#CNILux: Paul Andrew – Evolving The Footwear Wheel

As the first designer to be appointed at Salvatore Ferragamo since the eponymous founder’s death in 1960, Paul Andrew knows he has big shoes to fill. But through his illustrious experience – he counts Alexander McQueen, Narciso Rodriquez, Calvin Klein and Donna Karan among his many employers and collaborators – he is not so much reinventing the wheel, but making it relevant to a contemporary consumer.

“It’s less of a revolution more of an evolution,” Andrew said this morning. “It’s about introducing this amazing Italian brand – I call it a sleeping beauty – to a new generation.”

Andrew is taking his lead from Ferragamo himself (who famously studied anatomy in America in 1912 to make his shoes the most comfortable they could be) when it comes to this innovation, using fresh product, vibrant colour palettes and materials that harness innovation. He has, he said, already sent shoes to car companies to be galvanised; dyed suede three times for a brighter shade and a more durable finish than anyone else’s; and changed the entire fit of every shoe (“to the chagrin of some in the company”). His mantra for this approach is “high-tech, high-craft, high-touch”.

Not only a footwear maverick, but a good juggler, Andrew has, in addition to taking on the coveted Italian fashion house, maintained his own-name label which has grown strongly since its launch in 2013 and won him the CFDA Award in 2014. He does, however, have a mindful approach when it comes to managing the direction of a 90-year-old brand, and his own brand which is in its early stages.

“I’m taking it slow,” he said, referring to the development of e-commerce and further categories. “I’m conscious that one has to build a business at the right pace. I’ve seen so many designers trying to be so many things at once… and that gets very complicated. You need a tremendous amount of time, resources and frankly cash to manifest a lifestyle brand. It’s about pushing myself but pacing myself.”