The most enduring fashion brands usually start by solving a conundrum. For Ruco Line founders Marco Santucci and Daniela Penchini it was finding the ideal footwear for a consummate traveller that wouldn't break the bank - or an ankle.
Fellow market vendors in 1980s Perugia, the pair were deeply influenced by the footwear they found on their travels - particularly the crocheted slippers Santucci brought back from a sojourn in the Dominican Republic. Still they'd never found a pair smart enough for an evening out in the tropics yet relaxed enough for a stroll on the boardwalk.
Their solution? The 'tricot', a cross between a flamboyant trainer and a casual stiletto or, as the pair still call it, 'a couture sneaker'. The tricot spawned literally hundreds of variations.
Now completing their 25th year designing and manufacturing rubber-soled shoes with flash, Santucci and Penchini have built a thriving chain of boutiques called Ruco Line, from Penchini's pet name for Santucci, the Italian for 'turtle'. To celebrate, they've put out a sleek hardcover document of their journey, featuring panoramas of their incredible loft headquarters in a converted tobacco factory in Umbria and candid snaps of the creative process.
A sort of elaborate travel journal for the designers, the book follows their personal love affair, their design evolution and the brand's expansion from the charming heritage properties of Italy and Eastern Europe to the malls of Dubai and the towers of the Far East.
Interspersed are fascinating portraits of the Ruco Line 'family' of employees, and an assortment of fresh-faced customers from London to Tokyo.