Stefano Bemer started his company in 1983 with a goal to create the perfect Italian shoe. Today, after years of commitment and craftsmanship, the brand has become one of Florentine’s most prestigious shoemakers. In fact, Bemer even trained Academy Award-winning actor Daniel Day Lewis in the art of shoemaking for ten months in his workshop.
To celebrate the brand’s exclusive launch at Goodman’s this month, we sat down with CEO Tommaso Melani, who took over the brand after Bemer’s passing in 2012. He discussed everything from his family’s history in leather making to the one pair of shoes he’d wear for the rest of his life. Read the full story below and shop Stefano Bemer in our Shoe Library on 1.
Bergdorf Goodman: Your family has a rich history in leather making. What was it like growing up surrounded by such a unique craft?
Tommaso Melani: It’s like growing up in any other business environment, except that craftsmanship and quality become so organic and “obvious” that, as you grow older, you are instinctively driven to and attracted to things and experiences that respect that heritage.
BG: How would you describe the footwear in three words?
TM: Rakish, masculine and subtle.
BG: Why did you feel Goodmans was the perfect fit for the exclusive launch?
TM: Goodmans represents the quintessential New York refined shopping experience and is a stronghold for quality and style in a market that’s more and more dominated by fast retail and mass productions.
BG: Can you describe how you grew your clientele in Italy and now on a global scale?
TM: The only way I know how to, which is to deliver what you promise and, if you can, exceed expectations. Word of mouth has been the beginning of Stefano Bemer’s notoriety and we have built upon that reputation and brought it to connoisseur around the world.
BG: If you could wear one pair of shoes for the rest of your life, which pair would it be?
TM: Can I say a pair of Stan Smith sneakers? (laughs) Otherwise, my all time favorite shoe is a medium brown oxford with a very nice patine. It’s an English shoe with an Italian twist!
BG: We hear you are an avid wine collector. Do you have a favorite bottle of wine and why?
TM: After much thinking, I’ll say Sassicaia because it really represents the spirit of my land, Tuscany, for the following reasons: It’s a winery that started after WWII and since the 80s, placed us on the map of prestigious wines. It’s a cabernet (in a region that for hundreds of years has gravitated around Sangiovese grapes), which demonstrates the courage to leave the beaten path and instead of being slaved by tradition, aiming to greatness on your own. Lastly, it amazes me each time I uncork one!