Veterans of the Italian shoe and sporting goods industries from the Treviso area are trying to re-launch Impronte, the Italian footwear brand owned by Stonefly until one year ago, positioning it in a higher market segment and accompanying its development with the distribution of Gant and Wrangler footwear on the Italian market.

They are marketing Impronte as a line of both elegant and comfortable shoes that are entirely made in Italy, using only Italian materials and components assembled by manufacturers from the regions of Naples and Tuscany – even for moccasins and other styles that are usually outsourced abroad. Positioned as a line of accessible luxury in the medium-high segment of the market, Impronte targets mainly women between the ages of 30 and 40.

Impronte's first full-fledged collection the have been developed by the new owners was shown at the Micam fair in Milan a month ago for the fall/winter 2009-10 season, accompanied by some handbags and other accessories. Two neighboring stands showed the shoe collections of Gant and Wrangler footwear, which address different targets and are now being sold on the Italian market by Impronte.

Licensed by the Dutch Bos group, Gant footwear was previously sold in Italy by Asak. Starting with the spring/summer 2009 collection, the Wrangler line is licensed for distribution in Italy, the U.K., Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Poland by an Italian trading company, Bi&Do, that was previously operating in the sports footwear segment.

Impronte has already found agents in Spain, Portugal and the Benelux countries, and other contracts are about to be finalized. Italian retailers have a better recollection of the Impronte brand, which was launched by Diadora in 1986 as a sporty and functional line of casual shoes. It was acquired by Stonefly in 1998, and it continued to be manufactured in Italy until 2001, but its sales never went very far.

Stonefly thus decided to sell Impronte in February 2008 to two Italian investors, Antonino Anselmo, a well-known personality in the Italian sporting goods sector, and Luca Coin, who operates in a different sector and is not connected with the Italian Coin chain of department stores. They were joined in March by Loredana Polo, who left as general manager of Stonefly in January. She is now running Impronte, with a minority stake in the company.

Anselmo is one of the shareholders in the successful company that licenses and markets Converse shoes in Italy. He previously ran two distribution subsidiaries of Lotto, Promark and Premiere, which it took it over in 1999.

In 2004, Promark launched its own brand of shoes, Koh-Tao, and transferred it subsequently to Premiere. In 2007 Anselmo sold this business and a new brand of skiwear, Hyra, to Giorgio Caberlotto, son of Lotto’s former owner and president, Giovanni Caberlotto, who died in 1997. Incidentally, marking the end of an era, Roberto Danieli, one of the brothers who owned Diadora until 1998, died a few days ago, after a long illness.

Positioned as a brand of colorful shoes that uses only natural materials, Koh-Tao has reached an annual turnover of €2.5 million. It is sold in about 300 stores in Italy, plus some shops in Canada, the Benelux countries and Spain. Hyra’s producer has decided to open the first three Koh-Tao shops in China.