Conspiracy’s Afoot

Three years ago Gianluca Tamburini, the Iron Man of the Italian shoe industry, founded his company Conspiracy Shoes. Although he had a degree in marketing and economics and no fashion training, he had decided to re-invent himself as a shoe designer. He drew his peculiar inspiration from three mantras:

Italy is the third largest fashion economy in the world.
The accessory industry is the fastest growing industry in fashion.
Of all accessories, shoes are the least likely to be made precious or jewel-like.

Tamburini miraculously processed this data into creations that are among the most innovative and seductive in Italian shoe design of the past 30 years. Last June he was awarded the eighth elite Who is on Next? prize, which spots young talents in fashion Made in Italy.

Behind the elegance and comfort of Conspiracy’s shoes—notable for their removable, interchangeable parts—lies a fusion of contemporary mechanical engineering and a 120-year-long tradition of artisanal shoemaking. The soles, made of aeronautical aluminum, are produced in Maranello by Veca, a company that mainly manufactures parts for Ferrari automobiles. They are shiny, lightweight, and indestructible. Heels feature a patented steel attachment mechanism that permits the owner to exchange them in a matter of minutes. The vamps, insteps, and ankle straps are produced in Parabiago (the Italian capital of high-end shoemaking) by the Mondelli brothers, using exotic materials of all sorts, from precious stones to rare snakeskins.

Tamburini’s shoes would be at home in a sexy, sophisticated sci-fi movie, but they are in actuality the product of Italian tradition. Conspiracy shoes can be viewed this week at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York and until April 13 in “Shoe Obsession,” an exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Technology.