Designer Interview

By: Fashwire
Oct 28, 2021 01:09 PM

Could you tell us about your brand’s heritage/background?

I have worked for luxury men’s accessories companies throughout my career in New York and Montreal. It always struck me that men often received beloved leather goods from their fathers and held on to their belts for decades. Ask any man about their favorite belt or wallet, and you’ll get a story of where they bought it, and how proud they are of how it has held up. I want the same for women as well as men. I want to be the go-to, beautiful leather belt brand for generations to come. Sfalci is unisex -- It’s for anyone who desires a lifelong, beautifully made, classic leather belt. The quality of a SFALCI belt will last decades, and my hope is for the wearer to hand it down much like an heirloom.


How would you define luxury?

Luxury for me is knowing there is true value in a product because it was made well, by people who care. That’s the key for me and always has been. It has very little to do with the brand, or price paid. It’s about knowing the origin, and human story behind each piece.


What is the earliest design memory for your brand?

The first Sfalci piece was a camera strap I made for my boyfriend’s Leica M6 camera. I searched high and low for a simple, classic leather strap to give him as a birthday present — everything looked flashy or synthetic, or too bulky. I designed the perfect simple French Calf strap for him and his heavy camera, and he still uses it 6 years on. It’s buttery-soft, and it’s still available in the collection today. That was the first product I put my SFALCI logo on.


“The interesting thing about our leather is that no two patinas are alike; each one solely depends on the wearers' relationship with their leather piece.”


Could you share with our readers an interesting fact about leather?

I am a true lover of leather. What you see most commonly on the market (even from the best brands in the world), is heavily covered, over-"protected" leather - this is because the brands believe a customer wants their leather accessories to feel bulletproof. At Sfalci, we LOVE the natural hand-feel of an almost-naked, un-pigmented leather. The aniline dying process allows our leather belts to evolve, and they get so much BETTER with time. As our belts patina, they become more supple and soft by time and wear. We exclusively use full-grain leather, and we begin with the most perfect hides. The interesting thing about our leather is that no two patinas are alike; each one solely depends on the wearers' relationship with their leather piece. Think about it when you pick up your mother's old wallet or your dad's favorite belt.


Where do you find inspiration from, for Sfalci products?

My goal was always to grow the collection slowly, so I never force the creative process by any timeline. It’s important to me that I keep the collection very narrow, with the goal being simply that each piece is made with extraordinary attention and care. That said, the introduction of a new SFALCI piece usually starts with my library of favorite materials. I love leather and have spent many years visiting French and Italian tanneries, trade shows, and factories, at each place collecting gorgeous leather swatches to add to my library. When designing, I lovingly peruse through my raw materials and draw inspiration there through texture, and movement of the leather swatches.


What is your favorite part about creating and running your brand?

Without a doubt, it’s the pride I take in making something so simple, yet so exceptionally good! It’s the joy I get when someone who is really into leather gets excited about my brand, and we can nerd out about it. It’s working on a small scale with the best tanneries in the world, and the best leather artisans in Canada. I also just simply love that I can control the quality of what goes into my product.


How would you describe your personal style?

I like to play with my body’s silhouette - I like rigid thick cottons, natural linens, and baggy tops with high-waisted pants. Often, I feel like dressing in monochrome navy or white. I try to keep things slightly interesting. I love natural fabrics and enjoy mixing old things with new. I’m into understated details.


“The future of fashion will be reserved for brands that do fewer things, better.”


What sets Sfalci apart from the rest in the market?

Luxury belt brands have been traditionally geared towards a male clientele - to men - and at that, to a generation of men that is now entering retirement age. Sfalci aims to speak to a slightly younger urban professional; the kind that that strives for deeper meaning and connection to their perfectly curated image. Sfalci believes that the future of fashion will be reserved for brands that do fewer things, better.


What was your previous work experience before launching your brand?

I started my career working for a historic 115-year-old belt manufacturer in Montreal, Canada called Fullum and Holt. There, I collaborated with some of the best brands in the world to create belt collections for private labels. It was a huge learning experience. In 2012, I moved to New York City where I headed the product development for a luxury men’s brand called Ghurka. Ghurka sent me scouring Europe for the best leather qualities - that was such a unique and wonderful experience. All of this led me back to my roots in Montreal, working with my old master craftsman to bring my two passions -belt design and incredibly luxurious leather - into my own business.


What can Sfalci fans expect to see next?

I’m rolling out an exciting camera accessory collection - I’ll be launching this very soon, so look out for it!


Do you have a favorite piece that you have designed?

My pride and joy Sfalci belt is called The Loon. It’s great because it’s two of the most beautiful and luxuriously buttery pieces of leather, expertly stitched together, and held up by thick leather loops where a buckle would normally be. It’s amazing because you can wear it so many ways. It’s simple and extremely functional…yet it’s novel in its own away. I use the belt in a lot of my photography because to me, it just looks so fantastic and new.


We loved to hear about your Nonna’s golden rule. Could you please share it with our readers?

Sure! My Nonna, by the way, had her own beauty salon, which she ran until she was in her 80’s! The clientele, if I’m remembering correctly, were mostly older Italian women like her. I think she loved having her own beauty shop with her name above the door. While she was a very busy woman, her family definitely came first, and she would spend all day - in between clients - simmering sauce on the stove. She always used the best ingredients, took her time, and added LOVE! That’s the rule. Cook simply, using only the best ingredients, and always add love.


What were some hurdles you had to overcome in your business?

I’m still always overcoming some new kind of hurdle or another. I’ve launched the company on my own, and I’m truly a product person. My major hurdles have involved anything and everything besides getting the best product made - websites, shipping, marketing… Instagram advertising! Those all represent mini hurdles for me. I’m making my way over or around them little by little.