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Giacomo Piazza of Volta Shoes Speaks to GBlog

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According to the old adage, one cannot truly understand another until you walk a mile in his shoes. Well, GBlog recently had the opportunity to try on Volta footwear for size (figuratively, of course) by speaking with Giacomo Piazza, lead designer at Volta. Volta is an Italian brand that launched in 2007 and took Europe by storm with the Volta Classic, which combines comfort, quality, and style into a casual shoe. Join us as Giacomo gives a guided tour of the brand and the new FW collection, his creative process, and a sneak peek into the road that lies ahead.

GBlog: Known world-wide for being the absolute best in quality and design when it comes to footwear, Italy somehow seemed unable to renovate in the last few years. The industry needed a creative person like you to take this step toward a new direction. How did this happen? Where did it all start? Take us back to the origins of Volta!

Giacomo Piazza: Actually that’s one of the main reasons that drove us to start Volta. We are proudly Italian; we were and still are involved in the avant-garde of upcoming fashion, so we really feel that we have such a commitment.

Volta has been defined as “instant classic.” As an Italian brand, how does Volta revolutionize what people usually associate with Classic Italian in shoemaking?

I think we have done a proper hybrid between sneakers and brown shoes…that was something pretty new in terms of the aesthetic. Also, linking to what I mentioned before, we have always communicated our Italian roots in a modern way, not with the usual rhetoric as seen in the majority of Italian products.

We can’t say enough about how we appreciate the fact that someone – essentially the minds behind Volta – was finally able to find the right balance between casual/sportswear and dress/formal. How hard do you think it will be to continue to produce the right lines and styles, to keep walking this fine line?

For me, it’s about following my instinct and, at the same time, being strict in our foundation and continuing with our iconic models. About the seasonal collection… I’m so into sportswear (the proper, technical representation of that line) and high fashion, so I think what will come out for next FW [Fall/Winter] will be a new statement for Volta. I think we will be able, once again, to push the limit of the crossover. At the same time, we are going to expand a lot our iconic carryovers, and also remake some of our bestsellers from the previous seasons. I think customers will love to find – again – their favorites shoes.

Tell us about the FW2012 Collection. The “Dust to Dust” short film provides a powerful visual of the design, but we’d like to learn more. What inspired the collection, and what differentiates it from the looks from previous seasons?

This FW collection represented a new approach for me. After many seasons during which I worked according to a mood inspired by colors and fabrics, I started to work on a seasonal theme. This AW collection is named The Subterreans collection and is inspired by a trip that I made to Northern California, where I researched places and facts about the Beats… I think their style was the foundation of the streetwear and, actually, they were the original proto-hipsters. Basically, to me, they represent where everything started! “Dust to Dust” is not linked to the collection inspiration, but is more of a visual experiment on it.

When putting together new ideas for a collection, what goes into the creative process? Is there a point at which you can say, “this shoe is ready,” and if so, how do you know?

It’s very difficult to answer to this question. A new style is ready when I feel that it is ready. Then, of course, I have a review with my partners and my team; I try to listen to all the comments and if I think that someone’s opinion is right, I eventually re-think the shoe taking into consideration the good comments. But that depends on each case… sometimes I feel that something is really right and I just go on.

Every successful design, recipe, or artwork has a mysterious and special something that made them famous. What is the “secret ingredient” for Volta?

As I have always said, I think that what comes out from Volta is that it is a genuine product. We try so hard to be original and to work with passion. All the people working for Volta put so much passion and effort every single day so that this special magic will definitely show in our shoes. And that is what makes them special and different.

We all know the phenomena of Hush Puppies that took off in the 1990s, and how their design has set itself to last for the generations to come. How would you react if someone referred to Volta as Hush Puppies-gone-Italian?

I wish that we could establish something like that… My biggest wish is that some cool kid in 2050 will buy a pair of our Classic and make it the shoe of a generation, like what happened for Clark’s, Timberland, Bass, or Hush Puppies.

VW, Volta Woman’s Collection, recently launched this September. How is designing for women’s footwear different from designing for men’s, and why did the company decide to explore this new market sector?

To be honest, it’s pure fun! I love to design female shoes because you can really take whatever kind of risks. Guys in general are more careful and conservative, but girls love to be more colorful and experimental. We decided to develop VW because we felt that the unisex concept of the main line it was not enough. We wanted to build up something dedicated.

What do you foresee in the future for Volta?

Pointy shoes!!!

GBlog wishes to thank Giacomo for sharing his exciting stories and insights into Volta. Now, we want to give you – the reader – a chance to experience the passion, style, and elegance of Volta! Go ahead and leave a comment below to be automatically entered to win. For additional chances of winning friend us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. If you do all three, you will be entered three times! The giveaway runs for one week,  from October 22nd, 2012 to October 29, 2012. Winners will be picked using and will be announced here as well as being notified via email.

This giveaway is currently closed. – The winner is @hollymarie076. Congratulations!

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Kimberly is a graduate from MIT's Department of Architecture, and has recently joined the publication team at MIT OpenCourseWare. While architecture remains her first love, her interests encompass literature – epic poetry and Medieval romances are her favorite – and also fashion.

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