Doucal’s – The art of footwear craftsmanship
Italy’s expertise in leather craftsmanship is undeniable. But what is the special ingredient that makes Doucal’s shoes stand out from those of other brands?
The best of both worlds: Doucal’s combines the style and quality of classic British shoes with the craftsmanship of Italy. It’s an idea that founder Mario Giannini didn’t just come up with yesterday. Back in the late 60s the traditional company provided aristocratic clients with the highest quality leather shoes. “Food for the various popes were traditionally sourced from our area. Montegranaro, the city where Doucal’s was founded, can trace its origins back to antiquity and looks back on a rich history,” Creative Director Gianni Giannini tells us in an interview. To develop the collections, Giannini’s father regularly travelled to Northampton, learning everything he could about British cobbling skills, which back then dominated the European market, especially in the 1970s.
Doucal’s finest models, from Derbys to Richelieus down to ankle boots became famous all over Italy. Despite their visual source of inspiration, Doucal’s remains an Italian family-run company, strongly influenced in the second generation by siblings Gianni and Jerry. The brothers still live next door to each other and share the responsibilities: Jerry deals with marketing and distribution while Gianni looks after the design side of things. “Every handcrafted product from Doucal’s remains true to the traditions of the region, which have been passed on from father to son since 1973. The sophisticated design, choice of materials and details combine with the softness and lightness of the shoes,” explains Gianni Giannini.
Even shoes can fulfil the desire for comfort and protection.
In the current autumn/winter 2021/22 collections, this lightness meets first-class style, two aspects that represent nonchalance and freedom of movement. Businesswear is losing its rigid look, which used to be dominated by ties and grey suits, freeing itself from the outdated image. Traditional tailoring has been given a good dusting off and now ultralightweight rubber soles and technical details are bringing a modern feel to Doucal’s designs. It would seem that even shoes can fulfil the desire for comfort and protection that has become so important these past few years. This is why Doucal’s have chosen soft rubber to encase their traditional leather materials in classic models including Derbys, brogues and loafers, but especially Chelsea boots with a rounded toe. A new desire for freedom corresponds with the greater desire for outdoor shoes. With their autumn/winter 2021/22 collection, Doucal’s are celebrating their love of nature, highlighting special models like walking shoes and monkey boots that can also be worn on city streets.
All the steps in the shoe-making process are carried out by hand at Doucal’s.
It takes 100 different steps to make Doucal’s shoes and they are all carried out in the altitudinous village of Montegranaro in the province of Fermo. Each phase of production, from leather to quality control, is carried out within the company. To ensure the highest quality possible, each shoe needs at least two months to meet all the brand’s exacting requirements. While the leather is usually cut by laser with the help of gigantic machines, at Doucal’s all the steps in the shoemaking process are done by hand – from working on the uppers to dyeing, patinating, waxing and polishing. The handcrafted process can sometimes take several hours. “More important than the brand or product are our team and the pride they have in the work they do: for us, this is a fundamental value,” says Gianni Giannini. Doucal’s employees have known each other for years, usually living just a few kilometres from the production site and come to work by bike – no doubt some of them wearing Doucal’s themselves.
In order to be successful, it is more important than ever to not only have a good relationship with your staff but also your customers, strengthening trust and maintaining it. After all, if you are acquainted with quality when you are young, it is something you will pass on to your children and grandchildren. It’s a way of thinking about the brand that is passed on from generation to generation. At the same time, it’s still important to keep up with the times. But progress and heritage are not mutually exclusive, as is proven at Doucal’s. “Refined and sophisticated design is the key factor for the brand’s success. We want to revive the elegance of Italian craftsmanship in an innovative and modern way. Our goal is to create a link between tradition and innovation,” explains Gianni Giannini, looking optimistically toward the future.