Walk in the Shoes of Giuseppe Zanotti

Giuseppe Zanotti

One of four models from this season’s collection

DA MAN: This season sees you collaborating with singer Zayn. How did the capsule collection start and what was the process like?
Giuseppe Zanotti: It’s very hard to define how it works exactly because it is more of an invisible process and empathy—it’s not only about design. His whole approach was contemporary and practical. It was interesting to work with him, as his thoughts and creative process became a new source of inspiration for me and for this capsule collection. Speaking of Zayn, he has a creative mind; he absorbs the energy from other environments, exactly like me. Creative people belong to the same world and they connect continuously, they “recognize” each other. Zayn is spontaneous; his music is soulful as well as his style is natural but with a provocative edge.

DA MAN: Speaking of which, can anybody become be a shoe designer? What does it take to be one?
Giuseppe Zanotti: I can’t exactly explain what it takes, as there are no rules or established codes. You have to imagine, to travel with your mind and live on different worlds at the same time—that’s how it works for me!

DA MAN: Moving on to something a bit more personal, what would you say are the craziest pair of men’s shoes you’ve ever made?
Giuseppe Zanotti: That’s not easy to answer. I’m thinking about a pair that I loved and that is iconic for the brand. I’m talking about Michael Jackson’s boots I made in collaboration with him for the “This Is It” tour of July 2009. Unfortunately, he died a month before the tour, and they have never been worn by anybody. Michael’s shoes had to be suitable for dancing: soft, comfortable, functional. But they also had to reflect the singer’s own determination and appeal. It took a lot to create but the result was astonishing! I also appreciated the chance to team up with G-Dragon—he’s so stylish and cool. I have been impressed by his attitude, truly. And even if it did not result in a crazy capsule collection, it represents a good result of both our personalities mixed together.

Giuseppe Zanotti

One of four models from this season’s collection

DA MAN: You mentioned how your creative process is “genderless and androgynous.” Will you eventually offer a complete range of menswear products?
Giuseppe Zanotti: I guess that androgyny could be one of the major leitmotifs for the following years, as I mentioned earlier. Also, versatility could be another strong element. By the way, I love to mix men’s and women’s elements together and to give them an overall urban mood. Basically, I will keep on offering men the perfect outfit, which would be suitable for all occasions and for all attitudes, whether they feel classically sophisticated, essential or simply trendy through my creations.

DA MAN: You have been in the business for a long time. How has your focus evolved across the years?
Giuseppe Zanotti: I’ve always focused on changing the things that I didn’t like in fashion and how it looked on women. I never worked to please or change the perspective of other stylists or what the market wanted. Every year is a new challenge for me and this gives me the strength to continue. Each collection is like making a movie. Women change so quickly and designers have to constantly follow their needs and desires and I am quite good at that. However, I am still young and I do not know how things will go.

DA MAN: As you have designed shoes for more than 30 years, what is the most important lesson you’ve learned in the business to suceed and to be able to creatively channel your inspiration?
Giuseppe Zanotti: I would say: Trust yourself, know who you want to design for, and have confidence in your work.
After years of working in the fashion industry, I’ve learnt that you need to be brave and a little bit reckless in this job; you need to take some risks as you do not always know with certainty whether what you are doing will be well received. You need to have faith to make your own decisions without the fear of making a mistake. This, at least, has been my experience so far.

Giuseppe Zanotti

Giuseppe Zanotti designing a shoe

DA MAN: Which man, dead or alive, do you think has the best shoe style in the world?
Giuseppe Zanotti: I would say anyone who wears my shoes, of course! [Laughs]

DA MAN: Lastly, since you’re also a former radio DJ, who is your most favorite singer (and song) of all time?
Giuseppe Zanotti: Actually I usually prefer a mix of soul and funky music, hip-hop and R&B. In my own playlist, I combine old and new music, melodic songs and hip-hop, original tracks and remixes by other DJs. I can’t really think to a specific song or a certain singer; I love music in general!

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