Salvatore Ferragamo Storefront

The Story Behind Salvatore Ferragamo at Brookfield Place

Brookfield Place happily welcomed Salvatore Ferragamo to its upscale shopping arena on April 7th, the same day that Ferragamo himself arrived at Ellis Island one hundred years ago. As a teenager arriving to this foreign city, Ferragamo never could have imagined that directly across the water would sit one of his very own stores.

"When looking out at Ellis Island, our entire staff draws great inspiration and are very proud to carry on the vision of our founder and his family,” said Tom Maccani, the Brookfield Place Ferragamo store manager. Tom continued to highlight how special it is for him to have the view of Ellis Island, which allows him to envision what sparked Ferragamo’s original idea for his amazing collection and strong brand.

Maccani shared Ferragamo’s influence on the fashion world and emphasized the value he held for a tightknit family.

After arriving in the United States, Ferragamo joined his brothers in Boston where they all worked together at a large commercial shoe factory. Ferragamo quickly realized that the large production and factory environment was not for him; he moved to California where he purchased a small boutique, the Hollywood Boot Company, and rapidly established himself within the movie industry. Although, Ferragamo was designing personalized shoes for actresses and movie sets, California did not fulfill his vision or overarching dream. In his mid-twenties, he ultimately traveled to Florence to immerse himself in the craftsmanship and interact with the artists that inspired his initial work; the Italian culture clearly sparked his creative energy and he remained there for the rest of his life.

Today, Ferragamo is known as the inventor of the wedge and his one of a kind invisible sandal won him the Neiman Marcus award. Ferragamo was known to “dress the person from toe to head” which is apparent in his distinctive, yet elegant shoe collection.

Even more important to Ferragamo than creating fashion he was passionate about, was including his family in his brand. Since the start of his company, Ferragamo wanted his wife and children to assist in all that he did. Once Ferragamo passed away, his wife, Wanda, took over the company.

Maccani explained that many high-end brands inquired if she was selling Salvatore Ferragamo since it was unheard of for a woman to run a business. Instead, Wanda responded by saying “no, but if you’re for sale, I’ll buy your brand.”

Salvatore Ferragamo is still a family owned business, with headquarters in Florence. In its third generation it has stores in China, Europe, Canada and the United States. The family has expanded on Ferragamo’s vision by making his brand global, but most significantly, Wanda created a men’s shoe collection – a large change from the former solely women’s fashion label.

It is difficult to convey the passion and emotions that are intertwined within the Salvatore Ferragamo store at Brookfield Place. Maccani could not emphasize the familial feeling of the brand enough; Ferragamo successfully created a family-like environment at work with great interactions between employees and the founding family members. When arriving at Ellis Island one hundred years ago, Ferragamo never could have imagined that his own store would be a globally admired fashion brand in the heart of New York’s new downtown. 

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