The fashion world has long stamped “Made in Italy” on leather goods to indicate high-quality craftsmanship. But there are plenty of other locales with skilled makers that deserve just as much prestige. Husband-and-wife team Marina and Ricardo Larroudé have put down roots in one of them: Sapiranga, Brazil. In the industrial town in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, known for its shoe industry, they manufacture their eponymous shoe line and employ a growing fleet of local craftspeople.
For their latest campaign, the team sent Brazilian model Caroline Ribeiro to the factory to pose on the tables in silver pumps and dip her kitten heels into a basket of spare soles. Here, the co-founders offer a bit of insight into the whirlwind of the past three years, and where they plan to expand next.
CULTURED: Can you tell us about the inspirations behind the Party Drop campaign?
Marina Larroudé: The vision for the Party Drop campaign is deeply rooted in the origins and ethos of our brand. Since the inauguration of our factory in April, the space has sparked our imagination, inviting us to craft a narrative within its walls. The campaign encapsulates a harmonious blend of industrial rawness and the sophisticated allure of our collection. Drawing inspiration from those iconic, dream-evoking spreads in fashion magazines, we envisioned grand moments that captivate and resonate. After showcasing Larroudé's street style against the vibrant backdrop of Paris for our fall campaign, we felt it was the perfect time to pivot and present our brand in an innovative, contrasting light.
CULTURED: Why did you land on Sapiranga as the location for the factory and how have you seen the move impact the community there?
Ricardo Larroudé: Sapiranga emerged as our choice for the factory's location due to its esteemed reputation in Brazil for producing artisanal, high-quality shoes; it's truly the epicenter for top-tier shoemaking. By establishing our factory there, we have directly provided employment for 85 individuals and indirectly supported hundreds more. Our initiative reinvigorated various factories and suppliers, which faced stagnation during the pandemic. Furthermore, we extend health insurance benefits not only to our employees but also to their extended families.
Marina and I made a heartfelt commitment to the mayor, aspiring to elevate Sapiranga's recognition on par with Italy's shoe craftsmanship legacy. It's worth noting that the region around Sapiranga produces three times the number of shoes Italy [does]. We acknowledge there's more ground to cover for the community's betterment and our mission remains unwavering: to enhance, innovate, and continually foster job creation and opportunities.
CULTURED: What made Caroline Ribeiro the right person for this launch?
Marina: Caroline Ribeiro epitomizes the iconic supermodel era of the early 2000s. On a personal level, our professional journeys started at about the same time, but with me navigating the fashion world as an assistant and Caroline reigning supreme on the runways and major campaigns … Her trailblazing success served as a beacon for what a high-fashion model could achieve.
I've always been deeply inspired by her, cherishing snapshots of her Gucci campaigns on my Pinterest board. With Larroudé's campaign, we aimed to provide a “fashion history lesson” for the younger generation and evoke a sense of elegant nostalgia for those who lived through that era. We wanted to artfully bridge past references with present sentiments, and Caroline was the perfect muse for this endeavor.
CULTURED: You've grown to 90 employees in three years. What has tht looked like internally?
Ricardo: Adapting to such rapid growth has been both exhilarating and demanding. Internally, just as we settle into a moment of stability, we find ourselves pivoting and evolving. It feels like not just running a marathon, but sprinting through it. While we take immense pride in the milestones the brand has achieved, our eyes are consistently set on the horizon, wondering how we can elevate every facet of our operations—from production, market agility, and product refinement to trend forecasting, photoshoots, digital presence, and marketing strategies … The excitement lies in realizing that this is just the start of our journey, with endless possibilities ahead.