*In this difficult time, azureazure is here for you. We are committed to helping both our readers and the industries that have been most impacted by the pandemic. Until the crisis is over, we will be publishing relevant content alongside our regular stories, which we hope offer you a few moments of escape. We would like to hear from you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org*
It’s hard to argue the power of a stylish flat: they take you from day to night without discomfort and ensure that you never feel compelled to stay in your seat when you feel like dancing. In 2013, Filipa Júlio created Josefinas; a luxury brand set out to manufacture shoes that are as chic as they are comfortable.
“I’ve always loved shoes, and I believe that shoes can empower women. I just couldn’t get enough of flat shoes. If I felt good in them, I knew other women would, too,” Júlio says.
In contrast to the traditional origins of most luxury firms, Josefinas was born online, by ways of an apartment in the northern Portugal. Júlio drew influence from her strong family ties: her grandfather was a shoemaker who influenced her love of shoes. The company is named after her grandmother, with whom Júlio shared many adventures, including attending ballet lessons as a child.
Audrey Hepburn donned a pair of ballet flats in the film Funny Face, securing their place in the fashion world for decades to come. In 2016, Josefinas released the most expensive flat in the world: the Blue Persian Salt flat. The royal blue ballet flat draws inspiration from the tales of the 1001 Nights and comes adorned with a gold and topaz jewel. Other standout designs include the Dragon Lady, featuring an Asian-inspired dragon, and the Audrey, whose namesake is the iconic Hepburn and comes delicately embroidered with gold and sewn pearls.
Júlio works alongside eight master shoemakers to bring her creations to life. Each shoe is handcrafted in Portugal using the finest materials and a detailed process that involves the participation of 3 or 4 artisans to bring each model to life. The finished products show off the excellence of Portuguese craftsmanship.
For Júlio, though, there’s more to Josefinas than adorning women’s feet. “In everything we do at Josefinas, we carry the mission to empower and inspire other women. We believe in empowering them towards their own successes because a woman’s success is a success for other women. Every collection we create is made to inspire: Thelma & Louise collection is for breaking free; Cleopatra stands for strong women.
The Women for Women collection, created in part by feminist symbol Gloria Steinem, is a perfect illustration of all that Josefinas embodies: it celebrates female friendships while giving back to the less fortunate. Sold in pairs, the crystal adorned flats complete a perfect circle when facing each other, and for every ten sets sold, Josefinas sponsors one woman survivor of war to join Women for Women International, a program that supports marginalized women in countries affected by conflict and war.
In 2016, Josefinas ventured into the United States with their first flagship, designed by architect Christian Lahoude, in New York City’s Nolita neighborhood.
When we ask Júlio what we can expect from her brand in the near future, she says, “I know for sure I want to keep building a luxury brand with meaning.” ■