Think of rubberized footwear, and what most likely springs to mind is wellington boots. So, allow us to put you right on this subject, because you haven’t yet been introduced to Menghi Shoes. From neon-bright boots to bejeweled, sophisticated sandals and handbags, we’re talking seriously trendy accessories. Who knew that this most humble of materials could be so spectacularly transformed?
Emanuela Menghi certainly did. On creating her eponymous label in the mid-80s, she almost single-handedly heralded the craze for flexible jelly footwear and accessories. With her passion for experimentation, she created plastic rain boots, ballet flats, sandals and flip-flops in eye-popping rainbow colors, adding exquisite embellishments from fur to crystals for an unmistakable touch of high-fashion flair.
“At the beginning, it was my personal initiative to make plastic fashion-worthy,” explains Emanuela. “Everything began with a very simple plastic item that year after year started to become popular and classy.”
Hailing from the Marche region in central Italy, the nerve center of Emanuela’s brand is now at her Milan showroom. Alongside her close-knit, talented team, Emanuela has forged prestigious collaborations with haute couture labels such as Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo and Louis Vuitton.
Astonishingly, she has made it all happen without formal training in her craft: “I didn’t get the chance to learn! My business got off the ground due to my perseverance, self-sacrifice and creativity.” Combine her drive with clever advertising and a strong distribution network, and her brand is now a front-runner in the industry, with strong export markets in the Russian Federation, Japan, the USA, and across Europe.
So, given the challenging materials involved, how do Emanuela’s designs become reality? “The process of making shoes is very complex—even more so, given the perfection desired by our company!” she smiles. “Everything starts with a design idea that is transformed into a mold for the shoe. These need to be rigorously revised, tested and improved. When the molds are finalized, we start creating items via an injection machine.”
With manufacturing headquarters based in Loreto, near Ancona, Emanuela is determined to follow every phase. “I’m there with the team from the prototype’s creation to final production.” She is hugely proud of the brand’s “precious collaboration” with Swarovski. “When we first decided to apply accessories to our shoes we used glass and plastic, but over time, I realized our products needed more sparkle and glitter,” she explains. “So, I decided to use only Swarovski to enhance and add value to our ranges. Now I couldn’t imagine using anything else!”