Skip to Navigation Skip to Content

Footwear Designer Franco Sarto Talks Methods, Inspirations and His Love for California Wine

From humble cobbler to internationally renowned designer, Franco Sarto has come a long way since he began working at a shoe factory at the age of 14. His roots as a shoemaker in Dolo, Italy have given Sarto the technical background to create footwear that is lasting, wearable, and versatile. Recently, Sarto made an appearance at Nordstorm in the Westfield San Francisco Centre to promote his new self-titled spring collection. After meeting with devoted fans and handing out autographed sketches, Sarto (and his translator) sat down with us to talk about his methods, inspirations, and his appreciation of California wine.


What is it about Franco Sarto footwear that has made them so popular?
A Franco Sarto shoe is one that can be worn by either mother or daughter, and only the color will change. Versatility drives my designs. I make shoes, which after 10 years, are still selling.

You put a lot of emphasis on wearability.
For a designer, sensibility is essential. You have to consider materials, design, and time. I do really in-depth research on materials. When a woman wears my shoes, I want her to say, "I want to wear these shoes forever. I never want to take them off."

Where does the inspiration for your designs come from?
My lifestyle requires me to travel a great deal. So, I go to various cities—Milan, New York, San Francisco, Paris—and I observe people. Watching people is my inspiration. Last night I was out to dinner in San Francisco and saw all these young women wearing all sorts of things. This is what feeds my ideas.

Have you ever thought about designing men’s shoes?
Yes. I am interested in all sorts of people—men, babies, children. But right now I want to do good by women. I am going to leave the future open.

What do you think of San Francisco?
For me San Francisco is beautiful. It is very interesting. I like the diversity of the city. When I travel, I like to understand how a place lives, how it moves, how it breathes. And you have great wine in California. Italy has been making wine forever, but California is fairly new to wine, and it is beautiful.