MAIORANO blends art design leather
The Rome-based footwear designer was born & raised in the biggest en plein air museum of the world, which explains why his approach to art is so natural & instinctive.
His love for classical sculpture can be seen not only in his strong lines & minimalist vibes, but in his crafting process as well.
Maiorano designs are all about highlighting the value of Italian craftsmanship. Like an ode to his heritage, he endorses small family-run factories, nourishing a strong feature of Italian culture. As he witnesses every step of the production, he discovers the magic behind the human touch, giving his shoes that extra state-of-the-art feel.
By choosing this path, he also establishes his commitment to sustainability. Besides keeping every aspect of his process local, Maiorano pays special attention to his material of choice as well, working with Italian tanneries to make sure he gets the most sustainably produced leather.
The designer’s attachment to this material is obvious once you realize that Maiorano + Leather is a 🔥 combo. The material allows him to play with his favorite artsy elements: texture, color & structure -- which are the three pillars of his designs, obvs.
Now, with social distancing & all, he has time to perfect processes & refine his brand’s language, sparking an interest for new fields.
Everything you need to know about Maiorano is right here. Scroll down to get a piece of him.
So, Maiorano has been around for only two years but has already made some noise in the industry. What is it about your brand that captivated the new generation so fast?
My brand will celebrate two years this October. You know, we live in a world so open and connected that it's easy to get a flash of notoriety for simple reasons, whether justified or not. At the same time, you have to face the impact of massive competition and the only valid weapon is images that are narrative, authentic, and distinctive if possible. I believe, paradoxically, that my non-fashion background has been an upside for my path. Coming from a family of artists, I’ve always interpreted life from an artistic outlook -- and this way of living, ultimately my way of living, has manifested in every step taken and choice made. With my brand, I couldn’t function otherwise and the result is creating shoes through all the technical and crafting processes of fashion, but with distinct artistic conception and aesthetic. This particular approach, besides the collections themselves, has probably been a point of fascination toward my brand.
With your sculptural shoe design, you establish clear connections between art & fashion. How did your Italian roots influence you to create this atmosphere?
As an Italian born, raised, and living, I can admit that I live in a uniquely privileged environment. I am Roman and my city is one of the most evident symbols of our culture. This city is really an en plein air museum and it has always been an indispensable stop for many artists throughout the ages to study the roots of visual arts, and thereby the essence of beauty itself. The patterns you can find here, the shapes and the harmony… They have certainly had an enormous yet natural influence on my work. They still do.
You talk a lot about the art of sculpture. What is it about this field that inspired you to gravitate toward clean & minimalist design?
In the previous question, I was referring to my artistic approach. I think sculpture, and art in general, in a very natural and instinctive way, is the mere expression of our soul. It is a self-portrait, no matter which media you use. My way of dealing with art has always been decisively spontaneous. I never plan the structure and style of an art piece, there's simply a blank sheet of paper, a block of wood or canvas, and I do exactly what comes out in the moment. When I first approached shoe design, the moment I touched the paper, I immediately knew I was going to draw a sculpture or something very similar to a sculpture, because this was the exact natural way of dealing with it for me.
Regarding art and design, my honest thought is that the more I express my inner self, the more I actually know myself, and it will probably take a lifetime to know myself deeply. I discovered by designing shoes that my research is always more focused on depicting the essence of things. This is what I care about. Minimalism is obviously the ideal way of expressing that type of feeling, but it has defined limits. My next moves aim to go beyond those limits.
Your shoes represent quality & tradition, partly thanks to the craftsmanship of expert Italian artisans that collaborate with Maiorano. In what ways does the human touch enhance a product’s worth, in your opinion?
Another globally recognized aspect of the Italian culture is the value of our craftsmanship. I collaborate with expert artisans from the Marche area and their precious work is clearly essential to the final result. I have been watching and witnessing all the processes that lead to the realization of a pair of shoes, and there is certainly something magical in it. The real value of a handmade product is very simply its singularity, but this simplicity is also its specialty. Every piece will be slightly different and so unique. It is up to the consumer to understand and appreciate this.
The factories I know and have been working with are all family-run and have been doing this for generations. There is a sad truth that must be declared and is that these factories are slowly dying. The economic crisis, technological development, and their resulting social changes have had an enormous impact on this type of business. I strongly believe this is something we cannot allow, and the epochal moment we are all living in should make us rethink our values.
