Onward Luxury Group signs licensing agreement with Samuele Failli
Onward Luxury Group (OLG) is teaming up with a new face, emerging from the made in Italy movement: footwear designer Samuele Failli. The Japanese subsidiary has signed a licensing agreement for the production and distribution rights of the designer's high-end women's shoe line, which will allow him to accelerate its development.
The term of the contract has been set at five years with the possibility of developing other product categories such as bags, which is expected to be unveiled next season. The partnership is destined to evolve with a possible acquisition from OLG in the brand.
"I am very happy because this will allow me to focus more on designing. I won’t have to deal with distribution or production other than prototypes, which I can continue to follow closely," said Samuele Failli to FashionNetwork.com. He is associated with Exclusive, a high-end shoe specialist which has been running since the 1960s. Located in Castelfranco di Sopra, in the south of Florence, the shoemaker produces the brand’s collections and is also the supplier of OLG. With three partners, the designer launched his business, Esseffe, of which he holds 70% of shares.
The licensing agreement will also increase the visibility of the 41-year-old designer, who has doubled the number of resellers, from 30 to 60, since OLG started distributing his collection for Spring/Summer 2019. Previously managed through a Milan showroom, Failli will now benefit from Onward's four showrooms located in Milan, Paris, New York and Tokyo.
Samuele Failli has always been passionate about shoes, which he has devoted himself to for almost 20 years. After working for big fashion houses for a number of years, he took the plunge in 2016. Failli presented his first collection in the Fall/Winter of 2017-18, positioning himself in the same luxury segment as specialists such as Gianvito Rossi an Acquazzurra.
"With this first collection, I was aiming for 500 pairs, I sold 2,000," he added.
His experience is reflected in the design of his dizzying heels, which he is also able to make comfortable. Beyond being wearable, his super feminine shoes are appreciated for their originality, each displaying a detail that makes all the difference, but also for their timelessness.
"For me, the shoe has to be wonderful, even as an object. When a woman wears my shoes, she must feel ultra-beautiful with a wooh effect," he said.
He had no idea he was destined for footwear, however. The designer of Tuscan origin began with jewellery after his training in silver work at the Istituto d'Arte di Arezzo, Tuscany. During the process, he worked for three years for local jeweller Treemme.
"My mother was a seamstress, but I always loved shoes. I even display them in my library. I'm crazy about them! At 23, I ended up giving up jewellery to study in London at Central Saint Martins College. It was a fantastic experience. This is where I learned technique and another way to think more autonomously. You learn how to manage yourself like a small business. It changed my life,” he said.
Once he graduated, Failli spent a year at Tom Ford, then a year at Jimmy Choo, before being recalled to Italy by Prada, where he worked for seven years in the group's factories in Tuscany, learning the tricks of the trade.
"I did everything except Church! From Miu Miu, men and women, to Prada (women) and Azzedine Alaïa. Heels, cuts, shapes, soles, model making, I learned everything. That was my real school," he said.
But he ended up yielding once again to the calls of London, returning to Tom Ford in 2011. The collaboration ended after a year and the designer moved to Paris to Yves Saint Laurent, which he again left after a year upon the arrival of Hedi Slimane.
It was then that he joined Azzedine Alaïa and worked for the Parisian firm until the designer’s passing in November 2017. It was precisely this event that encouraged Samuele Failli to go solo on this long journey. Always keeping busy, the designer has also been working since November 2016 for Valentino as design director for women's, men's and haute couture shoes.
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