Armando Pollini, a veteran footwear designer and entrepreneur, the founder of Armando Pollini Design and an avid experimenter who created many iconic shoe models, died of a heart attack on June 18 at the age of 85. 

Born in the Italian town of Vigevano, near Milan, in 1935, Pollini devoted his life to the footwear industry, carving a name for himself over the decades. The son of a model maker and an edger who grew up in Italy’s “capital of footwear,” Pollini was passionate about shoemaking from a young age. 

After starting to work with his father in the 1950s, in 1957 he went to Paris, where he met promising young colleagues such as Paco Rabanne and Kenzo, and opened his first shoe workshop in 1958. 

Pollini’s big break came in the 1960s, when he started collaborating with visionary Italian fashion designer Elio Fiorucci, with whom he also traveled to London in the 1960s and New York in 1970s, following and helping shape the latest global fashion trends. 

His namesake company Armando Pollini Design was established in 1981. It was acquired by the Italian luxury goods group Aeffe in 2000.

A keen traveler with a strong penchant for innovation, Pollini often experimented with new materials. In 1987, he started using elast, an elastic eco-fiber material that allows increased flexibility and comfort. 

From 2003, Pollini devoted himself to the Vigevano Shoe Museum, to which he donated his entire collection. From 2009 to 2012, he taught footwear design at the Polytechnic University of Milan.