The co-owner of footwear brand Volta tells Marie Davies about creating a hybrid shoe and developing its signature style.
You are co-founder of design collaborative 24/7, which includes the Volta footwear brand. Tell us about this.
24/7 is in effect a creative consultancy that I and four others started in 2007. I come from a marketing background, another is from buying and the other two partners have graphic design backgrounds. We all had different things to bring to the table. As a collective, 24/7 doesn’t only house our own brand Volta, we also consult for other clients and act as a sales agent in Italy for Folk, Henrik Vibskov and Surface to Air.
How were the first pair of Volta shoes created in 2008?
24/7 wanted to make a hybrid shoe that was comfortable and wearable like a sneaker but not as formal as a traditional formal shoe. We were happy with the outcome but were still unsure as to the reaction we would get.
How has the collection changed since then?
When we launched, we offered one style in a variety of colours. This made it instantly recognisable but it didn’t offer enough variety to our stockists and customers. We’ve always had a good design but have evolved it to a more stylish cut and added more breadth to the range.
What’s new for spring 12?
We’re launching some new styles such as a low-top sneaker. So far we’ve had stronger collections in the winter as our styles are made with leather. Now we’ve introduced canvas and low-tops for spring I expect it to be more evenly spread. We’ve collaborated with [outsoles manufacturer] Vibram on two exclusive designs for spring 12 – we can help in terms of branding and its expertise is in the technical element.
What stockists do you have in the UK?
We launched in [London indie] Dover Street Market for autumn 09. After that we had [York indie] Sarah Coggles and a good pool of stores in London such as Supra and Poste. We lost a few accounts due to our small offer, which we’ve now addressed. We have about 25 doors in the UK and the goal for spring 12 will be to up that to about 50.
Who is your typical stockist?
In the rest of Europe we sell mostly to high-end footwear boutiques or independents that mix footwear and clothing. Our shoes are supposed to be worn every day and we want them to be accessible. So we want to up the distribution and also get exposure to a wider customer base.
What’s next for Volta?
Autumn 11 was our first season with agency Fourmarketing and we are very happy. We’ve also started to distribute in the US for spring 12 including Creatures of Comfort in New York, which also stocks Acne and APC. Japan was a new market for us in spring 10 – the next few seasons we really want to grow internationally.
Any plans to open a store?
We want to establish the brand in department stores and high-end indies, opening up to some more denim and casualwear stores or sneaker stores. We have a long way to go but as soon as we have the right brand awareness and turnover we will look to retail.
- Mauro Simionato is co-founder of Italian casual footwear brand Volta
What other footwear brands do you admire?
Common Projects has a very clear and consistent message.
What trade shows do you exhibit at?
Pitti Uomo and Capsule New York.
Where do you buy your clothes?
A very good local independent store in Antonia, Milan.
What brands do you wear the most?
Japanese denim brand Kato, Folk and [Swedish label] Hope.
What was the last gig you went to?
Primavera festival in Barcelona – Belle & Sebastian and Pulp were playing.
Low canvas ash Volta