re-souL in Italy (pt 5 of 5) : MOMA

re-souL in italy : moma factory 04

MOMA’s design studio chalk board

If you’re familiar with re-souL, you’re probably aware of our shoe collections, many of which are specialty handmade products that we’ve imported. We are often asked about how this happens and while it is not as glamorous as you might imagine, we do travel to Italy twice each year, working to select the products that we feature in the shop. This post is the final in a five part series in which we’ll try to describe our trip, the places we go and the people with which we do business. (If you haven’t read the first four parts in the ‘re-souL in Italy’ series, you can catch up here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)

Midnight Over My Action.  It is not easily translated.  The phrase which inspires the creative energy behind the product is an enigma.  It is the wrinkles on your face and the scars which tell the story of your experience in life.  It is your unique expression, only yours.  It is the same with all things in nature.  Moss grows on the sides of trees, soil erodes where the rains have exploited a weakness.  Rust forms on the side of an old abandoned steel barrel.  All of these things are the evolution of something previous, an expression of history.  MOMA shoes began in 1991 with the thought of creating experiences, not shoes.

re-souL in italy : morrovale countryside

View from the factory window

I began writing this post, our last in the Italy series, with the same approach as previous.  I was going to write about the beautiful countryside, arriving to the town of Morrovalle, up in the hills.  I was going to write about arriving at a place which resembled more a ranch house than a factory.  The people, the smiles, the pride, all of that.  Sure, we toured the place, it was marvelous, well organized and productive.  The shoes are very well made, but that doesn’t really tell the story of MOMA shoes.

re-souL in italy : moma factory 01

Raw materials and some upper patterns

I’ve written before about the creativity and inspiration behind the making of fine shoes.  It’s inherent with many Italian traditions.  MOMA is not just another example, moreover, MOMA is defined by it’s own life choices, history and talent.  Gigio and Daniele Gironacci, the two brothers through their own experiences, in the abstract, came to imagine the culture that is Midnight Over My Action.

re-souL in italy : moma factory sewing

Uppers being sewn

Yes of course they make shoes but that is not the point.   The shoes are conceived long before the leathers are cut.  They are imagined as concepts well before even a sketch is made.  For it is the love of nature and time that comes to inspire design.  Then it is the shapes and materials, the last, the leathers which come into play.  Daniele and Gigio are hands-on: with dirty, weathered hands, working the material, and imagining the potential.  Now there are more brothers, the sons who are steeped in the concepts and now part of the process.

re-souL in italy : moma factory 02

various work stations

Now a shout out to Ricardo, who for us has always been the face of MOMA shoes.  To us, Ricardo is the lost brother with a big contagious smile.  He acts as the production manager, which probably doesn’t really define his role with the company.  For us he has made it easy for us to understand.  Ricardo arranged our visit and led us through the factory, explaining all the processes and showing us in detail about how the product is made.  There is precision at every step as the shoes are formed from raw materials into what anyone might consider to be a finished product.

Then there is some magic.  There are company secrets involved, a special potion, followed by a lot of detailed finishing, all by hand.

I hope you enjoy the pictures, but they only tell a small portion of the story.  The true magic about MOMA shoes cannot be photographed.

re-souL in italy : moma factory 03

top: shoes curing on the racks, bottom: shoes being tumbled in the secret recipe

I hope you will come visit re-souL someday soon and try a pair of MOMA shoes for yourself.  While carefully crafted and expertly replicated, no two pairs are every really alike.  Think of it as meeting a new friend, or an old one for that matter.  Look closely, examine the details, see it’s countenance as like your friend’s face and try to understand its experience.  Then, know that these shoes will be your companion for many miles and over time, they will show your experience in their own.  MOMA shoes are built to last and to show character, tell stories, they will be yours and only yours.

re-souL in italy : moma factory 05

Everything begins and ends here.  The woman on the left is sewing patterns and on the right, she is inspecting and boxing the finished product.

Ricardo and Lucca treated us to lunch after our visit.  I could go on about the experience of a 2 hour lunch, but the best part was getting to know each other personally.  There were some language barriers, but in the end we were showing pictures to each other, telling stories about our lives, our family, our friends and how we live.  The man who owned the restaurant figured us as family.  While he had not been to Seattle, he knew Vancouver BC (our neighbor city) and told us a grand tale involving football (soccer).  He had marvelous expression in his face, an explosive voice and he gestured wildly.  I hope we get to meet again.

Lunch in Morrovalle

More about MOMA shoes:

> Rock and Roll Handcrafters

> Cool Video shows some of the process.

Thanks for reading!

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