Landed in shoe heaven: Italian Handmade Opificio V Shoes

Opificio Shoes - Vegan Italian Shoes - Designer Shoes - Italian Mens Boots

Ever since we saw Opificio V shoes online, we have not been able to get them off our minds. On a lovely sunny morning in Milan we hopped on a train to Tradate to meet the woman behind luxury Italian handcrafted vegan shoe brand Opificio V Milano and see them in-person. We were bubbling with excitement to hear the story behind this vegan shoes brand incepted in a country known for its leather craftsmanship.
After a 52 minutes ride, that seemed like forever, we were greeted by wonderful Paola Carraciolo, Founder Opificio V. Before taking us to her warehouse we made a short stop at a cafe where Paola treated us with a shot of true Italian vegan coffee which was indeed amazing!

During a quick chat at the cafe, the first thing we asked Paola was what led to the vegan change? She promptly replied, “I think that I was born with a particular feeling about this subject, even as a child I was very compassionate towards all living creatures. At the age of 20 I finally got my calling and turned vegan for ethical reasons. There is no particular event for this change…a normal evolution, like the butterfly that comes from the silkworm. Today I’m 37; I have a little girl of one year old whom I am trying to teach to have respect for all living creatures, hoping that in the future she will choose to continue with this philosophy.”

The topic quickly turned to Opificio V. Paola informed us that all Opificio V shoes are made in Italy in Marche, a region where the centuries’ old unrivalled art of crafting shoes has been passing on from generation to generation. She wants to preserve the heritage of fine shoe-making through thoughtfully designed and attentively crafted shoes. She says “I want to support an Italian sector currently in crisis due to many companies’ decisions to move production – or part of it – to markets where labor is cheaper.”

Armed with a degree in business administration and masters in luxury goods, Paola worked for 10 years as a marketing professional but her passion for shoes and a personal need to have quality cruelty-free shoes made her quit her job and start Opificio V.

We asked Paola if it is easy to get into the art of shoe making without a previous experience, on which she said “you can’t believe how difficult it is to design and construct shoes if you didn’t study it at university. There are so many things that need to be taken care of when designing a pair of shoes, which as a shoe buyer we don’t even know exist. For example there are so many techniques of making shoes and different materials need to be treated in different ways to get the desired results. Like the new tree tissue we are using in our latest line for vegan shoes has completely different stretch compared to vegan leather or linen”

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Through Opificio V Paola is attempting to create a 360 degree ethical fashion brand – cruelty free, eco friendly and fair trade in Italy! She is passionate about discovering, developing and using hi-tech sustainable materials for her shoes. She proudly tells us that her new collection features shoes made from vegan leather that is developed from BioPoly oils, a substance derived from natural renewable sources like cereals and vegetable seeds coming from ‘non-food’ agriculture. This material produces no CO2 emissions and is also waterproof, given it an edge over traditional leather. They don’t use petroleum based vegan leather used in the market because it does no good to the environment.

She gave us a full tour of her complete collection. From the softest vegan suede {you can’t believe its not real} to shiny quality leather and even the super comfortable biodegradable soles they use the finest quality materials and apparent quality workmanship to construct every shoe that will make any shoe connoisseur fall in love with them.

Opificio Shoes - Vegan Italian Shoes -Designer Shoes - Italian Mens Boots - Vegan Fashion

We were particularly smitten with wooden laser cut shoes for men from Opificio V latest shoes collection. They come in two colors – brown and black and are absolute work of art. On digging more about these beauties Paola told us, “we use real wood to make these shoes, which is first coupled with fabric through the use of a heat press, then scanned photographically, and finally micro-incised with a laser.” While Opificio V is known for its men’s shoes, they also have a beautiful capsule collection of women’s vegan shoes ranging from wedges to Chelsea boots, knee-high boots and stilettos.

In their attempt to save the planet and reduce the impact of their emissions, Opificio V Milano decided to join Zero Impact Web project through which the unavoidable emissions by the Company is compensated with the creations and protection of growing forest in Costa Rica. To reduce their carbon footprint, Opificio V also uses special courier services that is more eco-friendly.

As our meeting draws to an end, we quickly try on a pair of vegan boots and stilettos from the collection and absolutely love how comfortable and stylish these are. The lovely Paola agrees to get a pair custom-made to our size and we couldn’t be happier.

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