Not only craftsmanship makes your designs such luxurious goods, but they are also constructed with the finest of leathers. Why did you choose this material to bring your vision to life?
Leather is the best material to make shoes, and has been for centuries. It’s always been used and will probably be used for quite a long time. This is the primary reason for choosing leather as crafting material. Another reason is surely the vast availability of leather types you can find in the market, thanks to the constant research behind it, which Italy leads. I am always seeking the right one to best represent my concepts.
There's no match for leather when it comes to quality & durability, is there? How do you extract the best from this material in your crafting process?
First, there is the selection phase of the leather. I have my usual suppliers in Marche who have direct contact with tanneries from all over the country. I could spend quite a long time selecting leather. I love to touch it, I think the choice is not only visual but also tactile. The different surfaces, thickness, and feeling you get from it. Of course, the color marks a crucial point but it’s not everything. When the selection is done the ball passes to the artisan. The leather gets checked again and the shoe parts are cut only with the finest areas. During the crafting process it's important to take extreme care of the material, from beginning to end, when all the shoes are finally checked, cleaned, refined, and polished.
Now, leather is a much more sustainable material than people think. How do you combine your growing commitment to the industry & sustainability with your deep relationship with leather?
I believe we should all debunk the myth of leather as a non-sustainable material. Now, I haven’t been in the business for a long time but I can surely tell that sustainability is a meaningful concept that will have a major impact on our lives, especially after this dramatic period we're all living. I previously mentioned the family-run factories that carry this job path forward generation after generation. The reality of necessary sustainability is something quite new and will be the duty of artisans, especially younger ones, to adapt their work process to new techniques. I am available, as many other designers are, to share my commitment to artisans, creating a collaboration to improve the old processes and change the way we manage this industry. It's something I am working on and I hope to achieve as soon as possible. It surely is a priority for the future.
Your latest pieces were showstoppers. Could you describe the creative process behind your collab with Vejas & your SS20 collection a little bit?
I came in contact with Vejas in July of last year. He sent me an email just after the beautiful experience of the Who Is On Next? contest organized by Vogue, in which I had the honor to be recognized for my Spring/Summer 2020 collection, and he proposed a collaboration. We worked at a distance, sharing inspirations and designs until we came up with definitive models, then I followed the crafting process of the shoes. I had the pleasure to meet him in Paris last October in his showroom, where I got to see his wonderful clothes in person. Our collab had some quite good success so we decided to continue with a second one for his AW20, which came out just before the outbreak of COVID-19 in Europe. Vejas' approach to design is very interesting, I personally admire it and I surely hope to continue our collaboration in the future.
Regarding my SS20, it was designed starting from the metallic mirrored leather, which is the core of the whole collection. It’s all about gold and silver, with a highlight of copper. The concept is based on those “liquid” shapes, very sinuous and soft, totally not intrusive but prominent at the same time. Light is definitely the main character of this collection, the shine and vibrancy of colors combined with the cleanliness of shapes and the organic nature of wood.
When it comes to collabs & new releases, what should we expect from Maiorano?
Since everything is paused due to the global pandemic, we have been forced to reevaluate all our work. In the last weeks, I have been totally focused on my design, trying to analyze it in-depth and develop an enhanced version of it. I am pushing my research beyond what I'm used to making and seeing, trying to define a renewed language. I shouldn’t reveal too much about what’s coming next since it’s in a primary stage, but I am also working on a men's line of shoes for the brand. You should expect a challenging project, slightly different in the aesthetics, definitely more deeply based on art and absolutely more evolved.
Now, let’s talk about classical art. Who is your favorite artist and how did he/she inspire you to pursue this career?
Personally, I don't like to pick favorites or make rankings. There are lots of works that I like in every field. Lately, I am totally rediscovering the beauty of Pre-Classical art, which is very much connected to the aesthetics research I'm working on, and its incredible link with other modern fields from sculpture to architecture. Going back to the beginning of my path, if I had to pick a prominent inspiring artist, I would probably say Henry Moore. I remember studying so many of his works when first defining the brand DNA and he eventually had a great impact on my vision. I still have one of his quotes on my pinboard.
We can’t get enough of Maiorano. Keep ‘em coming.
& if you can’t get enough of [metcha originals] either, come on over.