It’s a not-so-secret secret that Salvatore Ferragamo doesn’t often lie on the cutting edge of fashion, despite positioning itself as a fashion brand. The Italian brand has a rich history of leather craftsmanship — and even more so, in footwear — but that hasn’t always translated to the more fickle world of fashion, where tastes have always been fleeting, but increasingly so in the Instagram age.
This season, however, the brand feels like it’s fitting right in. At its fall ’20 runway show during Milan Fashion Week, British-born creative director Paul Andrew presented a collection that struck all the notes of what the season is shaping up to be, with ready-to-wear, footwear and accessories that were sophisticated but also sensual and tactile.
That’s thanks in large part to the heavy use of leather in the brand’s pieces, both for ready-to-wear and accessories. Leather — both real and vegan — and the slickness of its look are decidedly on trend, especially in pieces like trench coats, paper bag-waisted trousers and plush bags.
Ferragamo had all of these pieces for fall ’20 and Andrew did them in a color palette that’s already a big hit in street style: black, olive, burgundy, gray, plus shades of brown that have suddenly seemed appealing to all. Footwear included a strong showing of neutral leather boots, in both loose pleated knee silhouettes and a skintight version that appeared to be thigh-high but was later revealed to have leggings attached. The bags were luscious, especially an intricately woven black tote with a netted look and an olive green shoulder style.
These colors, textures and shapes may be on trend right now, but it’s not revolutionary for Ferragamo. Nor is it for Andrew, who has been with the brand since 2016 when he was named design director of women’s footwear. He now has a deft understanding of the brand’s design codes, and his ability to navigate them has earned him a few promotions, including the top creative position last year.
Ferragamo has a strong DNA of leather craftsmanship and shoemaking and Andrew knows how to honor both of them. He’s also been trying to attract a new generation of customers to the brand, and at the men’s fall ’20 show in January, he pondered the millennial man’s tendency to take risks and mix and match.
Andrew seems to be moving the needle in women’s ready-to-wear, too, but it would be even nicer to see his impeccable footwear skills put to better use in Ferragamo’s runway collections. The legging boots were a fun novelty but not something that’s commercially viable. Making modern, exciting, wearable footwear for the brand — something that feels fresher than the Viva flat — might mean relying less on its vast archives and a little more on Andrew’s own mind.