At Pitti Immagine Uomo this season, which wraps today in Florence, Italy, Italian heritage shoe brand Sutor Mantellassi and street-style photographer Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist site teamed up for a third season.
As first reported by FN, the collaboration began last June as a singular lug-sole chiseled oxford. For spring ’16, Mantellassi and Schuman expanded to a capsule of leather sneakers with colorful side striping.
“We just put them in our [Milan store] windows, and they’ve already been selling,” said Mantellassi CEO Anton Magnani. “Scott brings a sense of modernist key to the shoes. The sneakers have been performing especially well. They have layered paneling, but no stitches can be seen.”
We caught up with Schuman to hear about the latest collection and what his discerning eye is drawn to these days.
Why did you want to continue this collaboration?
“The reaction to the first style we did, in tribute to Marcello Mastrionni, was really good. They sold out of them. Last Pitti, we premiered four new styles, all with that lug sole. We did a boot with a double strap, a monk-strap and two lace-ups. But because I wear sneakers a lot now, I wanted to make one of my own. But, and how do I say this in a nice way, one of those crazy old-man Italian styles that are basically a dress shoe with a rubber sole! Really overshined and the whole thing. The French do that with a lot of their brands. I said if we were to do this, you’ve got to build me a new shoe from the ground up. It has to be a whole new thing and really feel like a sneaker so I can wear it with jeans.”
What was Sutor Mantellassi’s response to your challenge?
“They are a very good Italian brand. They really wanted to address my concerns. The whole idea of collaborating with me was to do something a little different, a little younger. They saw me as a classic guy, but the market is really going for sneakers right now. If you want a younger, cooler customer to discover your brand, you have to do sneakers right now. They listened and the pattern that I felt, being something who wears sneakers a lot, is that a lot of people have been doing these takes on Common Projects — very simple sneaker, but in solid. They might have had beautiful colors and textures in the leather, but I was ready to get back into some layered colors. We used three different colors of suede on a very simple shape, almost like a Converse. I wanted it to be all about sophisticated color combinations.”
How do you hope this ongoing collaboration is perceived?
“Well, since I’m a photographer and this is my first time working with a shoe brand, if it goes horribly, I can [blame it on that]. But I thought it was a really great opportunity to create something that I don’t think is so easy to find. I tried to offer something different than what was out there. Luckily, people have responded in a great way. Colette picked it up, Harrod’s bought them in a big way, [and] so did Saks and La Rinascente in Milan. You just never know, and it doesn’t happen right away. It took a couple re-sees, but between the quality of Sutor’s production and the new styles we did, it was unique to them.”
What was your inspiration for the color combinations on the sneakers?
“I very much the Sutor customer. I’m a regular guy, but I want to buy classics in interesting colors. I really wanted to come up with sneakers that fit my lifestyle. I’m wearing the deep rich pink, red and merlot combination in Italy for the shows this season. I wanted something where it didn’t matter if you were straight, gay or whatnot, you could wear them. A lot of guys I know have things they can wear with them, but it doesn’t look like Saint Laurent, Valentino or any of the other brands that are doing popular sneakers right now.”
How will you be wearing them?
“You can wear them with khakis, gray flannels, denim, white jeans — any of that. I will be wearing them all with shorts. I like a dark summer look. I don’t dress in a lot of summer light colors. I also think it would look great with flare jeans since the colors have a bit of a retro feel.”
What other brands are catching your eye in fashion right now?
“I love how Gucci has gone so far in the other direction. They were really smart, I have bought a lot from the past two seasons because you can do it — there is a way to buy it in a way that is a little more Seventies-directed and fashion-forward, but not as feminine as the bow blouses and things like that. I think a guy that likes Gucci could wear my Sutor sneakers with that collection very easily. There is a little pop to it.”
What shoes are next for you?
“For spring ’17 at Pitti Uomo, we did them all in white with, again, really cool, brighter color combinations. I did two groups, all on white leather with contrasting shades of gray, smoky topaz and taupe. I love sports, so I also did a group of brighter summer sneakers, which I am really excited about.”