“My family is originally from Vigevano, the main centre of Italian footwear in the 60s and 70s, where you can find the statue of the shoemaker of Italy, made by my grandmother’s uncle and depicting my great-grandfather as a child. My whole family has worked in the shoe industry for generations, all blue collar workers, and my grandmothers used to prepare the uppers and cut the leather by hand, right at home. With this background it was quite natural for me to follow the same path, and in 2017 I founded Ube Studio.” This is how Francesca Strigi Loddo recounts the birth of her creative consultancy and production supervision studio, which is based in Tuscany and now boasts collaborations with Italian and international brands such as Ancuta Sarca, Atiimu, Carlos Santos, Christopher Kane, Dion Lee, Federico Cina and Marco Rambaldi.

What is Ube Studio’s strength? What characterises you?

“I think the strength of our studio lies in the fact that I don’t come directly from the technical footwear sector. My past as a stylist trained me to have a keen eye for the finished product and how to present it in looks and communication in general. Our team is made up of both creatives and technicians, and my vision has also guided the search for clients towards emerging brands that need production support to grow.”

 Among your ‘creatures’ is the DISCOTEX brand…

“The DISCOTEX brand was born precisely out of my need to create something personal after years dedicated exclusively to other brands, and which would fully represent me. I am passionate about music and vinyl, I have a past as a DJ and this brand is at the crossroads between music and fashion.”

Which of your creations do you consider most iconic?

“Definitely the silver clogs from Discotex, our iconic continuation. ‘Unbox your discotex(s). You need just one second to put them on or to kick them off, no excuses. No matter what your talent is, you must go all-in”.

 How do you interpret the current market situation?

“The demand for footwear has always been constant: high quality and comfort. Compared to other garments in our wardrobe, shoes perform a tangible function – they allow us to walk. While a T-shirt can be worn indifferently in size XL or S, the question of footwear goes beyond size: comfort and fit play a primary role. However, I am concerned about the decline of craftsmanship in the sector.’

 Can you explain in more detail?

“Customers and retailers are now looking for shoes that are so perfect that they look as if they were produced by 3D printers, discarding small defects that were once considered signs of quality craftsmanship. I would like to stress that a large part of the production process of our shoes remains completely handmade. The real quality lies not only in the aesthetic perfection of the leather, but in the construction of the shoe itself. Each sole, last and insole has been carefully developed and customised for that specific model, representing the craftsmanship excellence that characterises Italian industry.”

 If you had to go out shopping today, which shop would you go to and what would you buy?

“My favourite shop is Voo Store in Berlin, while online I think one of the coolest selections is SSENSE: it always has exclusive colours and a focus on niche brands. The quality of The Row’s outerwear is disarming, I would love one.”

 Which designer has impressed you most recently?

“I really liked Coperni with his Swipe Bag Made of Moon Rock: the same bag has been repurposed in Aerogel, a material almost entirely made of air and used by NASA. Both models were classified as contemporary works of art.”

What place, music, film or book… have recently made you think and inspired you in your fashion choices?

“I actively collaborate as an art director at the Polyamore Records record label, founded by Bruno Belissimo. Here I have the opportunity to work with a variety of talents, ranging from young artists seeking affirmation to established icons of the music scene. Currently, we are preparing for the production of the video clip of the new single by Alan Sorrenti, the unforgettable ‘star child’ of Italian music. Alan achieved success when he was only 22 years old, particularly in the 1970s, and now, at 70, he is still an inexhaustible source of inspiration. His music, timeless and boundless, has left an indelible mark on the history of Italian music. I would like to be able to create something that is just as timeless.”