workforce of around 700 expert artisans that produced 350 pairs of hand-made shoes a day. Ferragamo's drive to build the perfect shoe created an empire that is still around a century later.