“The scent of vegetable tanned leather is the feeling that is most described by our customers. When they buy our leather sandals, the scent is the first thing they smell. This is the main reason why our sandals are seen as genuine and authentic products”.
These are the words of Carlo Pierucci, owner of Hermes SRL and the Mario Doni brand specialized in the production and creation of sandals in vegetable-tanned leather. But the special feature of these sandals is unique: they can be customized in a wide variety of colors and models, making the customer’s choice more personal.
A very successful formula that led the brand to be chosen, along with 12 other Italian companies of excellence, to participate in the documentary “Intrecci Etici“, dedicated to Italian slow fashion, which will be broadcast in 2021 on Infinity Now TV.
Carlo tells us that this adventure began almost as a game. Before he threw himself into making handmade sandals, Hermes SRL mainly produced leather insoles for shoe manufacturers.
“The work was repetitive and the deadlines were very tight,” says Carlo. “In those years we used to produce 2.5 million pairs of insoles a year. It was quite difficult to keep up that pace of work. You had to make that type of insole and only that type of insole … you didn’t have a say in the matter. For example: any changes had to be agreed with the shoe factory first. But developing our own product, we could finally change our fate!”.
So, the founder of Mario Doni had this intuition and decided to follow it through: creating tailor made leather sandals associated with a new brand.
“Initially, we made disassembled sandals. The idea was to give artisans the chance, in their own shops, to recreate the Tuscan sandal: all in vegetable tanned leather so that they could customize it. However, due to the lack of positive feedback, we decided to make the sandals ourselves with very good results. At that point we also developed an e-commerce for direct sales to our customers offering handmade products anywhere in the world. So, we recreated the idea of the “antique shop”, but with a modern touch.”
In addition to the customization of colors, the wide variety of models and sizes available is highly appreciated by customers, particularly at an international level (US and Europe).
“Foreign customers are surprised that they can have an article tailor made. For example, an American customer needed special sizes and he couldn’t find them anywhere. When he found us, well, he was completely satisfied”.
Quality, well-being and sustainability
In a world where consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the products they buy and the materials they use, Mario Doni is becoming a reference brand. His sandals are made using only vegetable-tanned leather with tannins and the hides are bought directly from local tanneries.
“Aiming for high material quality is something that our potential customers are very interested in. Sandals made with synthetic materials can be uncomfortable on contact with the skin, especially in summer, when the heat makes the skin more sensitive to irritation. This is why so many buyers ask us about quality aspects. Many people complains that their feet feel excessively hot and smelly when wearing other footwear, a common problem that can be easily solved by using vegetable-tanned shoes.”
Mario Doni’s ‘slow fashion’ also reinforces the concept of sustainability. Their sandals are made only after being commissioned by customers, avoiding a waste of precious resources, as too often happens in the fast fashion circuit.
“We have a duty to reach the ideal of a 100% sustainable process, even if this will require an investment from the whole supply chain. It is a goal that we must share with the consumers as well.”
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