Project History and Scope
The iconic Vara shoe was introduced by Salvatore Ferragamo in 1978, a classic low-heel with signature hardware and bow. At the time of its debut, the social and psychographic trends specific to women in the workplace and their attitudes toward symbols of status and wealth helped Ferragamo sell over 1 million pairs of the Vara worldwide. Nearly 30 years later, the shoe is still one of Ferragamo’s best-selling items. However, changes in the social and market environment for women and luxury retailing since the Vara first debuted invite an exploration for a Vara re-launch for pre-Fall 2007.


Major considerations were given to the difference in psychographic trends of today’s woman. Key conclusions were that women today, and Ferragamo’s target consumers are wealthier, more discreet, working professionals looking to express their individuality and sexuality through their quality clothing and accessories.

The students’ goal was to re-introduce the Vara shoe as Modern, Youthful, and Fun. The re-designed shoe focuses on sexiness and playfulness, rather than on the classic and professional. The new Vara is offered in three heel heights – flat, low and high – as well as in a variety of colors, including black and brown staples. Key changes are: 1) Retaining the bow’s hardware, an indispensable Vara characteristic, while unraveling the ribbon itself for a more modern, less “dowdy” or “classically female” symbol. 2) Color or graphic treatments on the inside of the shoe. 3) A breasted heel with the same material as used in the hardware on the top/front to create an element of visual branding.


“Only Salvatore Knows” campaign
Marketing and PR for the new Vara re-introduces it to a broader, more diverse and new generation of Vara women. Highlights of the marketing and PR plan include a pre-launch slogan and theme “Only Salvatore Knows.” Similar to the “I love Salvatore”/“Love Live” campaigns, this tag elicits the best qualities of the new Vara – youth, mystery and fun – while creating an emotional and historical connection to Ferragamo.


The Ferragamo Project Team
Melissa Basanes, Columbia Business School
Chris Oka, Columbia Business School
Wei Fang, Columbia Business School
Whitney Horsey-Sherin, Columbia Business School
Erin Moennich, Columbia Business School
Nicole Nadeau, Parsons The New School for Design
Hannah Park, Parsons The New School for Design
Sherif Shalaby, Parsons The New School for Design
Tae-Yun Kim, Parsons The New School for Design