If there is one brand that can inject some serious dazzle to your outfit, it’s the luxury Italian shoe brand René Caovilla.
Dressing women from the feet up since the 1950’s, their beautifully designed creations are like pieces of art to be admired and cherished. With a strong emphasis on quality and heritage, René Caovilla doesn’t need to try hard to convince their customers that they will possess the most fabulous and comfortable shoes with each purchase. But like with any luxury house, they are setting themselves new challenges to connect with their clients even more, while also expanding their world into jewellery and bags.
Leading the charge is the Creative Director is Edoardo Caovilla. Keeping a close eye on what other designers are doing in the market, he is determined to preserve René Caovilla’s DNA, while also looking at new ways to evolve the brand and store experience.
Below, he shares his ambitions for René Caovilla and advice for young shoe designers looking to enter the market.
How would you describe the brand DNA?
The DNA is really linked to the region where we come. The second aspect is that our design is recognisable. Nowadays, when women are getting more powerful and showing their character, shoes are one of the elements which women use to show power.
How has the brand transformed over the years?
Overall I’m very proud because we work a lot and I’ve been happy since the beginning about our DNA and image. Nowadays, its much more contemporary and in line with the needs of the customers. I hope the customer sees the huge respect for the heritage, tradition and habits of women around the world.
How do you balance heritage and innovation?
This is tough because you have to evolve and respect the past. At Gucci we have seen that you can be completely disruptive, on other hand you have Chanel which has a contemporary but stable direction. Im closer to Mr Karl’s idea for sure.
Women don’t compromise on accessories. When it comes to design process, what don’t you compromise on?
You always need to be ready to create something new and put elements together in a different way. On the other side, a good designer should have very strong technical skills. Shoes are the hardest and most difficult accessory to design because you really wear them, unlike bags.
What are the pressures of the industry you have to consider?
For me, there is a huge difference between fashion and luxury. All generations of Caovilla always tried to keep brand in a luxury sphere. Its important to give consistency to your customers as they want to find a signature in your collections. This means that in a certain way you feel comfort about having something strong that you need to renovate. It’s important to understand the needs of the customer. I don’t think they need more items, more shoes, more coats, but they need something to express themselves. The new generation are open to express themselves in the way they wear accessories and ready-to-wear.
What do you feel is important to a Middle Eastern costumer?
Customised products or capsule collection are always more welcomed in the Arab world, because exclusivity is part of luxury. The Middle Eastern customer is sophisticated, but comfort is also important. We also consider the evolution of the new generation in Middle East; Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi etc. The habits have transformed in last 20 years from very classic shoes to a very Western approach, there’s a nice balance today.
How important is the store experience in an era of e-commerce?
Shoe boutiques are intimate. It not the matter of money, it’s a matter of the kind of merchandise that is normally small, and this means that you have to put more attention into experiences. We are preparing the Venetian experience that we want to try to link to all of the five senses, a 360 experience. We are always trying to educate our costumers so they are more knowledgeable about the elements that go into making a great pair of shoes. We call it product learning project.
How do you see brand evolving in the future?
The list is very long. To be able to involve our costumer more in our environment and to create new categories of products like jewellery, and bags for sure. We want involve our costumer in the environment behind Caovilla. It’s not only about the shoes, its about the people. What is the heritage of the family? What is the history? Are you buying only shoes, or you are buying something more elevated than a pair of shoes? We try to arrive at a point when the costumer likes shoes, likes the product, but they also like the legacy, consistency of the family, the heritage, tradition, the way we live.
What is your advice for budding shoe designers?
One of the main aspects that a young designer must have is a very strong technical knowledge. If you don’t have knowledge and technical aspects, at a certain point you will face problems. You have to study your customer and speak in a really clear way to your customer. There’s nice research that says that Caovilla and Chanel are the two only brands that are able to speak and to be worn by various generations. Stay focused, study your customer and their traditions and understand why people are buying something and not other items, and be always open to learning new technical skills.
René Caovilla is located in the Dubai Mall Fashion Avenue