Skip to content
Made in Italy
Navigation menu
Ferragamo – Made in Italy

The shoemaker to the stars: Salvatore Ferragamo between history and myth

Salvatore Ferragamo: a story of perseverance and resilience, creativity and innovation that started from a small village in Irpinia and won over Hollywood stars.

reading time4 minutes

Behind every successful brand, there is an extraordinary story… but behind that of Salvatore Ferragamo, a historic Made in Italy brand that needs no introduction, there is even a myth!

Salvatore Ferragamo was born in 1898 in Bonito (AV), a small town in Irpinia, the eleventh of fourteen children in a family of farm hands. At sixteen, he boarded a ship to New York with a clear dream: to join one of his brothers working in a modern shoe factory in Boston to become a ‘master shoemaker’. Indeed, it seems that Salvatore’s passion for shoes started well before his move to America when he enjoyed making them for his sisters.

Salvatore Ferragamo

A dream that starts in America

His adventure continued to California, where he opened a shoemaker’s shop in Santa Barbara. He works during the day and takes a foot anatomy course at the University of Southern California in the evenings because he believes a personal object, such as a shoe, should not be mass-produced. Thanks to his extraordinary talent, he became the shoemaker of American Film & Co. He moved his business to Hollywood, where the Studios were located, and became known as the ‘shoemaker to the stars’.

One of the most loyal customers is none other than Marilyn Monroe, who wore only Ferragamo 12 cm heel pumps in every one of her successful films. The two, however, will never meet in person because, after thirteen years in the USA, Ferragamo returned to Italy at the age of 29 and chose Florence (via Mannelli) for the headquarters of his new company, which nevertheless continues to work for the American market and his shoes reach the USA… even without Amazon Prime!

Pumps with bow
Pumps with bow

Made in Italy exported worldwide

In 1940, he married Wanda Miletti, a young girl from his home town. Once the difficult war years were over, Ferragamo opened a prestigious showroom in Palazzo Spini Feroni (now housing the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum). Sadly, in 1960, Salvatore died suddenly at the age of 62, leaving behind his wife Wanda and six children, the youngest only three years old. With determination and the help of all the employees, Wanda Miletti took the helm of the company and, over the years, added clothing and perfume production to shoes. Guiding her in every choice were the values she shared with Salvatore, which inspired all her leadership.

Today, Salvatore Ferragamo S.p.a. is a prestigious world-leading fashion house headquartered in Florence, with 4000 employees and 300 shops worldwide, a turnover of hundreds of millions of euros, producing only in Italy and exporting 95% of its products! The company’s president is Leonardo Ferragamo.

Leonardo Ferragamo

The company has also always paid attention to sustainability. Its goals include the 42% reduction of direct and indirect CO2 emissions by 2029 and the increasing use of recycled and regenerated materials in the Maison’s collections.

Congratulations to those who bring Italian style and elegance to the world!

Read more stories of companies that make Made in Italy fashion known worldwide.