10 Questions for Cesare Casadei

The creative director is eyeing the U.S. as a key frontier for growth for his family's business.

Cesare Casadei

Cesare Casadei

Photo By Courtesy Photo

It’s been a family affair at Casadei for the past 50 years.

And that isn’t expected to change as the Italian company’s creative director, Cesare Casadei, eyes the global market and plans for expansion with new wholesale accounts and branded stores in the U.S.

“In past years, [we’ve been approached by firms] wanting to acquire us,” Casadei said of the company his parents, Quinto and Flora Casadei, founded in 1958 outside Bologna. “But we want to keep it in the family and enjoy the progress and growth we work so hard for.”

Since its inception, Casadei — known for its gem-embellished stilettos and towering platform pumps priced between $395 and $2,000 — has found success across Western Europe, Russia and the Middle East and is sold in more than 500 doors worldwide. The brand, which has recruited Georgina Goodman as a freelance designer, also operates 13 namesake shops across Italy and in Paris, Moscow and Dubai and plans to open a Middle East flagship in the coming year.

Now, Cesare Casadei, who took the helm of the company in 1994, is looking to the American market as he builds the company into a truly international brand. While it has had a presence in the U.S. before, Casadei last year made a concentrated push, picking up 50 new accounts.

And though plans for a shop on New York’s Madison Avenue have been put on hold due to the unstable economy, Casadei still intends to open the brand’s first U.S. door within the next five years. “It’s a big job, [but] important,” he said, noting the brand already has offices and a showroom in New York. “It’s in the Casadei DNA to be a worldwide brand, and the U.S. is one of the biggest markets.”

1. How has being born into a footwear family influenced the way you approach the business?

CC: I [basically] lived in the factory [growing up, and] my aim is to preserve the Casadei message my father carefully crafted. We continue to maintain the integrity of our original design, but we also strive to test new commercial strategies aimed at gradually expanding distribution, increasing global brand awareness and bringing the company to a new level.

2. As a second-generation Italian shoemaker, do you see yourself ever moving production outside Italy?

CC: We wouldn’t make our shoes in China or another country. We’re 100 percent made-in-Italy, and we want to keep the quality. We choose materials that cost more than others, but we try [to build] relationships with our partners to keep the prices steady and provide top quality.

3. What kind of concessions have you had to make to keep production in Italy?

CC: It is becoming more of a challenge to maintain the quality and integrity of our product while simultaneously keeping the product at a reasonable price. In order to meet this challenge, we are reevaluating our resource structure and exploring new resource partnerships in order to keep prices down and better our production costs.

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