habbot founder, Annie Abbott’s years living in London led to a love of European craftsmanship and inspired the decision that her new Australian designed shoe brand should be made in Italy.
“It’s really about the combination of both fine shoemaking and fine leather production that prompted me to look to Italy for manufacturing. Quite a few regions around the world specialise in one or the other, but not necessarily both.” – Annie Abbott
habbot’s shoes are manufactured in a family run operation in Sant’Elpidio a Mare, in the Le Marche region of North Eastern Italy, a centre of tradition and excellence for Italian shoemaking.
Headed up by Marco and his parents Paolo and Pia, at capacity our makers employ about 15 workers, and two-thirds of these are relatives of the father-son owners who live above the small factory. We have good communication via email and skype, but the best and most efficient results are achieved when we’re there in person working closely with the people who will handle each and every one of the shoes we sell. Consequently, Annie currently visits Italy twice a year to spend time with the team, source new materials and seek inspiration.
“My admiration for the fine work they do never wavers, and regularly being part of this process always serves to reassure me that the shoes come from a very fair and desirable workplace.” – Annie Abbott
The skills involved in footwear making are second nature to the team we work with. The industry is held in very high regard and each participant takes a great deal of pride in each stage of the making process. It’s this sense of pride and achievement that maintains the high quality we have come to expect from Italian shoe making, and is the reason we don’t consider making our shoes anywhere else.
MORE THAN JUST BUSINESS PARTNERS
As a ‘younger’ generation shoemaker Marco is very open minded and enthusiastic about working with an independent brand from ‘far off’ Australia. However, his family’s approach to shoemaking is still very traditional and they are frequently surprised when Annie arrives each season with new plans to push the boundaries of classic Italian shoemaking with her ‘inspired’ material choices. A recent trip revealed the admission that they thankfully “look forward to the challenge each time!”
“I have almost always done these trips alone so the family welcome me into their life for the time I spend with them each year. It was a relief and comfort initially, but now allows us an honesty and commitment that goes far beyond the standard ‘business-client’ relationship” - Annie Abbott
LOWERING OUR IMPACT
“Producing my collections overseas means that my carbon footprint is not as good as a local producer so I try to take measures to minimise it in other ways.” – Annie Abbott
Annie generally finalises a collection from start to finish in one trip to Italy to avoid the need to send numerous samples back and forth. We choose quality materials that wear well to justify the energy expended in preparing them, and source these from the same region in Italy that our makers are located, providing both environmental and practical benefits.
By using a lot of the same last shapes (moulds) each season, but reinvigorating them each time by applying different materials and patterns we cut out a considerable amount of wasted resources. Fast fashion and its constantly changing trends, lead to a requirement to create a new set of ‘lasts’ for each new fashion ‘direction’ which we consider an unnecessary practise. Last making is one of the most resource intensive processes in shoemaking so we only do this when the situation calls for it. Some of our favourite (and most popular) styles are constructed on lasts that our makers have been using for 20-30 years. It’s a practise and pace we appreciate and enjoy.