I’ve been addicted to Instagram since two years, I am using it mostly for professional activities … I like to stumble upon random trendsetter’s accounts and follow them so I can remain updated with everything that inspires them and actually inspires me. This is how I found myself following Cb’s a few weeks ago. No haphazard though, I finally remenbered that I had spotted these shoes on many Instas and in the real life as well quite some times, wondering what the brand was … These loafers are worn by known and unknown all over the world, as for now mostly italians but you can be sure that the trend is spread fashionably to all lovers of beautifully crafted ‘scarpe’. In this interview with Cecilia I chose to focus on the debut of the brand, the marketing process as it happens that although adopted by big names such as Margherita Missoni or Ambra Medda, Cb is a very small organisation with very much humble origins.
Madame Business : Can you tell us about you ? How did you start this brand ?
Cecilia Bringheli : My brand started about 4 years ago, when I met with my brother and explained him my idea of creating some flat shoes, of exquisite quality. Something that would remind to us the flats that our mother always used to wear during summertimes in Positano. Lorenzo, a fashion and portraiture photographer at the time based in NYC, was really keen to see how this idea might develop, so he financed all the beginning stage (as banks in Italy would never support good ideas) and we started searching for a reliable artisan that might be interested in the project. Of course, it’s the same artisan that we work with today!
MB : Although I had noticed these gorgeous loafers as I travelled abroad I really became aware of your products only when I stumbled on some posts on Instagram ! To name a few fashion icons such as Margherita Missoni seems to be addicted to CB ? Can you comment ?
CB : I am really glad you noticed us on Instagram! We are now candidated for a prize about small brand communication, also integrated with social networks, so this make us proud!! Regarding fashion icons such as Margherita Missoni, Giovanna Battaglia, Lapo Elkann or many others such as Madonna, Jessica Chastain, Adrien Brody … I must say that it was all very casual ! I think people likes our creations and understands the value of our quality, for which we make no compromise. Alltogether, though, they love the idea of someone young doing well without having a weatlhy family support or banks. I think people recognized the love and the intention behind the project and supported us more than ever. We owe them so much. And we’re not talking about celebs only, but about all the friends and customers that with their loyalty and good taste helped us getting us on the way.
MB : How important is social marketing to CB’s brand awareness and how do you manage to build the reputation of your shoes ? Word of mouth and recomendation seems to be very important in your case ?
CB : Word of mouth has been our only advertising for many years, and we still cannot consider “advertising” our own pages on social networks (as we never pay for this services). We do not have any precise marketing, as our products are intended to be worn for a lifetime, from 3 to 90 years old ! So, when we started having our 1st customers, let’s imagine a young pretty girl ’20 yo’, leaving happy with her slippers, and coming back with the mother the next day, then the brother and father the following week. Soon all the friends of each component of the family were into Cb’s and their friends wanted to have them so we started growing organically, until reaching the attention of the establishment, such as Kathy Horyn and Franca Sozzani. Getting back on the marketing strategy to create awareness, I can only say that our way of thinking a product might be to understand what is that product we dream about and we cannot find in this fast, logomaniac world ? Ok. Let’s make it. Let’s make it in the best possible way, with all the best leathers, garments, and of course, the best possible craftmanship. Then, once our dream object comes alive, we’ll find customers that will understand it and become loyal to us, in the same way we’re loyal to them doing what we do with no compromise to the quality.
MB : ‘Made in Italy’ appears to be more than a base line, actually it is part of the brand’s name. Almost more important than your own name (CB stands for Cecilia Bringheli) … Is italian craftmanship still as sexy and powerfull than before ? especially as seen from abroad ?
CB : Made in Italy is part of our brand name only because we are truly 100% Made in Italy so we were obliged to specify it anyway. Just for legal sake, the “Made in Italy” is not part of our brand but was used in a graphic creative way by our logo art-director, James Timmins. Concerning the Italian craftmanship, it’s not about sexyness or appeal, but about quality. In Italy we’re best at producing products of quality that are also extremely beautiful and functional. It’s in our DNA. This is why we call our artisans “Artists”, as their love, their taste, their care to what they do, contributes every single day to the magic aura of our shoes. On top of this, we are devoted to create the best and the best cannot be made in China. We do not want to make 7 billion pairs of shoes per year, maybe glued with cancer friendly materials. We prefer to be at disposal for a discerning crowd, that understand the value of quality in the long run and also, the quality of time.
MB : When Diego Della Valle (founder of Tods) started its first add campaign he pictured icons such as Hepburn and JFK wearing a pair of his now famous car shoes. The joke being that his brand did not exist when these VIPs were still alive. Your image conveys this same message of historic legacy as if the ‘Maison’ had been founded decades ago, and not 3 years ago. I personaly really like that (so this comes as a compliment) but how do you handle this idea of genuine traditionally handmade products combined with contemporary aspirations ?
CB : Well ! Of course we admire a lot Mr. Della Valle. But our histories are still profoundly different, as we do not come from a family who owned a shoe factory so we did not have a legacy with the past and it’s not our care to build one, true or only aspirational. This, I believe, is the key to our contemporary aspirations. We hope our image talks to people of good taste, elegant, possibly also polite and kind to others. This is how we aim to be and this is what we hope to get in our customers. I can only imagine that this is why you have this feeling while observing our communication. And this make us really proud, as we believe that the values I just mentioned we believe in, do not belong to the past, but should belong to the present and the future and to all the intelligent people that understand that, without creating links to lives that are not ours. We are the future. Our mission to this world it’s to “pass the beauty”, while creating a product that is unbranded on the outside. This is why our slogan is: “Emotion has no signature”.
MB : It’s very rare to find a young shoe brand with collections for both men and women. How did you get the idea and why ?
CB : Well, in the beginning my brother wanted to make shoes for himself and his friends, while me for myself and my girlfriends ! So since all was planned to be without high heels, we thought that it could be done in a unisex way. Also, the simplicity of good taste can be applied fairly well to both sexes, without mentioning that we like a man in touch with his feminine side, as well as a strong woman that glimpsed into men’s wardrobe to make her own what’s best in there…
E-shop : CB Made in Italy
Pictured below are : Cecilia Bringheli, Margherita Missoni, Ambra Medda, special edition for Valentino Rossi, Eva Fontanelli, Francesco Carrozzini, Robert Rabensteiner, Nicolo’ Oddi et Giovanna Battaglia.