After teaming up with New Balance on a cobranded capsule centered on the 327 model, Charaf Tajer, the founder of hip London-based label Casablanca, sensed the potential of the footwear category and scouted a production partner.
Fear of God’s Jerry Lorenzo and Aimé Leon Dore’s founder Teddy Santis had similar experiences.
Coincidentally, they all ran into Search N Design, an Italy-based shoe specialist, which has no production capacity of its own but proved reliable and flexible.
Based in Civitanova Marche, Italy and with an expected turnover of €8.9 million in 2022, the company has built a formula securing competitive advantage despite having no manufacturing plants.
Founded in 2016, it leverages the expertise of Ubaldo Malvestiti, a shoe specialist with a 40-year-plus experience in the sector who serves as head of research and development; his son Diego Malvestiti, chief executive officer of the company; his daughter Eleonora Malvestiti, head of the technical department, and art director Marco Macellari.
Diego Malvestiti describes the company as an ecosystem “combining different skills to serve brands and companies develop their own supply chain.”
The firm offers services spanning from design consultancy and development, prototyping and manufacturing, allowing each client to apply for the whole package or just for one step.
“The major difference with other footwear manufacturers is the design function,” said Malvestiti. “We manage to reduce time-to-market by offering a service that guarantees hiccups are fixed during the design steps, before prototyping,” he explained.
Macellari characterized the company’s clients, which also includes Herno, MSGM and Pyer Moss, among others, as partners.
As for its manufacturing prowess, the company leverages a wide network of small and medium-sized enterprises to deliver products in a timely manner. It contributes to Search N Design’s nimble and flexible structure and ability to develop footwear across styles, including sneakers, heeled shoes and formal designs.
“Our goal is to establish synergies [between companies] and create a common ground to manufacture shoes,” Malvestiti said, noting this could attract talents to the renowned shoe hub in the Marche region which is suffering from lack of a generational handover and advance the supply chain by embedding new-gen technologies such as AI and robotics.
“The Covid-19 pandemic caused several issues to the supply chain, especially to companies manufacturing in Asia and although we don’t have the same production capacity, we need to ensure local production can meet brands’ needs in a timely manner, otherwise we risk losing a great opportunity in terms of job creation,” Malvestiti said.
To ensure continuity to its expansion plan and cement its production capacity of 170,000 shoes per year, Search N Design has acquired its first production facility this year and has plans to develop its footprint with offices in Milan and Los Angeles.
In addition to serving as a third-party developer, the firm also operates three house brands, including Hyusto, a formal shoe label with a contemporary and casual twist; Sense of Symmetry which banks on design research to deliver hybrid footwear combining elements of the sneakers and formal shoes worlds, and Kansha, a sustainable brands centered on the use of wool sourced in the Marche region to craft the shoes’ upper body.