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“All over Italy – even today, and in the cities as well as the poor villages – you will see cobblers sitting in their tiny stone rooms, surrounded by heaps of shoes all higgledy-piggledy, working crouched over their lasts under the beam from a naked electric-light bulb”. Thus wrote Salvatore Ferragamo in his autobiography, describing the country’s labour conditions at the beginning of the 20th century.



When Salvatore emigrated to the United States, where the footwear industry was expanding in leaps and bounds, he decided to remain faithful to the Italian handcrafting tradition, while integrating it with certain techniques borrowed from industrial production. Once he had returned to Italy and established himself in Florence, Ferragamo extended the concept of craftsmanship to uppers made with lace, embroidery and straw and heels covered with rhinestones, silver and metal, the result of the local craftsmen’s capable hands, whose work is known around the world for embodying the Italian culture of fine craftsmanship.
When production diversified beyond footwear to a wider range of products, the Ferragamo brand continued to uphold its heritage and preserve certain handcrafting techniques in its manufacturing processes, cultivating an eye to detail and a passion for its work, which have been key factors in its success.

Scarpe di lusso nascono a Firenze.
Settimana Incom issue no. 00555, 15 February 1951.
© Archivio Storico – Istituto Luce Cinecittà

Salvatore Ferragamo
with a worker, 1955.
© Archivio Foto Locchi Firenze

Salvatore Ferragamo
with a young apprentice
in the late Thirties.

Processing of a women’s shoe.