Giuseppe Santoni has been surrounded by shoes his whole life. “I grew up in the factory, because the factory was just downstairs from where we lived,” he said at the brand’s Spring 2017 presentation during Milan Fashion Week. “It was my playground.”

Santoni’s father Andrea founded the brand in the mid ‘70s as a men’s collection, targeting the United States market. At the time, “America was very hungry for high quality shoes,” Santoni explained. “He started to make [shoes] out of crocodile, leather, ostrich… all the exotic skins. He did booties for men with a higher heel that were very popular at that age.”

Today, the Italian brand is no longer only selling in the U.S. (it has 14 stores around the world), and aren’t only making men’s shoes (the women’s collection launched in 2006). But Santoni's childhood passion for footwear remains: in fact, he personally owns over 400 pairs, all in varying shades of hand painted blue. “I always wear blue – my suits too,” he said. “I don’t have any brown shoes or any black shoes.”

The brand’s Spring 2017 women’s collection is anything but monotone. The inspiration was Casablanca, and Morocco’s celebration of color and technique. Santoni insists that every pair, from the heavily embellished mules to the multi-colored, strappy platform sandals, are completely comfortable and wearable all day, thanks to some ingenious engineering. “Usually when you wear shoes, your weight is just divided in two very small places, so you feel uncomfortable,” he explained. “Our secret is that the foot completely touches the sole, your weight is divided evenly on the shoes. When you’re flat, it’s easy. With heels, you need more support.”

Italians Do It Better. Shoes, That Is.

Related: Watch the Gucci Spring 2017 show here: