Fracap is one of those rare, family owned brands making product for over a century thats still relevant today. The company, based in Lecce, Italy, has been making exquisitely crafted leather boots since 1908, when renowned craftsman Antonio Cappello opened his first workshop. The craftsmanship was based on an old tradition rooted in the country side of Monteroni di Lecce, a small town of around 800 families that specialized in the production of footwear suitable for the fishing and agricultural industries. In 1948 Cappello left the company to his two sons, Alfredo and Giovanni, who changed the name of the family business to Fracap, made out of Fratello Cappello (Cappello Bros.). In 1987, Alfredo's sons, Anthony and Michael took over the reins of the family business and began making footwear for the Italian Army, the Air Force, Navy and Carabinieri.
Today, Calzaturificio Fracap uses leathers from fine Italian tanneries and materials made in Italy. WATM caught up with Antonio Capello and creative consultant Jonathan Soriano as the brand releases a collaboration with Harris Tweed.
See the full AW13 collection at Capsule Berlin, January 15-16 and Paris, January 18-20.
Whats the story behind the brands current incarnation?
The Cappello family is the incarnation of the brand. Michele and Antonio are third generation shoemakers after their father Alfredo and grandfather Antonio. The family has adapted for over a century through wars, economic crises and industrialization. But at the end of the day they are still shoemakers like their grandfather and father. They have adapted to the local market, to a demand for their product in Japan and for the same for big on liners and now looking to expanding to other markets.
Is the brand evolving to appeal to the #menswear scene? If so, how?
Fracap has always appealed to the menswear scene. They are craftsmen of footwear and accommodated everybody in their local area. So to answer the question, Antonio Cappello once said that everybody has Fracap in their mouth (talking about it) but not on their feet, so lets change this and adapt. And adapting is really using the classic styles and making them contemporary.
What are some of the qualities that are specific to the brand?
The main qualities of our shoes are the strength and quality of the materials used, all of Italian origin and staying true to what was handed down.
What are key styles for the brand and what will you be showing for AW13 at Capsule?
The scarponcini and the monkey boot has always been key styles sales wise for Fracap, especially for the Japanese market where the brand really got its notarizing. But we have focused on changing up some of the key styles and reintroducing styles and reinventing the old guard like the Alto boot.
Local production and traditional handicrafts are becoming more and more important to men these days. Why do you think that is?
There are not many people who dont appreciate well crafted products and regarding local production the trend and the consciousness of the consumer are more and more pushed towards a more environmental and greener production. And not to forget the economic loyalty, maybe, in supporting local, be it Italian or European production.
Tell us a bit about Lecce and the factory. How has the factory managed to survive for over a century, in an age when much manufacturing is being moved to Asia?
Monteroni di Lecce is a small town outside Lecce. The history of the region is massive and is one of the archeological cradles of Italy and the family is so much a part of the region that Antonio and Micheles nephew has written a book about the regions history. As for the factory, the Cappello family has produced for the local area in Puglia for over a century. They have adapted through many years servicing the local community, the military, fishermen, a boys confirmation and whoever came in to their workshop in need. A good local shoemaker. There were times when the brand was big in Bavaria and the exports and local business employed 20 people in the workshop. Like the economy, it goes up and down but the family has always survived the changes of history.
Can you give us a little insight into the manufacturing process please? What are some of the techniques used by the master craftsmen in the factory?
Our production process is divided into four stages: cutting, sewing, assembly and finishing.
Cutting: In this phase we chose the part of the skin, line out the shapes and carve out what we need.
Seam: Then we assemble the bits and pieces and start sewing the upper together.
Assembly: The upper is then mounted on the shapes and then polished. Then we apply a midsole and sewing it together with the skin of the upper. At this point the sole is glued and then milled and sanded.
Finishing: shoes, depending on the different types of leather, are brushed with cream or wax to give that extra touch that sets them apart.
Whats next for the brand?
We plan to continue to make quality products and make the Fracap brand available and accessible region by region.
Do you have any special product or collabos or other news coming down the pipeline?
We just launched a little project on the Z525 Alto Boot using materials by Harris Tweed by Chinorocks X Joachim7inch. There will be a few more projects like this with these two creatives in the future.
I have been helping the family out with the collections for the past 3 seasons including the upcoming FW13 season. And it came about over a lunch in July with Joachim Friis aka Joachim7inch (another Copenhagen creative that also has done collabs with One True Saxon among other stuff), that I suggested we did something together. He asked me about my work for Fracap and when the lunch was over we had decided that we would do a collabo of some sorts under the alias by Chinorocks X Joachim7inch. Over the next week we had a new meeting where we had talked to the Cappello family and contacted Kristina at Harris Tweed Authority. It took a couple of months to pull things through and voila: On December 6, 2012 Silas from Soulland opened his doors for a successful launch at their retail location, US Import, in Copenhagen.
It took some planning getting final samples out and just agreeing on the creative output but it worked out.
Joachim7inch and I agreed that for this project we would only do 30 pairs where 24 would be made available to the public, from our web shop that will open this Monday. So Thursday was the launch/introduction and then they will be made available Monday at www.darknginger.com.