We are a husband and wife team, Kelly Steven Finn and Tracy Lalasz Finn, based in the United States, officially established in 2016. However our team also includes a group of amazing individuals based in the United States and in Italy, that all have a passion for art, fashion, craftsmanship and of course, shoes.
We started Alice d’Italia to solve a problem: How can you find shoes that are exactly what you want? That can mean different things to different people. For one of our founders it started as frustration with being unable to find boots that fit snugly around her calves. She started hunting for “custom” shoe companies… bespoke…cobblers… cordwainers – by the way, did you know people who make shoes are called cordwainers, not cobblers? There were plenty of options for men’s shoes, but nothing for women that could create a pair of boots or shoes that were completely custom. After all, you can go to a tailor to have a dress made from scratch – why not shoes? There were some great sites where you could customize an existing style with different colors and materials, but no options for actually customizing or creating the form or structure.
The next logical step in the search was to search online in Italian…obvious, right? Now, we were getting somewhere! But how to make that accessible? Can you go to Italy every time you want a pair of shoes made? (Well…if you want to we can help you with that – see Alice Experience.) For most of us, though, it’s not that simple.
As we worked to solve this we discovered a much bigger problem. One, it was hard to find these small magical places, and we soon learned why. We wanted to work with small factories and as we began to talk with them we learned that they are struggling to stay afloat. In one city, where there used to be over 120 factories in the 1980’s, there are now less than 15. The few that have persevered and stayed open struggle. Where some used to spend most of their time making small batches for some of the most recognizable luxury brands, the industry has shifted. Many luxury brands seem to have shifted their true focus from quality and passion to cost-control and profit, and much of this shift coincides with the consolidation of these brands under very large companies, mostly based outside of Italy. The model that allowed Italian luxury craftsmanship to flourish is dying and they must try different strategies to prevent this art from going extinct.
Our goal is to do our small part to change the model for our partners and customers. We created our seasonal collection to build a model that aligns the value we place on luxury Italian shoes with the craftsmanship that goes into creating the product. We do this by increasing the amount that the family shoe factories are paid for each pair in our collection and lowering the markup. We are effectively redistributing the price of each shoe to compensate the small family factories in a way that allows them to stay in business and flourish instead of struggling. We found that our dream of working with small family factories to create custom and bespoke shoes would be nearly impossible if most of the families were unable to sustain their businesses for much longer. If we can help in some small way to sustain this important family heritage of craftsmanship, along with our customers who care about who they are buying from, we can all share the joy of creating something beautiful.
We are your bridge to Italian shoemakers. We intend to change the world. Comewalk, run and dance with us.