History of Salvatore Ferragamo

Salvatore Ferragamo today, has formed an enviable luxury goods empire, yet it’s those stunning shoes that pop up in our minds at the brand’s mention. Marilyn Monroe was known to have a penchant for the Ferragamo shoes and why not? Haute, alluring and undeniably the most beautiful shoes have been designed and presented by Ferragamo over the years. The label was named after its founder whose legacy continues to thrive even today. Let us have a look at the evolution of this house which today is an epitome of fashion.

The Beginning

Salvatore Ferragamo was a novice Italian shoe designer who began his career as an apprentice to a shoemaker. With a vision to create and produce the world’s most beautiful shoes, he began his journey to fame by opening a humble repair and made-to-measure shoe shop first in Bonito, Italy and later Santa Barbara. The first major step that helped him propel towards becoming a renowned souter was opening the Hollywood Boot Shop in Boulevard las Palmas, in 1923. The socialites of that era were regulars at his shop.

After honing his skills for thirteen years in the United States, Salvatore returned to his homeland in 1927. This year saw the creation of the Salvatore Ferragamo company based out of Florence, Italy focused on the study, creation of women’s footwear. It was during this period that the first advertisement campaign and brand logo was created by the futuristic artist Lucio Venna. The next big step for the brand was in 1938 when the first directly-operated store (DOS) was inaugurated in Rome and Florence and then in London.

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Making an identity

In 1947, Ferragamo received the Neiman Marcus Award for the “invisible” sandal, which was one of his contemporary works. The very next year he opened the first Ferragamo store in New York. Salvatore soon designed his very first bag in 1949. The Salvatore Ferragamo women bags are viewed as a symbol of status among the haut monde today. Ferragamo scarves emerged in the year 1955. The Florentine painters designed the first set of silk scarves for the brand. The popular Gancino accessory first appeared in a bag created by Ferragamo in 1958. This ‘hook’ has become an identity of the brand today.

Ferragamo passed away in 1960 and company was taken over by Wanda Ferragamo, his wife, who played a significant role in the brand’s evolution.

Branching out

In 1965, the house premiered leather goods and ready to wear apparel collection designed especially for women by Giovanna Gentile Ferragamo. Simultaneously, the company began the production of Salvatore Ferragamo bags, headed by Fiamma di San Giuliano Ferragamo. In 1967, Fiamma bagged another Neiman Marcus award for her creativity in footwear.  The 1970s saw the company diversify into men’s clothing and footwear as well. Carving its way through the world’s history, Ferragamo stores were opened for the first time in Japan and in South Korea, in the ’90s.

history salvatore ferragamo
Photo credit – Sorbis / Shutterstock.com

The acclaimed Salvatore Ferragamo Museum in Florence was inaugurated in 1995. This was followed by the introduction of the Ferragamo eyewear when the company contracted with Luxottica. This period also saw the launch of the iconic Ferragamo fragrances, Salvatore Ferragamo Pour Femme and Salvatore Ferragamo Pour Homme. With the success of the fragrance line, the company branched out a separate division to maintain its own fragrance line. The house signed a contract with Timex Group to create high-end timepieces which were launched at Baselworld, the world’s most prestigious watch and jewellery fair.

Today the Ferragamo house creates various luxury products including women’s bags, wallets, clutches, clothing, perfume and of course women’s shoes. It is now an empire of luxury goods with never ending choice of luxury products for men and women alike.

Swati Talwar

Global Content and India Office Head

Seasoned lover of the written word. Travel junkie and Hogwarts alumni. Currently composing notes for the upcoming fashion week. You can also call me Licorne Magique (don't ask me why!).

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