Sandals are the height of fashion in the summer. Flat and strappy, colourful and cool, they are perfect for hot, sunny days; walking miles on the cobbled streets of far-flung destinations; and turning even the simplest dress into an elevated outfit.
Not all sandals are created equal, however. Pick a cheap model, and you might end up barefoot before you’ve even tasted the first Spritz of the night. Choose a handmade number, on the other hand, and you’ll never need to buy another pair again.
Artisanal sandals are of another league. They’re sturdy and reliable, luxe without trying too hard, unique by nature and, best of it all, never go out of style.
Just look at our latest crush: The expertly crafted shoes of Mario d’Ischia.
A family-run business first established in 1958 as a clothing brand, the Ischia-based shoe maker (easily reachable from Mezzatorre) has been delivering timeless sandals to wear over and over again each summer for the past two decades, mastering the art of holiday-ready footwear.
Its products – four of which are now on ISSIMO – speak for themselves. Featuring only the highest quality leather from Tuscany, a customised approach to design, and a variety of colours, each sandal is essentially a standout piece of fashion and, just as importantly, Italianità.
To celebrate their launch on ISSIMO, we spoke to the man behind them all, Gioacchino Sacchetti, Mario d’Ischia’s son-in-law and the current head of the brand.
Tell us a bit about the history of Mario d’Ischia. How did it go from making clothes to making shoes?
My father-in-law opened our boutique in Lacco Ameno in the late 50s, where it still stands today, as a made-to-order clothing shop. He was a fantastic tailor, but never really made shoes. One summer about two decades ago, after I just joined the company, we ordered some sandals from an artisan on the Sorrento coast to sell alongside our creations. They proved so popular I decided to learn how to make them myself.
I spent some time with that master artisan to hone the craft and really understand how to make shoes that could stand the test of time. That’s how we got here.
How would you describe Mario d’Ischia in three words?
I think it represents craftsmanship, Mediterranean style, and quality.
Where do you find inspiration for each model?
Would you say they work for specific outfits?
Not really. All our sandals can be dressed up or down, so it’s the wearer who gets to decide how to style them. You could pair them with a flowy dress or a pair of jeans, shorts or a kaftan. I like to make shoes that are adaptable and that you can play with.
Campania, where Ischia is, has a very strong tradition in shoemaking. Why do you think that is?
We are a fiercely proud region, and I believe that reflects in the way we approach artisanal work. There’s a respect for things made by hand here, sandals included. You see it in Capri, the Amalfi Coast, and of course Ischia. People have a true appreciation for quality.
You have your workshop in Ischia but are now on ISSIMO too. What does that mean for the brand?
I think it’s a great opportunity to get more visibility. Craftsmanship is the backbone of our country, yet it’s so often overlooked. To have a platform that spotlights us is fantastic – I wish there were more entrepreneurs that did that.