Etymologically marrying ‘yes’ in French, with American slang, ‘Ouigal’ is an Italian shoe brand with a laid-back, sunny attitude towards footwear. Founded by Martina Ferri Faggioli, the brand has been championed by the likes of Vogue Italia, and amassed a wealth of fans who are smitten with the bright colours and timeless design. The label has launched at a time when Italy, in spite of a turbulent economy, is enjoying a second wave of Italian design that is imbuing the ‘Made in Italy’ label with fresh energy.
As summer approaches, we caught up with Ferri Faggioli to talk about the origins of the label, being inspired by Italy and the enduring appeal of shoe design.
Culture Trip: How did you come to be involved with the brand?
Martina Ferri Faggioli: I met the company, Falca srl, five years ago circa when I was working as head designer for one of their other brands. I’m obsessed with wood bottoms and chunky heels and since, the company specialised in wood bottoms, we started this collaboration. The Ouigal project started in 2014 to with the idea to launch seventies inspired shoes with a French-California allure.
CT: What was it about shoes that you found exciting when starting out?
MFF: Shoes are an object of desire. I love heels because they are a symbol of femininity and they make us feel amazing, powerful and beautiful when we wear them. They’re also the most important part of any outfit.
CT: How have you found the experience of being part of an emerging business? What are the biggest challenges?
MFF: The most challenging part is designing a collection that can be appreciated in a different market. It is really hard to find a way to break through, but at the end I think that when you have a story to tell, that strong energy defines the brand, and then everything can grow in the right way.
CT: Why is colour such an important part of the design?
MFF: Colour is for Ouigal the mood of the collection; it defines the energy and the fun-allure that is the core of the brand.
CT: What was the inspiration for SS17?
MFF: The SS17 collection is as inspiring to a melancholy mood as a chilled evening in front of a breathtaking sunset. We have taken inspiration from this romantic atmosphere in our pastel and dusky suedes, whilst our metallic laminated leathers turn the city into a catwalk, and daring florals contrast in graphic shapes that resemble folk fabrics from South America.
CT: How do you want a woman to feel when wearing your shoes?
MFF: I like the idea of a woman who can wear a shoe from their breakfast coffee meeting till a fun girly night-out. We’re living in such a hectic world, whilst we love to be stylists, we’re also required to run around the city so comfort is a must. The goal for me is seeing one of our #ouigalovers wearing their favourite style whilst popping to the shops, in the office, on the bus, and at a live concert… maybe all in the same day!
CT: The aesthetic is very varied, is there a particular style you most enjoy working with?
MFF: I love the chunky heels. They remind me of the ’70s and you can stay comfy all day long.
CT: More generally speaking, what is the creative scene like in Italy right now? Is it a good time to be a new designer?
MFF: The Italian fashion industry constantly has an eye for emerging talent. We were very lucky to be selected by Vogue Italia and TheCorner.com in 2015 as their ‘emerging talent of the year’, which was an absolute honour. Italy provides young brands with great opportunities to meet important people within the fashion industry including interesting designers that will inspire them. I feel like people are starting to become more interested in small yet fun-looking brands rather than the major fashion houses. It’s a very exciting time to be in the industry.