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Some activities — hanging out at the beach, for example, or poolside lounging — call for footwear that is both casual and breathable, yet stylish enough for a variety of occasions. And, unless you have perfectly-pedicured feet, flip-flops are rarely the best option. Which is where Rivieras comes into play. Founded in 2009 by Dan Amzallag and Fabrizio Corveddu, the slip-on shoes are, in their own words, “made to chill” and based on the espadrilles that were popular on the Spanish Costa Blanca or the French Riviera in the ’50s. The unisex designs come in a modern variety of fabrics — mesh, cotton canvas and even denim — while managing to maintain a retro, romantic flavor. At the launch of Rivieras’ latest collaboration with Hong Kong’s CLOT, we caught up with the laid-back Frenchmen for a chat on beach footwear, Lord Zelco and the true meaning of leisure. Read on for the interview in its entirety and shop our own selection of Rivieras footwear below.
Can you introduce yourselves?
Dan: My name is Dan Amzallag and I’m the founder and creative director of Rivieras.
Fabrizio: My name is Fabrizio Corveddu and I’m the co-founder of Rivieras. We’re actually cousins, so it’s a family story. I take care of sales and communications.
Can you tell us about Rivieras as a brand?
Dan: Rivieras started 4-5 years ago. We always wanted to do a product. I guess it could have been something different, but we did shoes. It’s a classic from Spain from the ‘50s, but we tried to reshape it and create an interesting concept with the name and formed collaborations around it, installations, etc.
How does the idea of lifestyle play into the essence of Rivieras?
Dan: Well, it’s about leisure. It’s about when you don’t have anything to do.
Fabrizio: All the inspiration of the brand is the fashion of the ‘60s, in places like the French Riviera.
Dan: Pretty much if you’re around a pool, if you’re at the beach, or if you’re at a cafe with some friends and you don’t have anything to do, you wear Rivieras. And the less you work, the better it is (laughs).
Fabrizio: Made to chill.
What are the advantages of Rivieras versus other poolside-ready or beach-ready footwear?
Dan: They tickle your feet when you wear them.
Fabrizio: A part of our collection is made of mesh fabrics, so you can feel the air when you wear them.
What do you think of flip-flops at the beach?
Fabrizio: I think we created Rivieras just to get rid of flip-flops. The fewer flip-flops we see around us the better.
Dan: Flip-flops are good, but you should never show them. We don’t consider them a fashion accessory.
How can guys wear the shoes or incorporate them into their wardrobes?
Dan: We think they match with many styles. This is actually why we don’t give a style. We think everybody should look at our shoes through the lens of their own style — rocker, punk, preppy, etc. You choose your own style. That’s why we never communicate a specific style.
Rivieras are based on a very classic Spanish footwear design. How do you intend to push the product into the future?
Dan: The real challenge is always to make a classic. I guess this was our challenge when we started. It’s not easy, but we hope that we’ll get there.
Fabrizio: That’s why we don’t make fall/winter collections, for example. We’ve tried to create a classic summer shoe.
Dan: It wouldn’t make sense to have another shoe for winter and also call it Rivieras. Of course we’re looking into different solutions for the future. Maybe it won’t be in fashion, because it’s leisure – it’s about how you live, how you feel, so this encompasses many things, not just shoes or apparel.
“Pretty much if you’re around a pool, if you’re at the beach, or if you’re at a cafe with some friends and you don’t have anything to do, you wear Rivieras. And the less you work, the better it is.”
Dan Amzallag on how lifestyle plays into the essence of the brand
How do you innovate? Are you developing new materials or fabrics?
Fabrizio: Yes, always. Every season.
Dan: I don’t think we can speak about innovation. Nike is innovating. We are doing things as simple as can be. I think that’s what people like about our shoes. They’re canvas, not some kind of crazy mesh from outer space.
Fabrizio: But we have this particular mesh, for example, that Dan is wearing right now. We call it Lord Zelco. That was a kind of innovation for us.
What does the name Lord Zelco mean to you?
Fabrizio: Lord Zelco is a guy, a ragamuffin guy from the ‘80s in France. So we were listening to him when we were young.
Dan: He was a radio DJ. So it was some kind of an homage to this period. We did a mesh that looked like something from an African tribe. So for us it brings us back to that period.
