Sergio Rossi rediscovers the beauty of its heritage with a unique project that celebrates some of the brand’s most iconic shoe creations
With an incredible history spanning over 60 years, Sergio Rossi has a lot to look back on, but this luxury Italian brand is also planning for the future as it celebrates its heritage and DNA with a project that brings together the old and the new. Under the guidance of CEO Riccardo Sciutto, Sergio Rossi has a new motto; “think heritage, play digital” as it starts a new chapter that focuses on the company’s most genuine values of cult craftsmanship and devotion to tradition.
“Since the very beginning of our industrial activities, we focused all our efforts on shape: a key element of the shoe… After the shape, the other two important components completing the structure of a successful shoe are: style and quality. Once the three ingredients are perfectly dened, success is just a simple and logical consequence”.
Sergio Rossi, 1988
The Living Heritage project, which celebrates the history, Sergio Rossi, while embracing its position today, plays a key role in reviving the brand. Through recovering its history and heritage, Sergio Rossi has found a new inspiration for the creative and manufacturing processes. Through detailed research, the brand was able to create a physical and digital archive which has become the ongoing inspiration and a source of creativity for Sergio Rossi, allowing the shoemaker to share the memory of its founder and its history.
The history of the shoemaker is very closely linked to the history of San Mauro Pascoli. This small village in Emilia Romagna in Northern Italy was in a region that became known for its footwear industry after World War Two. The success of local cobblers working around villages and farms meant people travelled from all across the world to experience this traditional Italian craft which soon overtook farming as the most popular industry in the region. Soon, San Mauro Pascoli became a large crafts centre that specialised in the making of sandals. This signalled the beginning of high-end women’s footwear being made in the village. The industry grew and grew, with the first industrial-sized shoe factory; Mir Mar opening in 1958. Around the same time, Sergio Rossi took over his father’s shoemaking business and began to develop this family brand into what we know it as today.
Under the guidance of new CEO Riccardo Sciutto, in 2017 Sergio Rossi began looking back at this history. This was done through analysing the heritage and sourcing original shoe models and other accessories produced by the house over a sixty-year period, some dating back as far as the 1940s. The Italian shoe manufacturer restored, photographed, stored and catalogued some 3,250 vintage pairs and now there are 6,000 shoes and other accessories archived in a specially dedicated space at the brand’s new manufacturer in San Mauro Pascoli. At the same time over two thousand documents – drawings, lookbooks, advertising and editorial images – have been recovered and digitised. This project became known as The Living Heritage.
The Living Heritage was imagined in collaboration with the Beyond Heritage team, which allowed for the creation of a physical Historic Archive (product and iconography), a digital platform dedicated to product history and the brand’s image, and an exhibition showing for the first time, the history of Sergio Rossi along a functional and emotional path. Visitors to the exhibition will be guided through an immersive experience in order to offer an interpretation of the world and the style of Sergio Rossi.
“To go back to the origins in a modern way, we worked on the product and spotlighted our historical assets, such as the San Mauro Pascoli factory, where our production is located, and this allows us to be quick and responsive towards the changing demands of the market.”
Riccardo Sciutto, CEO of the Sergio Rossi Group
The exhibition is split into three categories. The first, The Gallery of Lasts, discovers the history of the brand reinterpreted through its distinguishing element: the last – a crucial wooden shape that takes shape during the development of a new shoe creation.
The Living Archive is the heart of the project, where the vintage collection is conserved – but mainly a “living” area for consultation, research and work. In a custom-designed space visitors will find some of the most iconic shoes and packaging of Sergio Rossi’s history. The selection of styles does not follow chronological order but rather spotlights the values at the base of Sergio Rossi’s success: creativity and material research, imagination and innovation, attention towards shape and top quality. The drawers preserve the so-called “semi-finished” products and, specifically, the heel collection as well as the rich sampling of embroidery on fabric and leather, conserved over the years with passion and voluntary dedication, by the craftspeople.
The Living Emotions section is an area with a strong visual and emotional impact showing the most iconic models and themes that have always represented the different aspects of the brand. Thi is where the world of Sergio Rossi can be experienced. The beauty of the models is displayed, leading the visitor to discover the identity of the brand – interacting with the varying shapes and materials that reveal four themes. A wall projection lets visitors discover and relive the most beautiful advertising shots and fashion shoots by famous photographers from the 60s to today and introduces the latest theme, which is also at the base of the Heritage project, namely the “Rebirth” of the brand.
Sergio Rossi’s current collections return to the brand’s essence by examining the archive and the brand’s pure DNA all the while restyling products according to contemporary codes. The recently introduced sr1 collection is the symbol of a new beginning, an act of devotion to brand’s heritage projected into the future.
“Today the most important thing we are all looking for is an emotional connection and a chance to experience the lifestyle behind the brands we love. This is why I am so keen at Sergio Rossi on creating real Moments Of Wonder in everything we do. It is crucial to stay true to the DNA of the brand and to the vision of its founder, which has historically always been very close to what a woman really needs and wants, with a product designed for the woman of today.”
Riccardo Sciutto, CEO of the Sergio Rossi Group.