Italian Lessons

Renowned designer Gino Iozzi launches a new brand.

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Renowned designer Gino Iozzi launches a new brand.

THE BRAND’S FULL name may be Ginoiozzi Milano, a new collection of weatherproof women’s shoes and boots debuting for Fall ’12, but the name many industry people may recognize most is Gino Iozzi, the respected designer of Aquatalia for nearly two decades. Iozzi, who also helped craft classic looks for K Shoes and Clarks over the years, has entered into a partnership with Canadian footwear veterans Steve and Ron Sedlbauer, the executives behind Cougar Footwear, where he will be responsible for designing and manufacturing Ginoiozzi Milano, and the Sedlbauers will manage sales and distribution out of their Burlington, Ontario, headquarters.

“We have been friends with Gino for years and have always admired his amazing talents,” says Steve Sedlbauer. “Gino wanted to do a namesake label with the freedom to introduce a younger, more fashion-forward design aesthetic, and we couldn’t be happier in making that vision become a reality.”

Ginoiozzi Milano is described as “high-fashion footwear with a young attitude.” While designed with women of all ages in mind, the brand’s appeal is to those with a youthful, sophisticated fashion sense and a passion for innovative design details. The collection’s immediate signifier, Sedlbauer notes, is the fine Italian leathers, including calf, patent and suede. From there, Iozzi incorporates high-shine, antique finishes and hand-brushed leathers that give the shoes his well-known artisan feel. “You don’t see this type of design elsewhere,” Sedlbauer notes, adding the line will be made in Italy. “It’s classic with an edgy twist that make this collection unique.” Adds Iozzi, “The great appeal of it is in the details. First, our customer will be drawn to the overall style, but it is the unique details that will linger in her memory.”

The brand’s incorporation of comfort and weather-resistant featutes should also come to the attention of consumers, Sedlbauer believes. He cites the tailored brogues that feature a super- lightweight rubber compound outsole and a padded collar as one example. Other styles feature elasticized treatments to give the fashion a functional component. And—seeing as Iozzi is credited with being one of the first to introduce weather-resistant fashion footwear—the use of Dry, a lining to protect against cold temperatures and wet weather, should come as no surprise. Sedlbauer adds that, at the brand’s premium price range of $225 to $575, such features and benefits serve as reassurance on the customer’s investment. “Women will recognize and appreciate these added-value features for an investment of this level,” he says. “This way she gets both beautiful design and the comfort of knowing the shoes will withstand the elements.”

The debut Ginoiozzi Milano collection consists of nine groupings, each with three to six styles of boots, booties and shoes. Sedlbauer says distribution is aimed at better-grade department stores like Nordstrom, Saks, Bergdorf ’s and Neiman Marcus, as well as select boutiques. He adds that the timing is ideal to introduce a fresh alternative to the market. “Coming out of a difficult winter in terms of boot sales, now is the time to be looking for new brands and styles,” he offers. “It’s better to do a little testing while you can as opposed to when testing is all you might be doing.” —G.D.

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