Accessories brand Furla’s designer tells Lucie Goulet about his architectural influences and how he got his lucky break.
You studied architecture, so how does that influence the way you design footwear? I love to find a simple, architectural line that can turn a shoe into something out of the ordinary, but I’m as much inspired by painters and old Italian movies. When I was finishing my architecture study, I started modelling and had the opportunity to work with people like Tom Ford and Karl Lagerfeld, and seeing how different designers work gave me my first experience in style.
What was the most intimidating thing about joining the design team at Furla? There really wasn’t anything intimidating because my joining Furla was slow and progressive. I had opportunities to test myself first and Furla slowly introduced me into the company and gave me an increasing number of responsibilities. They knew I was young and that they had to be supportive. Few brands support young designers in the way Furla does. My first design for them was a capsule collection made up of only 10 styles, and I did this for two seasons. After the second season, I was offered a permanent job with Furla for autumn 09.
Tell us how fashion talent search competition Who is on Next influenced your career. It influenced me very much. It’s like the Italian version of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and I won the accessories design award this year. When companies such as Furla look for new designers, they pay attention to competitions like this. Winners are introduced to companies for collaborations, Italian Vogue promotes the competition, then people start knowing your name. Without it, I would never have been presented to Furla.
Who do you have in mind when you design footwear? I think about women from 16 to 60. The brand is very global so I design for different women with different lifestyles, women who like contemporary and elegant, sophisticated and timeless styles. Furla has a clean and polished style that I like to reflect, but I also need to be attentive to the price. We want to give a fair price and impeccable quality, so everything is made in Tuscany in the best factories.
What is the main difference between designing your own Max Kibardin accessories collection and designing for Furla? When I’m designing for Furla, I have to consider the brand heritage, production capacities, target customer, price point, and the geography of the market. Furla is a huge company, produced in industrially developed factories, while my own collection has more haute couture features and is made by artisan craftsmanship with limited production. For Furla, I have to apply that sense of style and integrate it with the wider brand strategy.
What’s the most important thing to consider when designing footwear? I always want to make shoes look stylish. Italian fashion is all about style, particularly in Milan.
If you could design footwear for one person, who would you pick? Donatella Versace is amazing.
What is your favourite style of footwear? Skinny-heeled sandals.
Which is your favourite city to shop in? Milan, as it’s the most inspirational place.
- Max Kibardin is a designer at women’s accessories brand Furla