René Caovilla is one of the world’s oldest shoemakers. Founded in 1934 in the picturesque area of Fiesso D’Artico near Venice in Italy, Edoardo Caovilla (senior) opened a small workshop where he had a vision or making shoes that would make women dream. From the first illustration to the last stitch Caovilla made everything in-house by hand. He had a very unique and instantly recognizable style of shoemaking that consisted of elegant yet dazzling that would make a woman feel special.
Over the years, his vision has been shared through many generations. As the company grew and he began to work with more artisans it was crucial that they shared his passion and love for the shoes they produced and that the secrets of the house were passed down from generation to generation. Today this vision still exists. Under the guidance of a younger Edoardo Caovilla (the grandson of the founder), who was appointed as Creative Director in 2012, René Caovilla prides itself on creating handmade, unique, feminine shoe designs. Still produced in that same original factory in Italy, it takes an average of 48 hours to handcraft a pair of René Caovilla shoes, using the most skilled techniques in the world.
Since he took on the role in 2012 Edoardo has been taking the company from strength to strength, increasing its global awareness and presenting a top communication strategy that has seen the brand gain a huge following over the last eight years. However, one thing is clear, while technology and innovation are key to the development of the company, the heritage and skills of the workers is a treasure this brand must cherish forever. Here we discuss with Edoardo his passion for design, his love for his country and the legacy of his family.
What does Italy mean to you?
For me, Italy means belonging and pride. Italy is a country full of history, beauty, culture and creating things to show the rest of the world. Its cuisine, art, natural beauty and its people are truly one-of-a-kind. I’m proud to say, we are a country of passionate, resilient people and during these difficult days I’m more and more convinced of that.
Italy is, of course, a country that is very close to your heart – tell us more about the importance of “Made in Italy” and why do you think there is such a fascination with this concept globally?
I believe that what distinguishes a “Made in Italy” product from others is the ability to perceive within its every detail of the artisanal process. You will not only see the detail of the work but the cultural heritage behind it. Our culture is surrounded by history, art, fashion, good food, and a warm soul. History and creativity are the keywords to understand what Italy is all about.
How important is it to you to preserve traditional crafts and handmade techniques?
I think nowadays it’s a matter of mixing fashion culture, tradition and research with something new and innovative. Craftsmanship alone is not enough today. Making superb shoes is about more than a mere technique. It demands artistry, virtuosity, skill and an interpretive talent that only the truly great master artisans possess. Here, the manual artistry of embroidery happily coexists with leading-edge quality control, to guarantee that each pair of Caovilla shoes is a triumph of beauty and comfort.
What do you think Italy offers that is unique when it comes to craftsmanship?
What distinguishes an Italian luxury brand is an excellence that you find in the choice of materials, attention to details and the use of the best craftsmen that we have, combined with our cultural heritage. All of our shoes are handmade and made to the highest quality, in the most re ned way possible. This is what makes Caovilla and its Italian shoes more than unique.
How do you think the values and culture of Italy are seen throughout René Caovilla and tell us more about the values of the brand and how they connect with your values as a person?
Craftsmanship is for sure one of the core values of René Caovilla that we have in common with the Italian culture. Italy is a country of artisans, artists and passionate people who put their commitment and knowledge into creating wonderful works. I believe that this connection can be felt in every pair of shoes we create. In my family, art and the enhancement of beauty are two elements that have been transmitted for generations. I am sure that the luck of being born in Italy has made this connection even more strong.
How do you think the legacy and history of the brand is still relevant today?
I think that the history of a brand is essential because it allows you to know its DNA and fundamental values. These memories not only help us to understand the present but to look to the future with consciousness and awareness.
Italy has suffered greatly throughout the global pandemic we are currently experiencing – when all of this is over what do you expect to see from the recovery of this crisis?
I expect economic measures that will affect the whole Italian population. This moment is marking our country and the whole world, but many times we have been affected by history and never surrendered, and this time too, I am sure we will.
They say in every crisis there is always an opportunity – what is something positive that will come out of this situation?
On a social and human level, we will surely learn to appreciate the little moments and our everyday life a lot more. Freedoms that we have taken for granted will return to their original value. Talking about business, we will return to give the right value to the product, to all the sales channels but being aware that something has changed in the management of the markets.
When all of this is over will you be changing any of the strategies of the brand and has it had an impact on how you will move forward?
Something has already changed and we should all adapt our work to this new world. The key point is to understand the change and translate it into positive and constructive strategies that are more and more in line with the customer’s needs.
What escapism can René Caovilla bring to women during this time?
We have always tried to offer women something that makes them feel unique and special in their everyday life. I hope to do the same even in these dif cult times, offering small moments of escape and lightness.
Do you think the crisis will impact the buying behaviour of customers?
I think so. For a long period, we have had to close stores and depend more and more on online platforms, this will certainly change many purchase methods that will be increasingly diversified and versatile.
How are you spending your quarantine days?
By being with my family and trying to enjoy these little moments with them.
Looking forward, what does the second half of 2020 hold for Rene Caovilla?
We will certainly get back to work on all the outstanding projects and work on the upcoming initiatives with much more enthusiasm and positivity.
We want to talk about the upcoming fall/winter collection – what can you tell us about it?
In imagining and then designing a collection, I focus on understanding what our current clients want to feel. Elegance and sexiness always play a part, as well as strength, determination and comfort. The mix of these elements guides my thoughts in creative moments and I think it has been best embodied in the Fall Winter 2020-21 collection.
Growing up, what is your first memory of Italy?
Growing up in Italy made me collect a lot of beautiful memories in my country. Some of the best ones go back to my family farm in Siena, a beautiful XV century former convent that my father bought more than 40 years ago. There I celebrated my graduation, my wedding and spent some of the most significant moments of my life. It’s a magical place that I always keep in my heart.
Where in Italy do you like to travel to relax?
During summer, I love to escape to Sardinia. One of my other biggest passions is freediving and Sardinia offers some real breathtaking underwater scenes. There in the deep, I find ideas, shapes and colours that capture the spirit of nature.
At the moment all the travel plans I had organised are unfortunately on hold, but I have some trips planned to the UAE and Russia in the upcoming months. I love to travel abroad, whether it’s for vacation or business – travelling is one of the best ways to grow one’s cultural knowledge.
Can you share with us any Italian traditions that you to this day continue with your family and friends?
We as Italians we love to spend quality time with our family and gather all together at the table for big lunches and dinners. The most beautiful thing currently, and also very new to me, is having the privilege of enjoying more time with my beautiful family – my wife and our four children – having lunch and dinner together every day, listening to music and talking. The simplest moments are the most precious ones.
What’s your favourite Italian dish to eat?
I cook a lot and I like to do it with the help of my children. As a true Italian, I am a great cook and I have a lot of fun experimenting with different recipes! I have to say, my best recipes are sh dishes. I love to cook them the Mediterranean way, in the oven with some fresh herbs and cherry tomatoes!
What’s your favourite Italian phrase?
There is a phrase by Italo Calvino, an Italian writer of the second half of the 20th century, that I find contemporary. It says: “Take life lightly, that lightness is not superficiality, but gliding over things from above, not having boulders on your heart”. In a moment like the one we are currently living, where we must not be overwhelmed by discouragement, I think it’s truly important to project oneself positively towards the future.
How would you describe Italy in one word?
I would probably say charming. The culture, the landscape, the food, the traditions, the music, but also the people who live here are the real treasure of the entire nation. I don’t think that one word is enough to show the wonder of this country.