Emanuele Briganti for the first time shares the story of GuidoMaggi luxury elevator shoes
How did you get into fashion? Please, share with our audience the key moments of your career? Emanuele: Fashion has been part of me throughout my entire adult life. I started as a fashion model very early on, working as a model for Giorgio Armani among others and having many amazing experiences such as winning the Las Vegas Fashion awards. This is a period of my life that I enjoyed very much because fashion is something that I am very passionate about.
I was never a very tall man, so at 1.75 tall that was an issue for me to be a runway model so I was in a way limited to photoshoots, since in high end fashion all models need to be 48 long and I was 48 regular. My mind was constantly thinking of ways to change this, and this is how the idea of creating a bespoke elevator shoe brand started popping up in my head. Shoemaking is something that has been in our family tradition for centuries, since my great-grandfather, Guido Maggi was an expert shoe maker who created pieces for the wealthiest people in Italy and the royalty, so this idea came very naturally to me. The elevator shoes available were mostly made in China and the quality was terrible, just as it is now, so I realized that there was not a high end alternative in the market for those who wanted to walk in style while gaining a few inches in height, that is when my brand started taking shape.
Emanuele Briganti with Giorgio Armani
How did you come up with an idea of Guido Maggi elevator shoes? Emanuele: As I mentioned earlier, it was a bit of a combination of factors: On one hand, the tradition of making luxury bespoke shoes has been part of my family for very long time, so it was something that started naturally. On the other hand, the focus on the elevator shoes was a consequence of my search for a way to be taller and have more opportunities to work as a catwalk model. Where the name Guido Maggi comes from? Emanuele: I took of the name of my greatgrandfather, Guido Maggi, who was a pioneer in the luxury shoe making niche, and created shoes for the most accomplished gentlemen at the time and for the italian royal family. You used to be a flight attendant, was it difficult to transition into the fashion industry and immediately launching your own business with no previous experience in fashion and brand management? Emanuele: Before I started my company there was a period of time in which I was a flight attendant for both large airline and private jets. This worked in an interesting way for me, because it allowed me to know a lot of people involved in different businesses all over the world, including fashion. This was not only a very rich experience at a personal level but also made my transition to actually creating a fashion brand a lot smoother. This is obviously not an easy move, specially given that I did not have large investment funds at the time, but interestingly enough that worked as a catalyst that estimulated my creative and entrepreneurial side to a level that I had never experienced before. This is what ultimately allowed me to succeed in creating a brand that was unique in its market.
Emanuele Briganti at GuidoMaggi flagship store in Zurich in 2020
Do you think innovative products are the future of the fashion industry? Why? Emanuele: Yes, absolutely. Innovation is what sets the new standards. In fashion, particularly we are presented with a unique an interesting challenge: to strive with constant innovation while preserving something that seems complete opposite to it, which is tradition. This is fundamental to achieving success in today's fashion: tradition as the force that has driven luxury good since very old times combined with the innovation that the 21th century requires. It is definitely a challenge that we must work hard to be up to, pushing creativity and forward thinking to the limit. Do you think shoes, other accessories, or clothing can be the ultimate confidence-boosting tool? Emanuele: I always say that we produce height through the creation of unique, beautiful handmade shoes, so from this point of view I definitely think that they represent a key element in boosting people's confidence, not only because they make us taller but also because they help adjust our body proportions. This does not only apply to people who are short but also to tall people who need to balance their proportions. What is most important though is that the only way to achieve true confidence is through unique designs that reflect an exclusive style, otherwise we would not be effective in reflecting a true sense of style.
What is the most difficult aspect of managing your own brand?
Emanuele: It is not an easy business to manage, because as a bespoke manufacturer we have to balance our stock not only based on demand but also considering that we don't mass produce so we need to carefully select our suppliers. The second challenging part is of course the constant need to be innovative and creative, always pushing to be one step ahead of the current trends, but this can be considered a pleasure as well since it is an aspect of what we do that I really enjoy. Creating disruptive and original pieces every day is something that our team thrives on. What is your take on sustainable fashion? Emanuele: I strongly believe in the concept of sustainable fashion. For this to succeed though it cannot be a single effort but a chain event, where every link is part of this culture. Using only vegetable tanned leathers for example is something that we have done from the very beginning, it is just one of many steps that contribute to a more balance and minded use of the resources that we have at hand. Making sure that our people work in an exciting and fulfilling environment is also part of what I consider a sustainable industry. Are there any tips you would give those who want to work in fashion and build their own brand? Emanuele: I believe that the one ingredient that cannot be missing from anybody who has the dream of succeeding in this business is passion for what they do. This is the number one requirement because without it it would not be possible to stand out from the rough competition in this business today. Aside from passion then there is resilience of course, because specially in the beginning challenges are faced constantly and only those with strong will power can overcome those hurdles and continue the growth process. Eventually those who have the passion and fight hard to succeed in this business will see the results if they stay in their path long enough. Considering the current worldwide emergency, what is your view on what to expect in the immediate, and not so immediate, future? Emanuele: Covid-19 virus has affected all of us since consumer behavior changed radically as a result of it, and the excitment that drives fashion purchases has been diminished after so many months of restrictions. Travel also stopped pretty much completely so the impact was not only felt online but also in our showrooms like Milan. We feel that as difficult as this period has been, it also represents to an opportunity to be part of a new beginning in many ways, and it only increased our energy and efforts to provide the best and most exclusive elevator shoes in the world today more than ever. How the COVID-19 pandemic influenced your business? Emanuele: As I mentioned above we were negatively affected of course, and affected not only our physical showrooms but also our online business. I consider this a moment of change that also involves consumers appreciating more than ever products that aren't mass produced and focusing their interest on unique creations that are a reflection of their personality and uniqueness. What is the future of the fashion industry in the post-COVID-19 period? Emanuele: I see a sort of a reinaissance of the fashion industry, as I mentioned above I believe that after this rough period in history consumers will depart from the mass produced concept and shift to more sustainable, niche products that suit their needs and highlight their unique style. What digital technologies are influencing the fashion industry the most? Emanuele: Digital technologies are part of our reality today and they will continue to be for the near and far future. This unexpected pandemic only made this more clear, pushing consumers more than ever to browse and shop online, so as a company our goal is to make our customer experience as seamless and exciting as possible since this is what our clients expect. What future do you predict for independent fashion brands? How should they build their communication to get noticed? Emanuele: I believe independent fashion brands are in one of the best moments historically to succeed in this market, however only those who show true passion for the products that they develop and are able to push the limits of creativity will be able to be relevant.