Ahead of the new season, we sat down with our Heads of Product, David and Anthony Longo. We spoke about what’s in store for the months ahead, some exciting new product releases, and what shoes they have their eyes on from the new collection.
You’ve both been a part of the business since you were teenagers, which is so common in family run businesses like AQUILA. We are sure a lot of things have changed since then, but what has most evidently changed in the last few years?
ANTHONY: The way men in Australia dress has changed so much in the last few years. Covid sped up something we saw on the horizon. A blurring of a ‘work wardrobe’ and a ‘weekend wardrobe’ and offices getting more casual. So, the need for lots of dress shoes is dropping and people are investing in really special dress shoes for when they dress up instead. Men are looking for more versatile shoes to wear to work from home or on the weekend.
You mentioned working from home there. The way we work has changed so much in the last few years for so many of our customers. How has what you wear to work changed?
DAVID: We have a pretty casual, creative office, which I think is pretty common in the workforce these days. I like to feel casual and comfortable, but also still put together. I would usually wear a pair of cup sole sneakers, like the Deco, with a pair of drill cotton chinos and a knitted polo, or a pair of chunky boots with jeans.
ANTHONY: My go-to is a pair of chunky black derbies, with a pair of wider leg chinos and a button up. Like Dave said – comfortable, but still put together. I think that’s the aim when it comes to what you wear to work – you want to feel good, look like you’ve put in some effort, but still feel as comfortable as you would feel at home. Gone are the days where the average business-man is wearing a suit and tie from Monday to Friday.
Is this who you’ve designed the new collection for? A guy that might have needed a dress shoe for work, for example, that now has the flexibility to wear something a little more casual.
ANTHONY: That’s right. Men know they can come to us for a dress shoe for work or a wedding. But, this season we’ve designed a number of shoes and boots for that guy that wants something of the same quality, and that makes him feel just as put together. Shoes for every day of the week, and into the weekend.
DAVID: The world has become a lot more casual – there is no doubt about it. But, I know that when I’m working from home or im running to do school pick ups, I always reach for things that are easy to wear but still look and feel good.
So then what does ‘dressed up’ look like to you in 2023? If you were invited to a wedding, or were off to the races?
DAVID: I’m pretty casual usually, at work or home, chasing around the kids. But, that means when I dress up I like to really dress up. I have a pair of Gordon’s that are my go-to suit shoe – they’re a modern update to a classic style without seams or stitched pieces.
ANTHONY: You will be surprised how many other options you have when you need to dress up but don’t want to wear a classic dress shoe. I like my suits to be a little more relaxed, and this goes great with a heavier set rounded toe like the Rooney. It still is ‘dressed up’, just a little more modern. When the weather gets warmer this year, the Landon with a soft tailored cotton suit will be a winner.
OK, so lets chat new season. What shoes are you most excited about seeing in stores over the next few months??
DAVE: I took the Deco 2.0 Mesh in light grey from the sample room the day they came in. You’ll see me in these most days at work for the next few months for sure. They’re just such a cool update to our classic Deco 2.0, arriving in September. The light grey is super versatile - I’ll wear them with wider leg pants or relaxed jeans. For something a little more dressed up, I’m really pumped to see the Memphis drop in store. We’ve worked with our team in Marche, Italy on this really solid boot with corrected grain upper and heavy rubber blonde sole. It’s clean and cool, but the craftsmanship that has gone into it is incredible.
ANTHONY: I’m really keen to see some of our core, wardrobe staples get an update. Everyone needs a great black lace up or tassel loafer in their wardrobe, and this year we’ve taken these signature styles to the next level with added details and benefits like softer footbeds, richer leathers, and more versatile styling. Keep your eyes out on these styles dropping in September.
Coming soon: The Deco 2.0 Mesh Light Grey Sneakers and Memphis Black Military Boots
David – you work very closely with our factories in Italy – what trends are you seeing coming out of those factories for the new season?
DAVID: There are some great things coming out of all of our factories in Italy. From a styling perspective, we are still seeing a lot of chunky soles and squarer toes dominating the looks at the moment, which you will see reflected in the start of the season.
But, for me the most exciting things I am seeing are the interesting materials and textures coming on the market, and we have put a lot of this into the new D’ORO Collection dropping in both July and September. Corrected grain leathers, laser detailed uppers, rubrex blown rubber – you’ll see a lot of this coming through the collection in the next few months.
Later in the season, around September and October, that’s when we are dropping some of the punchier colours of the season. Expect punches of papaya, hints of baby blue and white loafers and lace ups when summer really starts to kick in.
Summer is not TOO far away - What are you wearing this summer?
DAVID: The easy answer is sneakers – and that’s because they are so easy to just throw on. But other than sneakers, I can see so many people wearing the Panama, which is our new season update to our best selling Cottesloe Espadrille. We have invested in a custom sole and some other tricked up bits to make them really pop for the summer.
Anthony: I’ll be picking up a pair of Rudy Sneakers when the weather warms up. They’re light and flexible as they're made from suede on a latex sole. I also think a pair of woven lace ups like the Cabo or Costa have now become a staple summer style, much like a driving shoe or a boat shoe has.