Jul 05, 2014

Interview: Dan Amzallag and Fabrizio Corveddu, Founders of Rivieras Leisure Shoes

Many who knows me have all heard me lamenting about...

Many who knows me have all heard me lamenting about the sloppy dressing and flip-flops that Singaporeans wear everywhere they go.  Surely there must be better alternatives for summer (warm weather) shoes than the ugly rubber flip-flops. Thus, it is this need and responsibility that I have taken upon myself to introduce Rivieras, the casual shoes for the chic and chill look.

Founded in 2009 by Dan Amzallag and Fabrizio Corveddu, the cool Rivieras slip-on shoes are so comfortable to wear and importantly, it looks super stylish and comes in a variety of fabrics — mesh, cotton canvas and even denim — that will meet the taste of every need. The brand has done special collaborations with artistes and designers – for example Edison Chan’s streetwear label CLOT, which propelled its popularity in the Asian market.

The 2 founders Dan and Fabrizio were in Singapore recently and I was privileged to get a 1-1 interview with them ( after being a huge fan of the brand for a while). Here are some of the questions I asked the duo during our 45 minutes interview…

 HSD: Hi Dan and Fabrizio, could you tell me why did you decide to create the Rivieras Shoes?

It all started because both of us love the summer and leisure lifestyle but for the longest time, we find it hard to find the perfect pairs of shoes to wear. There were a lot of sneakers and slip-on shoes like VANS for example, but they were too casual and young for both of us. We are 35 and 40 years old and wanted something that’s more chic and sophisticated that we can wear leisurely on the beach, but also nice enough for us to wear out for a drink in the evening. Therefore, we decided to design something our own and came up with Rivieras.

HSD: I heard that the shoes were inspired by the beach shoes from Costa Blanca in Spain, what’s the story?

Yes, the basic design and shape of a pair of Rivieras was inspired by a ‘fisherman’ shoe worn commonly Spanish Costa Blanca in the 50s. The original shoes were very common – there were many styles and brands sold in Spain – and made of tougher material. Both of us like the style and were wearing, and it made us stood out cause nobody was wearing it anymore except the older folks.  With it as an inspiration, we took the basic shape of the shoe, modernizes it and experimented with various types of materials to make it fit into the modern lifestyle. In fact, details like the heels we added on each pairs of Rivieras make it look very chic and different from a normal slip-on.

HSD: Did you ever knew that the brand will become so popular?

No, in fact when we first started, we only made 300 pairs of shoes and was selling it to our friends in our small office in Paris. I believe things took a turn when we did our very first collaboration with Christophe Lemaire, who at that time was a designer at Lacoste. We liked him and the stuff he did and it was a natural collaboration that happened. At the time when we were launching the collaboration, it was also announced that he was joining Hermes as a designer and that really help put our name in the public. I guess from then on, we started to grow.

HSD: On the subject of collaboration, tell us about your collaboration with Edison Chan’s CLOT.

There was an interesting story to this. One day, we suddenly noticed that there was a surge in online sales of our shoes from the Chinese market. We were really curious and contacted our reselling partner Kapok in Hong Kong and they told us that this celebrity named Edison Chan was a huge fan of Rivieras. The Chinese media and paparazzi had taken photos of him in the shoes and it became very popular suddenly. Soon, through friends we knew that while we were traveling, we were eventually introduced to Edison Chan and we became friends. Edison had many ideas and before we knew it, we were taking about a collaboration. The first collaboration called Coupe Sport was launched in 2013 and did really well. This year, we are launching the second collaboration with CLOT in June with Coupe Sport “Day & Night” (see picture below) and also something in September.

 

HSD: How many countries are you now selling your shoes? Which is your biggest market?

About 20 countries – in most European countries, the US and Asia countries like Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and we are looking to go into Indonesia next. For us, Japan is our biggest market and we have a lot of fans and demand there, and we have very good partners and distribution channels there. We also find that the Rivieras shoes seemed to fit the Asian market more because the chic design and slimmer shape of the shoe fit the Asians very much.

HSD: Having been around for 5 years now, how many pairs of Rivieras would you estimate to have sold?

Haha… we are very fortunate. I think we have sold more than 1 million pairs of Rivieras since we launched.

HSD: Wow, congratulations on that. Can you tell me more about the shoe itself and what are your plans to develop the brand further?

Well, as mentioned, the shoe design is largely inspired by the Spanish shoe and this basic design will remain. It comes in what we call the 10°c, 20°c and 30°c variation to address the breathability of the shoe (through materials used and mesh) for cooler or warmer weather. The simple design of the shoe allows us to experiment with many materials, fabrics and colors and we are always looking to create something new. We have been asked if we intend to introduce shoe laces or even a winter shoe, but we strongly believe that the Rivieras, as the name suggest, is all about a leisure summer lifestyle and we intend to focus on that direction.

We are planning to develop the brand further by exploring to create new products that reflect the Rivieras lifestyle. For example, we are looking into bags and related products. We are introducing prints also working very closely with our resellers and we might have collections that are exclusively created for each resellers for they can market it exclusively through their channel.

HSD: That’s wonderful. I am looking forward to it. Now, before we go, can you give us some advice for dressing in the hot summer (Singapore) weather.

In Paris, people dress leisurely in summer but still very chic because it is a beautiful season for us. In Singapore, I realized that it is hot all year and people might be be dressing out of practicality rather than style. I think that is the difference. For me, I like to always have a vest (jacket) with me to create layers.  Even if I don’t wear it and just throw it over my shoulder, it still know very manly and stylish. And oh very importantly, stop wearing flip flops like H********.

 

 

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