Behind the Seams: Pedro García, a Family Devoted to the Business of Shoes
Every family has traditions, and for three generations, the Pedro García clan has artistically produced fine footwear while redefining luxury from a “Made in Spain” point of view. This family of shoemakers draws upon its heritage and uncompromising craftsmanship to continuously keep the design-conscious one step ahead of the pack.
So what exactly goes into the creation of a Pedro García shoe? From designers to patternmakers, 89 people are involved in the process between conception and the time the shoes actually grace your feet. We sought out two very important people who lead this unique design process—brother-and-sister duo Mila and Pedro García—and talked shop with them from their Elda headquarters in Alicante, Spain.
THE THREAD: For many women, shoes are the ultimate objects of desire. What is it about a pair of Pedro García shoes that so enchants women of all ages and demographics?
PEDRO GARCÍA: For us, as we often say, our shoes speak for themselves. The strength of our styles is their design; that is what makes them so peculiar and desirable. Besides, we have always thought that seductive design can be perfectly combined with comfort. That mixture is what makes a style a definite must-have.
You represent three generations of shoemakers. Did you always want to get into the family business? How have you both expanded the brand’s identity and aesthetic?
PG: As children, neither of us pictured ourselves in the family business, but in fact, it was a very natural process. I started with summer internships at the factory, which were a necessary experience for me to decide whether or not I wanted to continue with the company. After came the academic training period in Milan and the FIT. At that time, Mila already had beginning traveling to the U.S. with our father and helping him in practically every aspect of the business. Then, in 1991, our father invited us to join the company in its next epoch. Building a business of the scale we wanted required a huge effort and investment from all of us, but we agreed to undertake the venture together. We had to build a brand and—more specifically in the design field—we had to create a design identity for the brand we were building. Dale (my American girlfriend) and I have been at the helm of creative direction since 1992, and we had to start from the foundations. Mila has always been the director of the company, in charge of marketing especially. We have always had very clear business goals, and although communication between us has always been very fluent, we think that from the very beginning, we knew that each of us had a specific working area in which the other one shouldn’t interfere.
Pedro García ‘Mariel’ Sandal
In December, you released the book Pedro García: Three Generations of Shoemakers. As you were putting together this memoir on your father’s life, which chapter or section in the book moved you the most?
PG: Now that it is finished, we realize that putting this book together has been important not only for my father but also for us. Our father played the most important role in making our family business last. He inherited the business from our grandfather and had the talent and the power to make it bigger and stronger, and then he knew how to handle the transition from the first generation to us, the third one. That is what this book has made clear for us, and maybe this is what moves us the most: to realize how our father has helped us and how inspiring his example has been. How he has made us more than just designers or shoe manufacturers. He has shown us what it means to be an entrepreneur, and shown us the risks involved as well. He has helped me and Mila to think big.
As well, the chapter when, in 1965, he decides to travel to New York alone, only accompanied by the samples of his collection packed in ten suitcases, certainly is particularly touching for all the family.
Pedro García ‘Mika’ Sandal
The phrase “Made in Spain” is associated with your brand’s DNA. How do you fuse Spanish culture into your designs? Do you agree with the statement that creativity defines a nation’s strength?
PG: Yes, our brand is clearly and unquestionably associated with the “Made in Spain” mark. But we don’t think we can define our design as particularly Spanish. We must design while keeping the international market in mind. Our brand is Spanish because we are a Spanish family of shoemakers that owns a Spanish company and—mainly—because our shoes are manufactured in Spain, exclusively in our home area: Elda, Alicante, a shoemaking city with highly skilled artisans. To be “Made in Spain” implies for us a strong sense of responsibility toward “our people.” We aim to have the business make a positive impact in our area, and that is why 100% of our production is manufactured in Elda. That’s also why “Made in Spain” appears in our logo.
Pedro García ‘Pamela’ Sandal
Tell us about the creative direction for your spring/summer 2013 campaign and collection. What unique design elements are standouts for this season?
PG: The mood of our collection for this spring and summer is “exuberant and flirty,” as we say in our catalog. It is enthusiastic, positive, optimistic—good-humored, in a way. It has some obvious winks and references to the Flirty ’50s, like in the printed wedges and the cutouts of the Tropical Castoro group, or in the Patent group, where we use very contemporary colors or elements like the metallic spike heels to reinvent classic styles and give them a new vintage appeal. But one of the big standouts this season is the use of electrifying neon colors mixed with micro-crystal in our flat sandals. The Patent collection is also presented in some vibrant neon colors too. That increases the party-party mood. Even our vachetta leather sandals appear this season as multi-straps, with plenty of buckles and on top of serrated rubber soles or mixed with python. It’s all kinds of playful and excessive.
In fact, we design in a very organic, fluid way, meaning that we evolve from one collection to the next one in a sort of an ongoing manner, but we always seek to find something new and exciting that makes the new styles look really different and unique. However, there are certain traits or materials we have been using for a long time and that have become part of our design identity. We call them our icons: Swarovski crystals on flat sandals, anatomical soles on high heels, rough-hewn finish on some materials like vachetta leather or satin.
Pedro García ‘Galatea’ Sandal
What does a pair of shoes say about someone’s overall style?
PG: Shoes say a lot about a person and her or his style. But what they say depends on many things: the rest of the outfit, the occasion, what the woman or the man feels or wants to express. But mainly, it depends on the eyes of the person looking at them.
Pedro García ‘Yoshi’ Smoking Slipper
L to R: Lana del Rey, Kristen Stewart and Drew Barrymore are just a few of the brand’s celebrity fans.
When it comes to celebrities, who is the ultimate Pedro García girl?
PG: We feel honored when we see celebrities wearing our shoes, but we don’t consider ourselves a red carpet brand. What’s really satisfying is when celebrities have actually purchased a pair of our shoes for themselves.
Slip into a chic pair of Pedro García shoes from the spring ’13 collection.
Photos courtesy of Pedro García