Arianna Casadei, head of marketing at her family’s namesake brand, Casadei, has her eyes set on the future of retail and technology. The 60-year-old, Milan-based luxury footwear business, which was started by her grandfather, has made a name for itself through its design and craftsmanship. And its “Blade” heel style has become well-known among footwear fans.
“From a craftsmanship perspective, [the Blade heel] is so interesting, because heels are usually made of plastic, while here you have a stainless steel heel sole within it,” Casadei said on the latest episode of the Glossy Podcast. “With all of the trials they did throughout six months — the whole team was restlessly trying and trying, day in day out [to create the perfect heel] — when it came alive, it was like winning a championship or something.”
This year, Casadei is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the “Blade,” which has been a bestseller since its inception. As part of the celebration, Casadei released a limited-edition wearable NFT, a first for the company. To develop it, the company partnered with web3 firm Another1, and it launched the NFT on Decentraland in September.
Another area of growth for the brand has been through physical retail. Currently, Casadei has two brick-and-mortar stores in Italy and one in the U.K. And with the U.S. being a large online market for the brand, there are plans to expand its physical footprint to the states very soon.
“We want to grow, from an omnichannel [perspective]. And we’re looking at possible solutions [for providing] localized stock [in the U.S.],” Casadei said. “[That way] we could work with several different partners in a faster way. That will open some doors [for us].”
Below are additional highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity.
Taking an Italian story around the world
“I’m very proud of the heritage and all the people that work with us. We have guys who are my age and have been with us since they were 18. So the essence of the ‘Made in Italy’ [premise] is built up on that. To expand this family story, we’re looking to the Middle East. The U.S. market is also something that we’re looking into very much. We are trying to find new solutions to get into China in more in-depth distribution because, due to Covid, this situation has been tricky.”
Experimentation and innovation
“We are experimenting a lot with the chunky and rubber soles. When my father started his career as a creative person wanting to play with rubber, that didn’t sit well with my granddad. But sneakers are [now] 35% of our business. … We love to experiment and put our creativity to work, season by season, and keep an open mind.”