I guess you could consider this one of the bolder styles from Rivieras?
Dan: Yes, but when we first did it, we had no idea it would get so successful. For us it was a crazy thing but when you put on the multicolored mesh, you can actually wear it with anything. You can wear it with jeans, with whatever, because it’s multicolored; it fits everything. So people went crazy over it. We actually did a jacket with the pattern – a crew jacket.
Fabrizio: We’re not selling it at the moment. We made it for ourselves.
“I don’t think we can speak about innovation. Nike is innovating. We are doing things as simple as can be. I think that’s what people like about our shoes. They’re canvas, not some kind of crazy mesh from outer space.”
Dan Amzallag on Innovation
We’re here for the launch of the CLOT x Rivieras collaboration. What are some other collaborations that you’ve done in the past?
Dan: Our first collaboration was with Christophe Lemaire. He is an Hermes designer now.
Fabrizio: He was actually the designer of Lacoste when we did the collaboration.
Dan: We liked his brand, so it felt natural to do something with him. He came to us, and for us it was good.
Fabrizio: The thing is, we always do collaborations with friends. I think the definition of a collaboration is not trying to push getting contacts with this designer or that brand and saying it will be nice to partner up.
Dan: It comes naturally; it begins with friendship. You need a good dinner together, at least, or lunch.
Fabrizio: That’s why we did two collaborations with Surface to Air, because the guys there are good friends. This year, our collaboration is with Edison Chen and we have another coming up with a friend of Dan named Rafael de Cardenas, who is a designer from New York.
How did you come into contact with CLOT and how did this collaboration come together?
Fabrizio: JUICE was one of our first clients in Asia and we saw pictures on the web of Edison wearing the shoes. He also knows some of our friends in Paris and we came into contact like this.
Dan: First we had some discussions; you know, Edison travels a lot, he’d come to Paris to would meet with us and we spoke about the collaboration. It took a year, approximately, to find a way. To leisurely find a way, you know? And it turned out well. I think Edison has a lot of good ideas and with collaborations, it’s always good to get a fresh, outside perspective. Especially when you do just one product — you need to reinvent every time.
The first thing he said to us was, “I want to split your shoes, keep your fabric, but split them.” For example, one fabric in the front and one in the back. We thought it was cool and went back to our studio and said, “Okay, if you wanna split it, let’s do this three-color elastic. It will make the split stronger. It will give the shoe an identity.” And from there, it became like a coupe de sport, like a car, because it looks quite bold. It looks sporty, more than the other styles we have.
How many styles are featured in the collaboration?
Fabrizio: There are six styles, each one made only with the materials from shoes we already have in our collection.
Dan: Yeah, we like to do lines like this, that have a theme that can guide us with the packaging, the installations, the events. We always use our packaging to do installations, so it’s becoming a challenge to do more and more boxes every time. Every product has its own box. There’s a possibility now to build an installation that is infinite, like bricks or LEGO. And so, if you have a theme in mind, you can from the product to the installation and everything makes sense.
Fabrizio: This one is actually our biggest installation so far. We used about 2,000 boxes to build it.
Just to tie things up, can you guys tell me your definition of leisure? What does leisure mean to you?
Dan: These days, everyone wants to do a lot of things. We like not doing things — sometimes.
Fabrizio: Sometimes, we go to the south of France.
Dan: Or we go to each others’ home, we cook. Have a barbeque, a steak, and so it’s always a good moment for us.
Fabrizio: Just after our Asia tour, we will go to Morocco to have a party for Dan’s 40th birthday, so we will take some friends with us. We have a house by the sea. That is leisure for us.
But it’s hard to beat doing nothing.
Dan: Yes, the best thing is to do nothing. But actually, when you see the images on our Facebook page, it’s full of images people send us of their crossed feet in front of a good view. The crossed feet, that’s the image that represents our brand. It’s simple – you do it yourself, it’s where you are. That’s leisure.
“The first thing he said to us was, “I want to split your shoes.” “Keep your fabric, but split them.” For example, one fabric in the front and one in the back. We thought it was cool and went back to our studio and said, “Okay, if you wanna split it, let’s do this three-color elastic. It will make the split stronger. It will give the shoe an identity.”
Dan Amzallag on the discussion with Edison prior to the collaboration with CLOT