Italian Hands:- Why are Anita Flavina Dance Shoes so Special?
In 2016 I was approached by professional dancers, as they were seeking dance shoes, which consisted of maximum comfort, flexibility, durability and style. I knew this could only be achieved by using premium quality materials and leathers, skilled workmanship and innovation in the technical details of each dance shoe.
Our conversation was concluded by the dancers propositioning to me the following;
‘To produce a collection of Italian dance shoes that is an extension of your feet, and the upper of each shoe feels like your second second skin.’
In rising to this new proposition the first and most important challenge would be to source our production team. I knew it was imperative that each person on our production team possessed the skills, knowledge, expertise and passion to execute this venture. In Italy dance shoe making is a specialised craft which requires a different skill set that is used for making normal footwear. So I searched for many months before I found the ‘Italian hands’ that specialised in precisely what we required.
I sourced artisan’s in Italy, which is known as the world’s exquisite shoe making region where the premium international luxury ladies footwear brands are produced. Therefore I was confident our production team up would consist of the finest leather tanneries and accessory houses, enabling our dance shoe collections to comprise of luxurious materials, leathers and accessories.
The next step of my journey was to establish exactly what dancers technically required in order to gain the maximum performance from their dance shoes. In order to achieve this I selected a handful of professional dancers to assist me with our design process in which we would create collections ‘designed with dancers for dancers.’
During our design development meetings I would make notes upon notes on what each dancer explained to me in detail what they desired from the perfect pair of dance shoes. My list was getting longer and longer each day, but I am a strong believer that working on solutions eventually eliminates problems.
One of the funniest points that kept coming up from dancers was they wished for their feet not to smell at the end of the day, this seemed an impossibility to some of them. We laughed through their embarrassment and I explained this is a simple process and with the use of premium leather insoles and linings for each dance shoe, foot odour would become a distant memory. Leather is a breathable skin and just like humans our skin has holes which release sweat when we expire. It is the same for the leather skin used in shoes.
Once back in Le Marche I would hold brain storming sessions with our artisan’s relaying all my notes . We would have long discussions regarding the technicalities of each style and how we can deliver to dancers exactly what they require. Myself and our factories would hold further meetings with each of our suppliers who are part of our production team in order to lead the way forward in the innovation of dance shoe making, whilst ensuring the generations of authentic craftsmanship would be implemented at every stage of production. I am sure at times our suppliers must have thought ‘oh no here comes Ani again with more crazy ideas.’
An area that fascinated me the most was the lining and padding of each style of dance shoes. When I think about it now it is logic. For a dancer each part of the feet performs a specialised and particular role in the performance of their dance, as our shoes are an extension the feet this should be reflected in the width of the lining and padding of each shoe. It would make perfect sense for the balls of the feet to have more padding and the flex points and arch of the feet to have least padding as possible this is to ensure maximum flexibility in the movement of the dance.
In the end our production team nick named us the ‘A Ani Team’ and the development of new pro types commenced. Our hard work and passion would eventually be paid off when our dancers tested our new styles and proclaimed they were the most comfortable dance shoes they had ever worn.
It was during this time that Luca Michetti our Marketing and Communications Director filmed and produced ‘Italian Hands’. Luca felt it is important for dancers to understand why our shoes are different and can see at first hand the authentic craftsmanship as well as feeling the passion that is implemented into our collections. It seems world’s apart from the glamour and style of international dance competitions where dancers perform in their finest glory. However it is the beginning of the life of each dance shoe we create for you.