Footloose: A Look Inside Stuart Weitzman’s Factories In Elda, Spain

    Venturing off the beaten path to the birthplace of some of our favorite shoes

    by · September 01, 2016

    Photographed by Jordi Sarra.

    The following feature appears in the September 2016 issue of NYLON.

    New York, Paris, London, and Milan are the first cities of fashion. But it took journeying to Elda, a small city in the Alicante province of Spain, to witness the best in shoemaking. There, acclaimed footwear designer Stuart Weitzman has been building his empire since 1986. This year, Weitzman’s namesake brand is celebrating its 30th anniversary, and I got the chance to experience firsthand why the company is one of the best in the business.

    Within the city, the company works with 11 factories, all of which seem to have a specialty or a focus, from leather and embossing to the making of the heels themselves. The factories oversee the production of the shoes from beginning to end, starting with the initial drawing and finally shipping their creations to retailers around the world. But before they are sent off to customers, they spend a lot of time in Spain, as does Weitzman himself. What brought him there this time around, you ask? A Ping-Pong tournament. As it turns out, Weitzman is not only a footwear connoisseur but also a competitive table tennis player!

    Click through the gallery to read the rest of the feature.

    Photographed by Jordi Sarra.

    With his knowledge of everything from the most complex details of designing a shoe to running a business, the 30-year mark is a well-deserved achievement. “You know what’s changed the most? It’s the customer we’re selling it to,” says Weitzman. “When I first got into the business I was right at the end of my father’s generation; designers were still only designing for themselves, and dictating to you what you have to wear this season.” Today, you can be your own tastemaker, as we can see from personalities like Gigi Hadid and Joan Smalls (who have starred in Weitzman’s campaigns).

    Photographed by Jordi Sarra.

    The time and effort it takes to create a good shoe is something many customers take for granted. “The line of the shoe [is the most important part] because that’s where it will put the most pressure on your foot,” says Weitzman. It’s clear that he understands intimately the intricacies of design and function, in all shapes and forms. His company’s products range from boots to pumps to bridal pieces. The label’s expansive collection of designs makes them appealing to every customer, young or old. Weitzman’s even produced shoes worth a million dollars—they made their red carpet debut in 2002 on Laura Harring for the Academy Awards. “The sole was platinum, it had 800 or so diamonds,” he says. “I think there were nine or 10 karats. They looked like the ones Beyoncé wears.”

    Over the last three decades, the company has grown immensely, building a legacy of footwear we all covet. And after seeing these shoes made IRL, I now know it’s true that you get what you pay for. So, I would advise saving up for Stuart Weitzman rather than blowing your piggy bank anywhere else. You won’t be sorry.

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    Last updated: 2016-09-01T09:49:05-04:00
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