Sarah Shagalow grew up in Milan, Italy, with a father who manufactured leather for luxury brands of footwear, and a mother who always had gorgeous leather shoes. “It was exciting to see the final product,” Shagalow said in a phone interview. Even as a child she dreamed that one day she would make shoes with her father’s leather. Today she does.
Shagalow was spurred into action when she moved to America and couldn’t find the kind of leather shoes she was used to at an affordable price. “Anything in my price range was not the quality I wanted,” she said. She created the A. Soliani brand and it rapidly caught the eye of frum bloggers. Word of mouth spread. I heard about A. Soliani from a friend.
A. Soliani shoes and boots are designed with the frum customer in mind. “I try to make my designs look good with skirts,” Shagalow said. “You can wear a skirt and black tights and still look amazing.” When she learned that women in the Williamsburg Chabad community don’t wear black tights, she developed a look that goes well with the kind of stockings they wear.
Shagalow uses her father’s luxury leather and also has access to rich colors that are only available to top high-end designers. New designs are introduced every other week. Shagalow gets feedback from her Instagram followers and tries to make new designs based on what her customers want. She has a Brooklyn showroom but sells mostly online.
With the cold weather here, A. Soliani is showing several styles of boots. Shagalow said shades of brown are big this year, like cognac and chocolate. Winter white is not as popular as last year. Black is always a staple. Styles range from over-the-knee boots to booties. She just introduced an elegant suede boot for Shabbat, a request from customers. Lace-up boots are available in several models and colors, from rugged hiker style to more tailored dress looks.
A. Soliani boots are lined with leather inside except for the suede boot, which can only be lined with leather in the foot part. “Leather is comfortable and breathable,” Shagalow explained. “Cheaper companies will use pig leather inside but we don’t touch that. We use only calf or cow leather.” She works on designs to get a perfect fit, sometimes taking a year to develop a new style, and tries it on multiple people. She said you can tell a more cheaply made boot if there are gaps in the fit. She is coming out with a waterproof shearling boot soon.
Women wear A. Soliani’s elegant, comfortable flats year-round. Shagalow made her first design, called the Scala, three years ago. With a flattering V shaped opening, it is her most popular. This year she introduced a new ballet flat that is more closed and almond-shaped flat, which elongates the foot, a look only being made by top designers. She also makes loafers with a classic middle band and tassels. Her biggest news is the introduction of a men’s line in spring 2022.
Visit A. Soliani in Brooklyn at 506 Empire Boulevard, Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., at www.asoliani.com, and on Instagram.