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SMATE: Made in Italy


Emiliano and Alessandro go back almost twenty years. A communications expert and a psychotherapist respectively, they share a rather random passion for sneakers. “Sneakers combine the comfort of a sport shoe with the style of the classic shoe,” says Emiliano, “which is perfect for the popular casual style. We were thinking for a long time about opening our own sneaker store and in 2017 we finally did it.”

The SMATE store is located in Frascati, a few miles south-east of the Italian capital. “It’s a small, historical art town, perfect for us. We were never interested in the high street or big brands. We prefer to sell lesser-known brands, mostly made in Italy, enhancing local craftsmanship as much as possible,” he adds.

Alongside sneakers, SMATE also offers t-shirts designed by young artists that Emiliano and Alessandro are keen to promote, and sunglasses produced using recycled materials. SMATE is not a conventional store, as Emiliano explains: “We always wanted to develop something different – not just a store, but also an inclusive space for creative expression. We use the space for art exhibitions and events, creating a network of artists and artisans who share ideas and inspirations, giving visibility to their work and creativity. Recently we made the dream of a young local artist come true, giving him the opportunity to sign his first t-shirt collection. This means a lot for us. But we also care about our supply chain and the notion of Made in Italy. The cotton is Italian. We attach huge importance to fair trade and we rely on local designers as much as we can.”

To launch their project, the pair initially tried to get financing from regional authorities but, “even though our project was very much appreciated, the process was slow, the waiting list was long…It would have easily taken about two years. With Permicro everything went very fast,” Emiliano says. Through Permicro, they were able to secure an EU-guaranteed loan backed by the EIF, which allowed them to renovate the physical space of the store, put in orders for the first stock and develop an e-commerce platform. “It got the whole project off the ground,” he says.

“Looking ahead, our dream would be to replicate the success of SMATE in another small town. We love the dimensions of vibrant small towns and we would be happy to give the possibility to more local artists to develop their projects and ideas,” he adds with a nod to the future.

Company: Smate (Italy)

Type of business: footwear, retail

EIF financing: EaSI Guarantee Financial Instrument

Financial intermediary: PerMicro

For further information about EIF intermediaries in Italy, please refer to: http://www.eif.org/what_we_do/where/it/index.htm


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