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Family (Shoe) Tree


Alejandro Ingelmo combines futuristic vision and traditional techniques in his sporty footwear.

There's this idea of Old World craftsmanship, but what does that mean for us today?" Miami-born shoe designer Alejandro Ingelmo asks himself before pausing a moment. "I never want to forget my past -- that is incredibly important to me as a designer. Everything is moving so quickly, it's easy to forget about all the different elements that go into the making of a product."

While his signature aesthetic is streamlined, sleek, and modern, Ingelmo is quick to mention that he's carrying out the latest iteration of a family legacy. "My great-grandfather was a cobbler in Salamanca, Spain. He was the go-to guy in town if you wanted some cool kicks," he says with a laugh. Next, his grandfather built a business in Cuba during the 1940s and '50s by branching out to include popular styles of the day, like brogues and spectators. With a pedigree like that, it only makes sense that Ingelmo continued on in the family business--but he notes that reconciling past and present can be difficult. "When you're first starting out, you have to ask yourself: What are my values? How can I do what I love to do?" he says. "For me, it's all the details."

Mass production and globalization has forever changed his business, but there are subtle adjustments he feels not only improve his work, but pay homage to his ancestry. "I try to keep the traditional elements that I love about shoes intact. The lining inside--I want it to be leather. I want the cupsole to be stitched, not cemented. There are things like that that people just don't do anymore, and customers don't even know because it's not visible to the eye," he says before adding, "but I notice it."

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