â€œWhen it comes to footwear, Iâ€™m always trying to push boundaries â€¦ because that is what inspires me every day,â€ Carla De Freitas, Via Spigaâ€™s newly appointed creative director, tellsÂ us.
Though Via SpigaÂ shoes have always been synonymous with quality, theyâ€™ve lately been associated more with discountedÂ footwearÂ found at outlet malls.Â Now De Freitas is aiming to elevate the 30-year-old brand back to its original glory withÂ a collection of well-crafted Italian shoesÂ made for the modern-day professional woman.
One of her first major moves toward that end? Bringing the brandâ€™s manufacturing back to its roots, in Italy. After all, Via Spiga takes its name from one of the countryâ€™s most fashionable streets, Via della Spiga, in Milan.
â€œIt just felt like a no-brainer,â€ she says, noting that althoughÂ Via Spigaâ€™s manufacturing isnâ€™t entirely out of China yet, itâ€™s already at about 70/30. â€œIt brought us back to the people who first knew the brand. â€¦ Thereâ€™s just a real warmth with everyone who worked on Via Spiga in Italy. They have a real connection. They have a great memory of what the brand was.â€
In her new Fall 2017 collection, out now, De Freitas incorporates luxury materials like supple Italian leather, buttery suede, and smooth calf-hair with the unexpected neoprene, allowing for more flexibility and comfort for the wearer. The range of hues includes rich burgundy and navy alongside a neutral color palette ofÂ beige, black, and white. And silhouettes and styles have a new clean minimalism â€”an aesthetic that De Freitas knowsÂ well, having worked atÂ high-fashion labels such asÂ Alexander WangÂ andÂ Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsenâ€˜s line,Â Elizabeth and James,Â as well as commercial brands such asÂ Vince andÂ Topshop.
The new Via Spiga is where style and comfort effortlessly merge â€” an ethos carried over from its early days. To that end, De FreitasÂ says she wants there to be two â€œahaâ€ moments for the consumer: First, when you fall in love with how the shoes look, and second, the thrill of how they feel when you put them on.
The collectionâ€™s stylistic highlights include supple leather slippers with metal details,Â leather zip-up boots, neoprene structured heels, and mohair slides â€” all equally suitable for being dressed up or down, for work or for that fabulous post-office dinner.
Moving manufacturing back to Italy has had one effect that may take consumers some getting used to: a higher price point than in the past, with shoes now ranging fromÂ $195 to $495, compared with $185 to $395Â previously.
Still, when compared withÂ Italian footwear brands like Valentino or Prada, the shoes can be viewed as a steal. â€œSometimes I canâ€™t believe weâ€™re able to do what we do, to be honest,â€ De Freitas says, adding that itâ€™s important for consumers to think about the production line as a whole, and the fact that thereÂ could, at times, be nearly 60 people working on a single pair of shoes.Â Via Spiga, then, could be seen as a great balance of price and luxury quality.
De Freitas says that becoming creative director at the brand was a full-circle moment for her, and the fulfillment of a big life goal. â€œFor me, Iâ€™m all about authenticity, and I had to find something that I could connect with,â€ she says, adding that, interestingly, she often found herself drawing inspiration from Via Spiga while she was working at Vince.
â€œIâ€™m very lucky to do what I do every day. And to be able to take a brand, and amazingly one that I connect with, itâ€™s a great thing for me,â€ says the Scottish-born designer, adding, â€œI didnâ€™t even plan to stay in America as long as I have. It was all meant to be. It is the American dream.â€
The new Via Spiga Fall 2017 collection is available now online at viaspiga.com and select department stores and specialty boutiques.