Fashion 7c416ad685badb3e8c185f4ac90385cc
Why this favorite mall shoe brand is suddenly more stylish than ever

“When it comes to footwear, I’m always trying to push boundaries … because that is what inspires me every day,” Carla De Freitas, Via Spiga’s newly appointed creative director, tells us.

Though Via Spiga shoes have always been synonymous with quality, they’ve lately been associated more with discounted footwear found at outlet malls. Now De Freitas is aiming to elevate the 30-year-old brand back to its original glory with a collection of well-crafted Italian shoes made for the modern-day professional woman.

One of her first major moves toward that end? Bringing the brand’s manufacturing back to its roots, in Italy. After all, Via Spiga takes its name from one of the country’s most fashionable streets, Via della Spiga, in Milan.

“It just felt like a no-brainer,” she says, noting that although Via Spiga’s manufacturing isn’t entirely out of China yet, it’s already at about 70/30. “It brought us back to the people who first knew the brand. … There’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.”

Carla De Freitas, Via Spiga Creative Director. (Photo: Courtesy of Via Spiga)
Mohair slides in rich, vibrant colors like red, navy, and green from the new Via Spiga Fall 2017 collection. (Photo: Maxime Poiblanc)

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 of beige, black, and white. And silhouettes and styles have a new clean minimalism —an aesthetic that De Freitas knows well, having worked at high-fashion labels such as Alexander Wang and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen‘s line, Elizabeth and James, as well as commercial brands such as Vince and Topshop.

The new Via Spiga is where style and comfort effortlessly merge — an ethos carried over from its early days. To that end, De Freitas says she wants there to be two “aha” 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 collection’s stylistic highlights include supple leather slippers with metal details, leather zip-up boots, neoprene structured heels, and mohair slides — all equally suitable for being dressed up or down, for work or for that fabulous post-office dinner.

The new leather boots from Via Spiga’s Fall 2017 collection. (Photo: Maxime Poiblanc)

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 from $195 to $495, compared with $185 to $395 previously.

Still, when compared with Italian footwear brands like Valentino or Prada, the shoes can be viewed as a steal. “Sometimes I can’t believe we’re able to do what we do, to be honest,” De Freitas says, adding that it’s important for consumers to think about the production line as a whole, and the fact that there could, at times, be nearly 60 people working on a single pair of shoes. Via Spiga, then, could be seen as a great balance of price and luxury quality.

A close-up of Via Spiga’s new black leather boot being worked on at one of its Italian factories. (Photo: Neige Benedetti)

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. “For me, I’m all about authenticity, and I had to find something that I could connect with,” she says, adding that, interestingly, she often found herself drawing inspiration from Via Spiga while she was working at Vince.

An inside look into the process of how a shoe is made in one of Via Spiga’s Italian factories. (Photo: Neige Benedetti)

“I’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, it’s a great thing for me,” says the Scottish-born designer, adding, “I didn’t even plan to stay in America as long as I have. It was all meant to be. It is the American dream.”

The Via Spiga team testing out a few select shoes from the new collection. (Photo: Neige Benedetti)

The new Via Spiga Fall 2017 collection is available now online at viaspiga.com and select department stores and specialty boutiques.

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