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Luigi Sardo is an upstart shoe brand that has been making waves in the footwear market. Founded in 2008 by Markus Lacaria as a solution to his ever-growing shoe addiction, the brand has grown to include four models in multiple colour ways. The shoes are all designed in Canada and handmade in Portugal. We sat down with the founder to see what makes him tick and how it influences his brand.
Why did you decide to first launch Luigi Sardo? There are lots of shoes out there on the market, what did you want to bring that was different to the market?
Markus: As someone with a shoe problem, I figured it would be a good way to get free shoes if I started designing them. That was originally how it started, so I designed a shoe I wanted, made them, but made enough to sell some and break even, and then I’d keep the rest for myself. After that, I made more, and eventually it took off as a brand that offers colour and material variations in various styles.
What is it like to launch a brand from a city like Toronto rather than one of the big hubs of fashion (NYC, Paris, London, Milan)?
Markus: Well I haven’t been to Paris, London or Milan, but New York I have. I imagine it would be very competitive to launch in a city of that scale, so maybe coming from Toronto, which is much smaller, is a blessing? I don’t know, hard to say, but coming from where I’m from, you learn to be resourceful and patient.
From what I have read about you, you love shoes and that’s what made you launch a shoe company, correct? So what is your go to pair of shoes (besides your own brand)?
Markus: Yeah that’s right, I love shoes, so I started a shoe company. I don’t have a go-to brand per say, but, I do have a style that I love to wear, and that’s the crappy plimsolls things you get at WalMart in the women’s shoe section on hangers for like $8. I love those.
Okay, if we let you name your own shoes, what is your favourite pair from Luigi Sardo?
Markus: Francesco right now is my favourite. That’s a high top boot with a crepe sole, very rugged but comfy and stylish.
And who do you think is killing it out there on the shoe front?
Markus: Feit. They’re consistently dope.
What shoe brand do you aspire to be one day?
Markus: I guess one that stands the test of time. I’d love to see a pair of boots I made in 20 years on some kid who was given them from his father.
The shoe game seems to be all about collaborations these days – any one in particular you would want to collaborate with? Another designer? Musician? Etc?
Markus: Action Bronson would be cool to collab with… I think he’s my spirit animal.
What inspires your collections? Other designers? Other fields? Music? Art?
Markus: Functionality, needs, skateboarding, rap and folk music, and Roman architecture. That’s really random, I know, but that’s how I am, variety is the spice of life.
What guiding principles drive your brand?
Markus: Quality is definitely at the core, then accessibility and freedom. What that translates to is a brand that makes extremely high quality product, at prices that reflect value of the product, without promoting a lifestyle or way of acting. Everyone can wear Luigi Sardo, and I think that’s what gets me going most, seeing a 20 year old or a 55 year old wearing a pair of Domenico’s and feeling great in them. I’ve been having a great time doing all this, and I hope it stays that way.
What can we expect from you guys next?
Markus: Getting back to our sneaker roots, opening new markets, and some new colour ways in current styles for subsequent seasons.