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Heritage on Good Footing: An Interview with the Giusti Sisters of AGL
FSW talks branding, the art of family, and the vision behind AGL's latest SS2024 campaign with its owners and creative directors, the Giusti sisters.
In a market where it seems every luxury brand is trying to vie for the attention of shoe lovers, whether it is a traditional offering or not, there is a small coterie of Italian-native luxury shoe brands that have been creating beautiful shoes for generations. One of these brands is Attilio Giusti Leombruni, better known as AGL.
Founded in 1958 by Piero Giusti, the company is now run by Piero’s granddaughters, Vera, Marianna, and Sara Giusti. Over the past decade, the Giusti sisters have in no small way reinvented their grandfather’s brand with a core focus on female-focused creativity and quality craftsmanship.
Recently, FSW sat down with the Giusti sisters to chat about the art of branding, the value of heritage, and the cinematic inspirations behind the AGL Spring-Summer 2024 campaign.
FSW: AGL is an unapologetically family-owned brand. What do family and heritage mean to you?
AGL: AGL has been producing Made in Italy footwear since 1958. As a third generation, we bring with us an important, unique, precious legacy, made of processes and craftsmanship. Today it allows us to experiment with new stylistic solutions, characterized by a very personal and recognizable aesthetics. AGL is a contemporary brand, cool, but with a long history behind it. In 1958, the company was founded. In 1968, our grandfather evolved the laboratory into an industry. In 1978, our father joined and led the family business. In 1988, exports exceeded national sales. In 1998, AGL conquered the United States and doubled its turnover. In 2008, we, the three sisters, became the sole company managers. In 2018, we opened our first retail space in Paris.
FSW: How do you try to bring your own point of view into the AGL brand while staying true to what your father built?
AGL: With the arrival of three women, the whole company has undergone a change, moving towards a greater openness to research and experimentation, which has given rise to new product categories, with the consequent approach to new markets for greater business development. In addition, we pay particular attention to sustainability throughout every step of our work. Female sensitivity has inevitably led to a new approach to design and innovation (in shapes and materials). Today the collection is based on stylistic solutions that manage to meet the needs of different types of women. More color, new shapes, and new soles every season and details with a strong personality. A 65% female workforce brings traditional know-how to the modern world. Sisterhood bond and feeling is now an integral part of AGL's DNA and is found in every professional behavior of the company.
FSW: Your SS2024 campaign was inspired by Sofia Coppola’s film “Marie Antoinette.” What about this film appealed to you? How did you use the film to build your collection narrative?
AGL: We were inspired in part by Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette: the fresh, mischievous, and unorthodox teen queen. The attention to detail and shades of colors that Coppola used to stage her own interpretation of Marie Antoinette’s biographic film were really inspiring.
Excitement is ignited through unconventional creativity, creating experimental footwear that is out of the ordinary. The SS24 collection is a refined game of impalpable volumes, sartorial elements, and experimental details made of unusual pieces.
Freedom flies, manual skill, and continuous research inspire AGL, which turns pleated and needle-felted silk into a foot decoration, like a jewel; and like the dreamlike snow that falls in summer, the silk is itself adorned with small paper polka dots. The work done on silk originates queen sandals, mules, and even gladiators, where silk is used as a punk-romantic mohawk.
Femininity is represented by bows, emblems of the ladylike style, a refined homage to the superb rocking queen, made of embossed denim or mesh: a vividly feminine and delicate touch. For the use of color, we draw inspiration from rococo hues, however, made more excessive and modern by pushing them towards neon: mint, pink, and canary, which become strong and acidic like aqua, fuchsia, and lime: a thousand shades of color that pay homage to women with a profound and multifaceted, sensitive and deep personality.
FSW: In this vein, what defines the “modernized rococo” aesthetic of your footwear in this new collection? How do you feel this appeals to the AGL consumer?
AGL: AGL products are women’s perfect allies, simply elegant and cool, not to go unnoticed, which make her feel at ease and attractive, thanks to their strong personality.
Designing a shoe is not just creating a fashion product, it is a much broader commitment made of technical study, courage in innovating, and responsibility. We produce an accessory that is not only decorative, but that must also be functional and support the steps of AGL customers in all their daily tasks.
The strong personality of our shoes comes from a mix of masculine and feminine, from unexpected volumes and a very varied color palette, made with high-quality Made in Italy materials. Shoes with great volumes, yet very light. In some categories, the slip-lasting method gives the model extreme flexibility and a comfortable fit.
We are 3 women designing and producing shoes always thinking to dress a contemporary, cheerful, and multitasking woman, since our goal is to create shoes with a twist, but perfect for the super busy life of us women.
FSW: In a broader sense, what is your take on the future of the footwear market? What is the role of fashion in this chaotic era of the creator economy, climate crisis, and overconsumption?
AGL: AGL was founded in Montegranaro 63 years ago. The territory has given us so much and supporting it is part of our ethics: not only do we produce everything in Italy, in our factory in the Marche region, but also all the materials we use are Italian.
To demonstrate our respect for the territory we control CO2 emissions thanks to the ISO 14000 certification, and we produce all our shoes with clean energy thanks to the photovoltaic systems / solar panels that our factory has been equipped with since 2007. Particular attention is paid to the management of waste, which derives from manufacturing processes. In fact, by producing everything internally scraps are limited and upcycled for the creation of other models/products.
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