< Back To Article                    
Sole Music
Text by Sona Bahadur and Photograph by Kartik Rao
Published: Volume 15, Issue 5, May, 2007
Fratelli Rossetti, with its glorious tradition of handcrafted Italian quality, epitomises classical style and comfort. Founded by Renzo Rossetti in the 1950s, the renowned luxury shoe label has a presence in New York, Dubai, Beirut and Mumbai. The brand's CEO Diego Rossetti talks to Sona Bahadur about his father's incredible legacy and his game plan for getting a better foothold in the Indian market

When Diego Rosetti began his longstanding romance with shoes , he was too small for his boots. He fondly remembers his first pair. He was 14 and couldn't wait to be the size big enough to finally wear the pair he really wanted. "I still recall they were ankle boots. It was such an emotion to step into them." The emotion launched a whole career.

Stepping into dad's shoes
Rossetti's father Renzo Rossetti, started with a small business in the mid 1950s, crafting shoes by himself. "My father hired his first employee in 1956." Rossetti started working for the company as a high-school lad during his summer vacation. "I was very young but working with him, I began to appreciate my father's passion for what he started. The shoe is a difficult item. In a small object, there are many different concerns and phases of production. Everything must be right to work. Some aspects are invisible but they are important for quality."

Great quality equals happy feet
A dress can be a bit loose or ill fitting, Rossetti reasons, but not a shoe. Since comfort and style must blend together perfectly, there is deep know-how involved in producing shoes. Each Fratelli Rossetti shoe is manufactured in their headquarters outside Milan. Rossetti's own office is under the main factory, keeping the operations very tight knit. A lot of luxury companies license their shoe businesses and take responsibility for style, but they don't really know how the shoes are made, he says. "The shoes look good but they don't have the know-how. Our strategy is to always be the leader in handcrafted leather goods. We don't want to extend the brand to other areas.

Playing footsie with the Indian customer
Despite the obvious opportunities India offers, Rossetti says the brand's biggest challenge is to make Indian consumers aware about Fratelli Rossetti's great tradition of high-quality products. He is clear he needs to take a totally different approach from the existing five or six global footwear brands in India because they are not well known in the Indian luxury market yet. "In case of Fratelli Rossetti, customers need to understand why they should pay double or triple of what they are used to paying for a pair of shoes. This won't happen overnight or easily. But we have seen from our shop in Dubai that word of mouth is really the best advertising for us. In Europe most of our customers are very loyal. They come to us when they need to buy shoes and we would like the same to happen in India." The range for India targets both men and women. Women can choose from sandals, open shoes, pumps and other styles. "Our taste is very close to the traditional Indian taste. We have had a better reaction from women because they understand the style and the refinement of our product better. Men are still a little reluctant to make the big jump from the products they are used to buying to a better product of a totally different quality."