Flat wedges had a big moment at Première Classe, but nowhere were they as appealing as at Avellino, the newly launched brand of a French-Portuguese shoe manufacturer that is also purveyor to a number of luxury fashion brands. Voilà: Riva! “We named it after a very lucky boat,” mused Charlie Machado, who runs the family business in second generation. It took 35 years of experience to come up with the style, which gives the impression of the block being done in wood much like a yacht’s hull, when it’s indeed leather-covered cork. “We are very keen on comfort and construction. Wood would be very heavy. This weighs nothing,” Machado explained. And if you think you see patent leather here, think again – it’s glacé calfskin.
Comfort shoes are back, but no need to panic, when they can be as streamlined and minimalist as the babouche slippers by Wal & Pai. The L.A.-based shoemakers spare no effort on their locally manufactured footwear done from Italian and soft Napa leathers. “The idea is to make them wearable all day long, while keeping their structure,” said co-founder Hsuan Pai. “That’s the advantage of producing locally. We are in constant touch with our workshop and can butt them to make changes until it works.” Versions of the slipper also exist for winter, with a closed heel, or come with a mirrored finish in rose or silver.
A pointed toe was seen anywhere at Première Classe – from a classic ballerina to a new-age sneaker. There were pointy espadrilles, pointy pumps, pointy lace-ups… You get the point. Dragon’s kittens scored double, as they came in the brand’s signature leather weaving, a know-how the company kindly lends to Chanel, Hermès and other fashion behemoths. “Clients often asked for shoes to go with our bags, and so we introduced them into our range,” explained Craig S. Wright, who founded the brand as a diffusion line to his exquisite manufacturing site. The leather is hand-woven by female artisans in India. Be prepared to see a chic, vintage patina develop over time.
“Africa is the future,” argued Hugues Didier, who with his buddy Vulfran de Richoufftz launched Panafrica, a colorful and socially conscious sneakers line. From A to Z handmade in Africa, the unique styles commence their journey on the Ivory Coast or in Ghana, where the authentic wax pattern fabrics are sourced; the unisex shoes are later assembled by old-school craftsmen in Morocco; and by the time they make it into a connoisseur’s wardrobe, they have financed the brand’s Walk For School Project. “With every pair sold, we equip one child for school. What people often don’t realize is that when kids in rural Africa get the opportunity to go to school, they have nothing to go to school with, and so we give them pencils, a blackboard and a backpack,” said De Richoufftz. At Première Vision, the tribal theme continued on headwear, scarves and jewelry.
Give glitz a chance. With the gypset trending for next spring, putting good old artisanship back on the map, a little shine can’t harm. No surprise then that Elodie Bruno’s woven ankle boots with a metallic coating are bestsellers all summer long. “We like that they are elegant and a little savage at the same time,” said Bruno, noting that the elastic bands on the shoes’ sides were inspired by old gymnast slippers. Because we are all creatures of comfort.