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Meet the Creative Director Behind Celebrity-Favorite ATP Atelier

How Maj-La Pizzelli creates shoes beloved by Katie Holmes and Jaime King.

It’s no wonder Sweden-based ATP Atelier has a cult following. The brand is based on the Italian way of living and a philosophy it calls, smart luxury. “ATP Atelier has since day one been more of a lifestyle than anything else. It’s a mindset of enjoying the good things in life,” confirms Co-founder and Creative Director Maj-La Pizzelli. “It’s about knowing what you want and being confident enough to lay out your own path — an inclination to not follow short trends and find your own secret hideaways.”

The brand gets its special sauce Pizzelli, who was previously Product Director at iconic Scandi brand Filippa K for 13 years. From there, she went on to lead her own consulting firm where she taught other brands how to find success. And in 2011, she launched ATP Atelier with business partner Jonas Clason. Pizzelli sat down with Footwear Plus to discuss her brand ethos, inspiration, and the latest famous face to sport her designs.

What’s ATP Atelier’s background story?

ATP Atelier
ATP Atelier’s Maj-La Pizzelli

I have a burning passion for sustainability, which was one of the most important preconditions when starting my own brand, ATP Atelier, together with my business partner Jonas Clason. A majority of the brand’s selection of shoes and bags are made from vegetable tanned Vacchetta leather, and everything is handmade in Italy.

At the time in 2011, we saw a real gap in the market for an urban sandal. Jonas and I went on many vacations together in the south of Italy, as my husband is Italian. Every trip, the group got sandals to wear from local artisans. However, when we brought them home to Stockholm, they didn’t work in the big city, and never saw the light of day again. We loved the handicraft but felt like there was something missing from a design standpoint — something minimal and sleek that would feel relevant for more than one vacation, more than one season even.

What is your brand ethos?

Neither our brand or our business has ever been one to change and come up with something new for every season. We are who we are, and that’s kind of the beauty of it. I want to continue building our world of smart luxury and growing our community of women who want to invest rather than shop.

Sustainability is very important for me, but sustainability is not only about the environmental aspect of things. It’s also about the relationship we have with the pieces we bring into our lives — about not taking more than you give and really caring for your items, to make them last a lifetime.

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

From real women. From my friends, my family, and my team. These women, some Italian, some Scandinavian, are all very different, but at the same time oh so alike. They share an affinity for long-lasting pieces that are minimal but interesting, cool but understated, sexy but not too much.

Wearability, fit and comfort is also something that is top priority for me. We design for real women in their day-to-day lives. Our pieces need to be effortless and make the ATP Atelier woman’s life easier. We would never compromise on comfort or fit to accommodate for a specific trend or hype; it’s just not us. I guess that’s where our Scandinavian heritage really shines through, not only in the minimalism but also in the practical part of things.

What’s next for the brand?

We will focus a lot on the U.S. market going forward. ATP Atelier has grown substantially in the United States since our debut on Net-A-Porter in 2014. Notably, esteemed accounts such as Bergdorf Goodman, Nordstrom, and Fred Segal have been added to the portfolio in recent years, solidifying the company’s presence. The U.S. currently stands as the second-largest market for the brand.

Just the other month, the very New Yorkish girl Katie Holmes wore our Petina ballerina. Furthermore, ATP Atelier has achieved a remarkable 100% organic growth without relying on external funding. We are looking to open our own retail store in New York down the road, and we just did a pop-up in Nolita on Elizabeth Street a few weeks ago as a first step in meeting our community IRL.

Many of the concept stores we usually relied upon to present our brand stateside do not exist anymore, like The Line or Totokaelo. The pop-up was a huge success and we are looking to do similar projects going forward.

APT Atelier Petina Ballerina

What are some of your favorite trends of the moment?

I’m not a trendy person. I’m in touch with what’s going on in the industry, and I want to stay relevant, but I’m not interested in hype and short-term trends. We work with a lot of the same lasts and shapes, updating them slightly from season to season. What changes are the materials or the colors.

For example, we’ve been working a lot with harder structured bags for a few seasons. But right now, I’m gravitating much more towards softer suede bags. We have a few coming for Fall and Winter ’24 that I’m very excited about. For this high summer period that we are just now entering, the cut-out minimal sandal is and always will be relevant. I have a few ATP Atelier pairs, like Rosa and Alassio, that I always keep in our house in Puglia. What I do during this period is I change out the black for a color…This summer I’m wearing the merlot or the lemonade shades. I pair them, like always, with a caftan or a big crisp white shirt. Some things are just not meant to change.

What do you bring to the U.S. market?
I think we offer a unique approach to sustainability and smart luxury, as well as a Scandinavian minimalism and pragmatism. We combine this with a large dose of humor and personality, and I think this combo is what sets us apart. We don’t take ourselves too seriously.

The July 2024 Issue

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