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How a small bootmaker in Italy has taken on the big guns and is still alive to tell the story. This is the life of Falco boots.

You could be forgiven for not knowing who or what Falco boots are. We tested them in ADB (issues #412 and #418) and loved them but with a pile of boots now on the market it can sometimes be hard to see past the big three manufacturers. Falco is an Italian motorcycle boot manufacturer who has been stitching footwear together for over 50 years.

In the late 1980’s, the focus of the company switched from tennis and jogging products to two new and growing, niche, footwear markets: mountain-hiking and motorcycling. Gianni Falco SRL was then founded in 1990. Like all good Italian products, the name Gianni Falco derived from none other than the owner’s favourite designer and bird.

Gianni was the name of successful Italian designers and entrepreneurs Gianni Agnelli of Fiat Cars and Gianni Versace of Versace Fashion. Falco, well that one is a little easier to understand, it comes from the name of the deadly bird because it is “fast and firm, with the unique ability to see far and beyond” Falco told ADB. We had the privilege of sitting down with Mattia Foscarini the Sales and Marketing manager for Falco boots when he was in Sydney late last year for pizza and vino to see and hear more about this little-known company and what they have in store for the future.

ADB: Where did it all start for Falco? How long ago and by whom?

Mattia Foscarini: The Falco “flight” started in 1990 in the sporting goods/footwear district of Montebelluna (North-East of Italy, a one hr ride from Venice). The company was founded by my father and mother who after long experience in both the technical developments of sport shoes as well as their distribution and retail channels, decided to make their way into the motorcycle boots and shoes industry. The Australian market was one of the first overseas markets to be open and reactive to a new and upcoming brand so we have a long story of “special care” for selling Down Under

ADB: Is it still family-run today? Are all your boots still made in Italy and how is that financially viable when most other brands are made in Asia?

MF: It is still a family-run business, now with the second generation (founder’s sons are Mattia and Giulio, respectively in charge of Global Sales & Marketing and Technical Development & Production). The core of our range is currently made locally as 65% of our boot range is still made in Italy and 30% in Europe (Romania, Spain or Portugal). Only 5% is made in Asia (an entry level motocross boot). We keep it viable with huge efforts prioritizing quality, fast supply-chain service and word-to-word brand reference versus higher marginalities, rigid sourcing channels. Marketing focuses on brand growth.

ADB: What are the benefits of making your boots in Italy?

MF: The benefits are significant and varied. For starters the design and tooling processes are “nearer” to each other in terms of initial concept, realization and finalization allowing a more realistic result. Otherwise it becomes too complicated for a small/medium-sized, family-run business when compared to large multinationals of our industry.

Secondly, the quality is becoming more customized in terms of possibility to fit for different categories of use and physical requirements (i.e. fitting length and width, etc.)

 It also allows us to be faster at reacting to forthcoming trends in the time of “fast-fashion” (for example, we are able to develop in 6 months products that in Asia would require double or triple the time to reach dealerships shelves).

ADB; How have you been able to stay in business when so many other brands keep cannibalizing each other?

MF: Our approach has been more step-by-step, humbly moving our way into the industry rather than breaking in hard and fast but with a lack of consistency.

ADB: What makes Falco boots different from other boots?

MF: Probably our desire to make products that stand out from crowd. We don’t want to make the standard stuff or offer the same product our direct competitors do for their design. We have different technical solutions that would attract other users’ interest.

ADB: You only make boots, why is that?

MF: We feel that specialization is still a high advantage for companies of our dimension in order to be fast, reactive and innovative without missing opportunities chasing growth by opening to other accessories trading.

ADB: Do you use different quality materials and parts to other brands?

MF: Seven years ago, we were the first to introduce the D3O shock absorbing material to a motorcycle boot/shoe. And now we are the first again to use the process of direct injection of outsoles into the upper thanks to highly technological robotized assembly lines.

ADB: Where is all your R&D done? Do you have guys testing your dirtbike boots?

MF: Our R&D is done in the local district of Montebelluna where we have skilled teams of 3D and moulding experts running through different designs. Then our testing is usually run by national level riders in close connection with our distributors.

ADB: We see so many Italian brands keep things within the family, like Beta and TM. Tell us why this is so important to Italians? Especially in an age where capitalism tells us we should put profit over everything.

MF: Passion and dedication are the key for family-run companies in our industry as often larger companies taken over by investment funds lose focus of these as they chase higher profits to keep shareholders happy. We don’t worry about this, we just want to keep our customers happy.

ADB: Tell us about the new dirtbike boot and what makes it special?

MF: The boot you’re referring to is called the Terrex. It gets all the latest technology.

It was originally conceived for “dual-use” so in different dry or wet grip conditions. The boot features a hydrophobic-treated Micro-Synth upper and inside is our High-Tex membrane lining. It gets our Eso-Motion 2-MX for better ankle movement with a rear and side dual-hinge articulation system.

As we were discussing earlier, the Terrex boot also features D3O inserts, and a dual-compound polyurethane shin-plate and ABS toes and heel specific reinforcements. Additional reinforced areas are the gear-shifter and heat-shield panel.

It runs four micro-adjustable and replaceable buckles and an anatomical top-collar. The cemented rubber sole features a threaded bottom and it has a reinforced hard-compound arch support for sharper footpegs. Like all our other high-end footwear, they’re entirely designed and made in Italy and will cost around $599.95 in Australia.

For the full feature, chekc out issue #533 of ADB.