Officine Creative is putting in the work.
Since its official wholesale debut in the U.S. market for fall ’13, the Italian brand has been picked up by Gimme Shoes in San Francisco, Madison in Los Angeles and Louis Boston for both men’s and women’s shoes. Mrporter.com carries several men’s looks. (Barneys New York has sold the men’s styles for eight years.)
In June, the label launched its first website since its founding in 1996. The site features photos of the collection, background on the brand, retailers who sell the shoes and links to social media platforms.
“The main focus is making traditional Italian-made shoes,” said Tobias Dariz, chief commercial officer for the brand. “We select only leathers from Italian tanneries and have everything 100 percent made in Italy by artisans.”
Dariz joined the company almost two years ago and works closely with brand founders Roberto and Luca di Rosa, fourth-generation shoe manufacturers who produce the shoes in their own facility in Italy. While the firm started as a men’s brand, now it is split evenly with Roberto designing the men’s shoes and Luca creating the women’s looks. Retail prices range from $500 to $900.
“For two years now, we’ve invested a lot in developing a proper women’s line, focusing on more feminine product and construction — still with a menswear-inspired [look],” said Dariz.
As Officine Creative aims to build its U.S. business — its main markets are Europe and Asia — Dariz sat down with Footwear News to discuss building brand awareness, social media and how sneakers have created excitement in the men’s collection.
1. Are you doing any marketing in the U.S.?
TD: The brand didn’t have a proper website until [this summer]. All these years we’ve been selling all these shoes without anything on the web at all. We took our time to analyze properly what we should do to promote the brand on the web. The launch is basically information and some of the pictures of the product and our global network of retailers.
2. What is the best social media site right now?
TD: For us, it’s where we can get most of the feedback and reach out to our consumers, which is Instagram, actually. The founders can [update it] when they have a new product and then put it on the web. They take a lot of pictures and put them on there.
3. Your fall ’13 men’s woven sneaker got a lot of buzz. Was it really successful?
TD: We presented it in September  and did some tests at selected retailers. It was successful, and the product was sold out within two weeks. That was one of the reasons we decided to believe in it more and present it properly for spring ’14. We weren’t even sure if we should present it because a lot of people who first looked at it would compare it to Nike, because of the look of the running shoe. But it’s actually covered in leather and all that is woven is actually leather.
4. Is this one of the first sneakers from Officine Creative?
TD: This is one of the first sneakers we’ve made. The men’s shoe business is difficult because it’s always just black and brown, derbys or oxfords or loafers. For spring/summer [’14], we needed to innovate the collection a little bit more and we tried to come up with something more colorful and new concepts for lighter, more summery shoes.
5. What are you excited about for this season?
TD: Officine has not done a lot of sneakers, and Roberto always believed that if we do a sneaker we should do one you couldn’t find anywhere else. It had to be very different from what’s on the market. Roberto hated the slim silhouette, so he made one of leather with leather lining. He came up with this concept — to use a dryer to melt the sole. We presented this [$490 high-top in different colors, printed exotic leathers, perforations and flower motif] at men’s fashion week in Paris. This is the eye-catcher of the collection.