MILAN–“I like the idea of suggesting that people can be elegant in every moment of their lives. I hope to inspire an idea of elegance and quality that can be defined with the choice of extravagant fabrics or plain and timeless ones,” said Cecilia Bringheli founder of CB Made in Italy, a Milan-based label that makes designer loafers and accessories for jetsetters looking for comfortable, fashion-forward morning-to-night footwear.
A true role model for small, artisan-minded Italian businesses, Bringheli has built her brand on values rooted in a deep sense of family and craftsmanship. The 29-year-old, who once worked in PR, got a kick-start from her brother Lorenzo, a photographer. Since then, her no-fuss loafers over the past few years, have been the toast of Italy’s most fashionable taste makers: from Vogue Italia’s Franca Sozzani to Lapo Elkann. Brigheli has achieved success largely her own without a publicist or a firm backing her. Unlike many artisans and micro fashion businesses, Bringheli has been able to her shoes internationally in stores like Nordstrom in the US, Isetan in Japan and Level Shoe District in Dubai, as well as her own e-commerce website.
BACO’s Editor-in-Chief visits CB Made in Italy’s showroom in Milan and asks Bringheli about her success.
SC: You come from a family of designers/creative people. How did that shape your decision to become a designer?
CB: My mother raised me with a natural inclination towards elegance and taste without the need to show off and this will always be my starting point. I’m inspired by so many things. Certainly since, I fell in love with and am now sharing my life with an art dealer, my understanding and interest in art, contemporary art, is growing at a high pace. I believe that growing up in Italy and being surrounded constantly by so much history and beauty must have also influenced my work.
SC: Why loafers?
CB: Because I felt I could never find flats, besides ballerinas, that could be elegant and feminine, yet practical for a modern woman who might walk out the door in the morning and come back home after dinner and a long day at the office. Therefore I drew initially for myself.
SC: How can a woman pull off the sartorial/unisex look without looking sloppy or too tomboy?
CB: I never really try to change anyone. I like to be chosen [as a brand] for quality and comfort.
SC: How would you describe the winter 2015/16 collection for ladies?
CB: With a kaleidoscope of new leathers & shapes, this collection explores the most important cities and many of the secret wonders of the world. Among the strongest influences, is the fascinating market in Marrakesh, which is full of spices and ethnic flavors. There is also the influence of an elegant sofa in a bourgeois living room in Paris, a relaxing walk around a Venetian landscape, a sparkling night in a sky bar in Beirut, a cool pool party in Saint-Tropez and a traditional Indian wedding dance.
SC: Who are some of the artisans that you work with and why?
CB: There are 10 artisans that work with Cb and we know every single artisan by their first name. We prefer to consider them artists. We strongly believe that our product is the best possible available in the world also because of the love that somehow is given to our product from these people. We would never accept the idea of producing in any country, especially one that does not respect human rights or employees underage workers. We think that respecting workers and paying them a fair salary is the base for a truly successful business and this might also help contributing to create a better world, even if this might be just a drop of water in the Ocean.
SC: Can you share some of the secrets of your success, especially in a way that could help other artisans that BACO supports?
CB: I work hard, especially because when you have a small company like mine, you have to care for every aspect, including numbers and smaller details so, my method, is to do one thing at the time and to love what I do.Our philosophy is pretty simple: always do everything to produce the best products possible, on a worldwide level. This means best leathers, components, as well as employing the best Italian craftsmen. So our philosophy is: do the best or do nothing.
SC: How have you been surprised in how your brand has spread through the internet globally?
Word of mouth has been our only advertising for many years, and we still cannot consider “advertising” our own pages on social networks (as we never pay for this services). We do not have any precise marketing in place, as our products are intended to be worn for a lifetime, on people ranging from there to 90 years old. Some of our first customers for example… let’s imagine a young pretty girl 20 year old, leaving happy with her slippers, and coming back with the mother the next day, then with her brother and father the following week.
SC: I love your instagram collage on your website.
CB: I am really glad you noticed us on Instagram! We are now a candidate for a prize for small brand communication that is also integrated with social networks, so this makes us proud!!!
We hope our images talk to people with good taste, who are elegant, possibly also polite and kind to others. This is how we aim to be and this is what we hope to get in our customers. Our mission to this world it’s to “pass the beauty,” while creating a product that is unbranded on the outside. This is why our slogan is: “Emotion has no signature”
WHERE TO BUY: http://cbmadeinitaly.com/stores/ www.cbmadeinitaly.com
AVERAGE PRICE: EUR375 to EUR725
HEADQUARTERS: Corso Garibaldi 50, Milan
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE: Blaze': A Blazer Revolution, CB Made in Italy’s Cecilia Bringheli, RACIL: Smoking the French Way, BACO STYLE: Lidia Pellecchia’s Sartorial Style , Female Sartorial Style: From the Atelier to the Runway , Puglia’s Tagliatore: Amping Up Women’s Wear