Sneakers or high heels? That’s millennials’ drama. Sportswear and sneakers — along with collaborations with big sportswear companies — have become increasingly prevalent among luxury fashion houses. However, Italian emerging talent Benedetta Boroli takes things the other way around, designing heels that infuse sporty elements into her feminine styles.
“To be honest, I’m a sporty girl,” Boroli said. “I like designing formal shoes but in my daily life I wear sneakers, so I like to combine different materials and try to find a compromise among these two worlds.” The designer, who launched her label in Spring 2017, blends technical fabrics such as lycra, neoprene and rubberized hides with classic, more refined materials like calf leather and suede.
“I love doing research to find new technical fabrics so I thought ‘why not try to ennoble them?’” she said. Styles that merge elements from both the sneaker and the heel include high-heeled sandals, pumps, boots and ballerina flats with embossed neoprene detailing or sporty mesh inserts. She also has shoes with an outer space theme that includes glitter zip inserts and iridescent details.
Spring 2018 looked to the jungle. “I was inspired by the Paradisaeidae birds (commonly known as Birds-of-paradise) of New Guinea, which are super-colorful and very elegant,” said Boroli, explaining the abundant use of color in the collection. Inspired by a trip Boroli took to Myanmar last year, the styles range from orange to fuchsia, from yellow to electric blue with golden elastic bands embellishments. She has also added new flats, mules and middle-height heels to her repertoire.
With a degree in economics and management of cultural heritage, Boroli worked in TV production before hitting the footwear business. “[TV] wasn’t my thing, so I told myself ‘or now or never’ and pursued my longtime passion for shoes,” she said. She honed her technical skills studying design and collection development, modeling and prototyping at the Ars Sutoria School in Milan followed by a stint working in the Venetian footwear district of Riviera del Brenta.
With prices ranging from $460 to $695, the brand is sold at multi-brand stores throughout Italy. These include the N. 30 in Milan, the Gibot in Rome, the Russo in Capri, the Deliberti in Naples, the Spinnaker in Portofino along with her e-commerce site. “I’m very jealous of my things, meaning that if a store doesn’t pick a certain style but I still want to keep producing it, I have an alternative channel where I can decide what to sell and reach directly the consumers,” Boroli said.
In the meantime, one of the designer’s personal goals is to see her shoes on a woman who may soon become the next British princess. “I love Meghan Markle,” she said. “She’s effortlessly elegant, a perfect match for a pair of statement shoes.”