You have to seek him out on the factory floor, if you want to speak to Andrea Santoni. The company founder is standing in the packing department, wearing a white coat. He carefully lays pairs of black ladies’ boots on grey silk paper. Instinctively, he runs a final, critical eye over the leather and seams. Only a perfect shoe can bear the name of Santoni. “We didn’t make our name with a brand, but with quality,” explains Signor Santoni.
Andrea Santoni, 72, and his son Giuseppe, 42, now sell their elegant designs in the most exclusive shopping malls in Milan, New York, Moscow and Tokyo. Santoni senior learned his craft the traditional way, rising through the ranks. Andrea started out as a leather cutter, moving on to stitcher and was eventually promoted to the position of Production Manager in a major corporation. Then, in 1975, he and his wife Rosa founded their own company in the village of Corridonia, near Macerata and not far from central Italy’s Adriatic coast. His son is the corporate strategist. Giuseppe has developed the export side of the business and now serves as the company Chairman.
Most of the work in the factory is still carried out by hand. Four hundred people now work for Santoni in Corridonia. From the outset, Andrea Santoni and his company were rooted in the traditions of the region. In the early years, an older generation of highly skilled shoemakers from the surrounding area did all the exacting seam work. “Today we take on young people as trainee leather stitchers in our factory to ensure that this tradition does not die out,” explains Andrea Santoni. Two of the hallmarks of a Santoni shoe are the hand-sewn seams and the famous anticatura, the antique finish achieved by applying multiple coats of leather dye.