London-based Edoardo Bortolato and Niloufar Sassani have recently launched a new footwear label, Boté a Mano, inspired by the different traditions of Eastern and Western cultures.
The Italian-born Bortolato and the Iranian-born Sassani met in Milan in 2012 and after exposing each other to the beauties of their respective cultures, the couple joined forces to launch a fashion label through which they aim to start a wider cultural dialogue.
“Our goal is to help our customers experience the same emotions that we felt while discovering each other’s cultures, through our footwear,” explained Bortolato.
Their inaugural collection consists of three pairs of loafers featuring Oriental-inspired woven fabrics, echoing the art and architecture of Ancient Persia.
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The pair wanted to start by focusing on footwear, given Sassani’s extensive experience working with emerging footwear brands in Europe.
“Before launching Boté A Mano, I was working in the footwear industry advising European startups and emerging brands on design, product development, sourcing and supply chain management. My experience of working within the footwear industry, my love and passion for startups and my existing relationships with the best Italian shoe makers, helped me in the natural transition from consulting entrepreneurs to becoming an entrepreneur myself,” said Sassani.
“Once decided, I pitched the idea to my husband and business partner, Edoardo [Bortolato] who worked as a management consultant at the Boston Consulting Group at the time, and after extensive studies of the market and the strategy we decided to launch the brand together.”
The shoes were created as a collaboration between Italian artisans and weavers from Banaras, India who use a silk weaving technique dating back to the 17th century. To ensure longevity, each piece is made using half a rubber sole over the leather soles to protect them from rain and slippery surfaces.
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Bortolato and Sassani plan to expand the collection with the addition of women’s boots and high heels in the next season, before expanding into men’s wear
“Our immediate plan is to expand the women’s product categories to add to our loafer offer. Our midterm growth plan is however set for a line extension to men’s wear, a category in which I have extensive experience and would continue to represent a fusion of eastern and western know-hows and techniques,” explained Sassani.
“The mission of the brand is to unite people, techniques and know-hows, while encouraging dialogue, love & appreciation for other cultures beyond skin color religion and geography,” said Sassani.
The shoes are prized at 145 pounds or $212 and are available to purchase on the label’s website. The brand is focusing on direct sales channels at its inaugural steps but is planning to work with a select number of retailers in Tehran, London and Milan as of next year.