From big brands to startups, customization is a trend that has been growing significantly over the past few years and is showing no sign of slowing down. Italy-based company, ALIVESHOES, is taking the whole customization business model one step further, allowing people and brands to not only design their own shoes, but also sell them online in one unique platform.
Users design their own shoe, choosing between 50,000 combinations, then customize labels and packaging before creating their online shop. Once users collect a miniumum of fifteen pre-orders, ALIVESHOES produces the shoes in Italy and ships them directly to their customers within four to six weeks.
The startup was founded in Italy in “the shoe valley”, the oldest region of shoemakers, and has recently moved to Amsterdam to join Startup Bootcamp 2013, an accelerator program based in Europe. The team consists of Luca Botticelli, with more than ten years of shoe industry experience, Michele Torresi, their design guru, and Marco Ferroni, their CTO who has over 8 years of of engineering experience under his belt.
We chatted with Luca and asked him a couple of questions of our own.
1. What inspired you to start ALIVESHOES?
I’m from “the shoe valley”, as are my Co-founders. The shoe valley is a place in Italy where 80% of Italian-made shoes are sold. I grew up in the shoe industry and decided to drop out from my family business in luxury shoes 3 years ago to pursue this venture. Democratizing fashion through the internet is very inspiring, especially for someone like me who comes from a more “old school” fashion background. In addition to that, I am personally inspired by impossible tasks. Launching a shoe brand and selling shoes in minutes was once considered impossible, but now we’re making it possible.
As a team, we are inspired every day by all the people that are signing up on our site. They want to use our tools, create their brand and make their dreams come true. It’s really amazing to see their story and realizing that we can really help.
2. What value does ALIVESHOES have compared to other companies in the fashion tech space?
We let our users design shoes and sell them! The model has been done before with basic T-shirts by many competitors (Threadless, Tee Springs, Tee Public) but it hasn’t really been executed with more complex fashion products such as shoes. We give the users solid design tools, a versatile commerce platform, and the industrial platform to create the shoes. Our strengths lie in our understanding of shoe design, manufacturing, and tech: three strengths that are not common in the startup space.
3. What has been the hardest obstacle for you in starting ALIVESHOES? What has been your favorite part?
Gathering the right team is very, very difficult. Luckily now we have an expert in each area of the platform. Raising money has also been challenging since we’re pitching a very unique model. Finding the right investors has not been easy, especially in Europe.
Our favorite part is seeing that there are tons of people around the world that want to create and launch their own fashion brand and that we can help them turn their vision into reality.//
To keep up with the ALIVESHOES team, you can follow them here.
Kellie Friedman is the Research & Editorial Intern for TWF. Third Wave Fashion has been your fashion tech think tank since 2011. We publish the first ever printed fashion tech magazine, Third Wave. Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest in fashion tech + wearables.
Image via ALIVESHOES