Relaxshoe, specialized in the production of comfort footwear, has been historically committed to innovation and to the search for authenticity, features that combine comfort, technology and style.
The pandemic, lockdowns and vicissitudes have not changed the Verona based company’s will to be the reference point for Italian comfortable shoes in the world. We interviewed Gianfranco Modenese, at the helm of the company together with his sons Giuseppe and Paolo.
Three brands represent Relaxshoe’s business; how were they born?
Since the very beginning, I’ve always tried to offer different types of footwear. Today we follow the same path by producing different lines, which are now divided into three brands. Relaxshoe is the historical brand of the company, initially designed as comfort shoe brand and then evolved over the years towards the fashion segment. Currently, this brand is mainly marketed abroad, where the Italian-style comfort shoe is highly appreciated.
Easy’n’Rose is a brand born from the need to get in touch with retailers directly, while Galmod represents the other “branch” of our company: the injected footwear.
The production varies from fully injected footwear (all plastic or EVA), to footwear with leather upper and injected rubber sole.
After two difficult years, what do you expect from the footwear market?
We hope that there will be a quick return to normal, even if new ways of purchasing footwear have been developed meanwhile. We too have boosted the e-commerce, a purchase method that was essential during the lockdown and that is still important even after the reopening of the stores.
In your opinion, is there a recipe to overcome the deadlock due to the unfortunate 2020?
After the lockdown and the pandemic, it has become even more urgent to visit customers. We worked on video calls but we believe seeing a shoe on video is different than seeing it live. For this reason, over the past year and a half, we have increased the number of visits to customers; without trade shows, it has been definitely challenging.
Has the pandemic changed the international market? Is the production back to Europe and Italy, as we hoped for?
Footwear import from the Far East is proving to be challenging. I believe that several companies will probably bring production back to Europe thus guaranteeing precise delivery times. Something is already happening, also because at the moment it is difficult to find containers to move goods and average transport prices have skyrocketed. Importing from some areas of the world is no longer convenient right now.
The health emergency has brought to the limelight the environmental one. What is your position regarding the need for the footwear industry to become more sustainable?
With this regard, we are constantly evolving. The world is changing and we must change too, also to meet consumer expectations. It is important to point out that Relaxshoe’s items are produced in an eco-sustainable way. We have also launched a series of ambitious green-related projects in different parts of the world.
For some time now, the materials we use, rigorously compliant with Reach regulations, have been tested at source. Furthermore, all the materials we use for our footwear are certified. Also, our company is now equipped with a system of photovoltaic panels that let the facilities be self-powered.
Do you consider your footwear to be “green” products?
Currently, it is impossible to produce totally “green” footwear, as some materials cannot be completely recycled, but what matters is that the entire production context is sustainable. Clean energy, regulations-compliant materials, tested and super-controlled, commitment to the mitigation of climate change and its social implications: this is how our shoes can be tagged as eco-friendly.
We talked about projects related to the environment in different parts of the world. What is it about?
These projects are particularly important to us as they let us offset the CO2 emissions that we cannot reduce. What we cannot do directly we do indirectly by supporting climate change mitigation projects in different parts of the world, which also contribute to improving the living conditions of populations. We are supporting the construction of a wind farm in Turkey and the protection of forest reserves in an area of Tanzania. These projects enclose far more important social and environmental implications than cannot be explained easily.
What are your future projects?
Improving ourselves day by day, this is our only real project.
We want to make ourselves known for a certain type of products, sports, comfort, casual and elegant, improving the quality of our production more and more, in order to reach an ever-wider range of customers, and bring the Italian style of footwear all over the world.