Doucal’s feted its 50th anniversary this year with exhibitions in Milan and Florence, where it lauded its loafers in an historic Florentine garden.
Still a family-owned business after half a century, Doucal’s is enjoying a period of extended growth, and a growing international footprint.
“There are not many companies that managed to reach 50 years, in an honest, clean and realistic manner,” argues Gianni, the CEO of the business and son of the founder.
Their exhibition in Florence, with 10 pairs of shoes from six decades, also underlined that heels have gradually gotten smaller. Fashion changes, but Doucal’s has carefully kept its aesthetic – classy, classic but with a fresh twist. Ranging from some great Chelsea boots in 1973 and 1983 tasselled loafers, to brilliant two-tone 2003 spats, we hope they revive.
“We wanted to celebrate the half century through our product. We have a collection that we conserved. Shoes tell the story of how men have changed both aesthetically and physically, in terms of the foot size,” he added.
From their own records, Doucal’s have discovered that the average man’s foot has grown two centimetres longer, and two thirds of centimetres wider. The result, Gianni believes of men wearing lose, easy fit sneakers in their youth.
“We know this for sure from our lasts. It’s a huge change!” remarks Gianni.
Their exhibition in Florence also reinforced Doucal’s identity as an Italian brand with history. Bringing out the spirit of the house, with young artisans cutting, stitching and coloring shoes in various stages of production.
“Just as our ownership has passed to the second generation, so has a new generation of artisans arrived whose fathers and mothers worked for Doucal’s. So that passion for the product remains,” stressed Giannini.
Inside Pitti, Doucal’s took its traditional space in the Padiglione Centrale, the nerve-centre of the giant fashion salon. Testifying to the esteem in which Doucal’s is held in Italy, its booth is located opposite Brunello Cucinelli, the fastest growing high-end men’s tailoring brand on the peninsula.
After years when it created the footwear for brand like Yohji Yamamoto, Yves Saint Laurent and Giorgio Armani, in recent years Doucal’s has been careful to plough its own furrow of late.
“It’s been a wise decision to concentrate on our own brand. It has focused our energies,” added Gianni, who completed the week with an installation inside Corso Como, Milan’s hippest boutique.
Today, the brand has over 1,000 retail clients; along with Milan and Paris boutiques, and a franchise store in Dubai that opened in March. Looking ahead, he expects Doucal’s to achieve a 25% increase this year on 2022 revenues of €20 million.
“Dubai has begun very well, in a market where they love sandals and moccasins,” notes the CEO, who is also developing more corners in department stores.
“To my mind this old business model still works very well. They are spaces that attract huge numbers of people and give a brand great visibility. And, let’s be honest, the multi-brand stores are dying out, as the world is becoming mono brand in the hands of multinationals,” he concluded.
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