Marsèll – how a tough-looking capsule collection for Mr Porter got me excited about Italian-made shoes all over again
It’s been a good old while, and fittingly my return to blogging is on the subject of shoes, a subject in which I have a perennial interest and am always happy to be associated with.
Mr Porter bravely declared itself the home of the world’s best shoes recently, and a well-lubricated event at their Westfield HQ demonstrated their handle on high-end footwear, from the trad to the defiantly un-trad (hello Rick Owens futurist trainers). Among the exclusives on offer (an impressive list: Grenson, Officine Creative, Filling Pieces, Neil Barrett, Christopher Kane and more) I came across the Marsèll brand for the first time, specifically in the form of an impressive pair of black boots, featuring a distinguished contrast between two very differently-treated leathers. Workwear is definitely the wrong word here, though the polished toe cap detail suggests serious resilience, equally the word distressed fails to convey the full sense of artisanal luxury of the weathered main body of the boot. Overall, I was reminded of the sturdy footwear of Dirk Bikkembergs whose stridently bulky boots with their distinctive wrap around laces threaded through the heel were much sought after in the 90’s. Below, co-founder of the Milan-based brand, Mirko Rizzi tells us a bit more about Marsèll’s singular approach to design.
Tell us about the capsule you did for MR PORTER?
We decided to focus on the concept of the combat boot. To achieve a capsule with a strong and aggressive attitude a preponderance of black and dark grey is evident in the colour palette, this together with the weathered and worn-in leathers employed results in the singular Marsèll signature style.
What were the influences or inspiration for this MR PORTER exclusive capsule
We started with a request from Mr Porter to develop an aggressive and strong collection inspired by the concept of the combat boots and took it from there.
Why did you partner with MR PORTER on this capsule?
We see in Mr Porter a great partner and we believe it is one of the best e-commerce platforms out there for men’s footwear. It was also interesting to work so closely with a retailer on developing a particular facet of our aesthetic and growing it into a full capsule. We enjoyed the
possibility of re-interpreting one of the historical models from the Marsèll archive exclusively for Mr Porter, to create this capsule.
Is there a specific design philosophy you follow as a brand?
Tradition lies at the base of our creative and production process, a process that welcomes influences and inspiration and contamination from all areas of contemporary cultural life. We are designers but we do not reject or ignore artisanal tradition and rules but rather embrace them to
reinterpret them in an independent and personal way. We think that the resulting modern aesthetic is personal to Marsèll and gives the collection its unique flavor and is its defining characteristic.
Most brands have a particular facet to their shoes that is identifiable as unique to that
brand – what is yours?
The finishing, the deconstructed and imprecise aspect, the androgynous and unisex style are what identify a Marsèll shoe.
What does the future hold for Marsèll?
Many, many projects in the pipeline, watch this space!
Postscript: speaking of spaces, the Marsèll showroom in Milan also functions as a unique exhibition space. Called Marsèlleria, it looks like somewhere to definitely check out next time you are in the city, and adds to the mystique of Marsèll as another Italian brand with a belief in design as something that really matters.
The capsule collection exclusively for Mr Porter (top image is the boots that started it all for me):
Other beauties from the current Marsèll range for Mr Porter: