So much has been written about that first espadrille with a wedge heel created by Yves Saint Laurent in the seventies, but Castañer
is now sharing the catwalk with Altuzarra and Oscar de la Renta. If certain style icons like Grace Kelly contributed to the creation of the myth, today ‘it’ girls like Jeanne Damas or Alexa Chung flaunt their Carinas and Embetadas on Instagram. That’s because nearly 100 years of history goes a long way, although what is essential remains intact. “It’s extremely important to point out that we are brand that is 100% made in Spain,” Antonio Castañer highlighted, before he began to tell us about how the company is taking on omnichannel commerce and their plans for Latin America, Miami and the Middle East.
-How does one of the leading Spanish shoe brands rise up from a product as humble as the espadrille?
-The first Castañer studio was founded in 1927. Today this traditional shoe with humble origins has become a genuine fashion icon. The secret to our success has been to combine craftsmanship with fashion, tradition and trends in an exclusive and unique project. Next year we’re celebrating our 90th anniversary. Constant work, the influence of diverse markets, and our collaboration with major brands have allowed us to thrive and continue to grow.
-The espadrille is an iconic Castañer product, but your strategy seeks to establish the company as a shoe brand.
- Castañer’s origins as a brand clearly go back to the espadrille and we were the first company to position ourselves as a fashion product. But Castañer’s calling is to be a shoe brand. In fact, we’ve been producing winter collections for the past 15 years. Our expertise goes beyond working with jute. The magic of a certain model lies in the structure, the material, the proportions …
-And you’ve diversified with men’s and bridal collections, in addition to accessories.
-The men’s and bridal collections are two lines where we’re applying an in-depth approach and that have major growth opportunities. With accessories we’re also expanding our current vision and we’ll be developing additional lines that are in keeping with the Castañer essence, style and ‘savoir faire’.
-Are you considering launching a children’s collection to provide shoes for the whole family?
-The children’s collection is also something we’ve been working on.… We’re a brand that is highly recommended from mother to daughter. We’re a staple in the wardrobes of women who love fashion, but particularly appreciate a well-made, stylish and somewhat timeless product. Whoever tries us once, comes back for seconds, in addition to recommending us, and that’s the result of providing a well-made, comfortable and chic product.
-What are Castañer’s leading models?
-The Carina is the star product of the women’s collection and its men’s equivalent is the Pablo. We’ve made slight changes to these models in every collection. For summer 2016 we have Carinas in suede, leather, denim, gingham and even glitter. Furthermore, we’ve designed a capsule collection of this model for Net-A-Porter.
-In 2015 you reached a record turnover. What are your forecasts for 2016?
-The financial year ends in July. In 2015, the company reached a turnover of more than 26 million euros, which is a 13% increase and the best results we’ve had to date. The forecasts for 2016 indicate a 10% growth rate.
The results we achieved in 2015 are due mainly to enthusiastically performed work, although behind that lies Castañer’s commitment to retail and the digital world, with regard to sales as well as to marketing.
-How is the online store evolving?
-Our e-shop is in the top 3 of all of our stores and it’s one of our major pillars of growth, not only with regard to sales, but in building our brand’s popularity. We’re focusing a great deal of effort on our digital channels. The goal is omnichannel retailing. We currently have several projects underway in this respect. And we’ll be launching a new website in the coming weeks.
-Nowadays personalization is key to the customer loyalty-building process. Are you considering any sort of customization service?
-Yes, and specifically within the new website. In reality we’ve been customizing our product for years now. If a bride comes into a Castañer store and asks for a specific fabric, we’ll make it for her.
-You also operate on leading platforms.
-Correct, we are available on Net-A-Porter as well as Moda Operandi.
-Where does Castañer have a traditional retail presence?
-Castañer is currently present in Spain, France, China, Greece, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Korea, Colombia and Chile. By the end of July the company will have added another 37 Castañer points of sale. As part of our expansion strategy, our next grand openings will be in Latin America, Miami and the Middle East.
Headquarters: C/Menuts, 0 S/N (Pol. Ind. La Farga). 17820, Banyoles. Girona.
Staff: 300 employees
Annual production: 400,000 pairs
Export rate: 70%
Trade shows: MICAM (Milan), Première Classe (Paris) and Pitti Uomo (Florence)