Fai Khadra, Miaou and Kyle Luu Join Giaborghini’s Pool of Collaborators

MILAN — Strengthening its knack for tapping different voices and offering new viewpoints on its product, Florentine shoe brand Giaborghini has expanded its pool of collaborators to welcome a trifecta of talents.

The label has developed new capsule collections with Fai Khadra and Miaou’s designer Alexia Elkaim, in addition to naming Kyle Luu its new editor in residence, succeeding Claire Thomson-Jonville in the role.

More from WWD

The partnerships aim to expand the brand’s reach, drawing different customers to the brand as well as express the many facets of the Giaborghini woman.

“These collaborations range more broadly compared to our core business, and that’s the goal. We want to try to take different directions and tap into different tastes,” said Barbara Borghini, who established the shoe brand in 2016.

A style from the Gia x Fai capsule collection.
A style from the Gia x Fai capsule collection.

Borghini said she wanted to work with Khadra “at all costs,” praising his elegance and aesthetic sensibility. A model, musician, set designer and a regular of the celebrity scene as frequently linked to the Kardashian-Jenner clan — which could come in handy for Giaborghini in garnering extra attention around the capsule collection — Khadra has also always been part of the art world, having grown up with collector parents.

For example, in 2020 he was tapped by Sotheby’s London as guest curator for its “Contemporary Curated” auction, revealing on that occasion a passion for minimalism and for artists like Dan Flavin, Walter De Maria and Donald Judd, as reported.

“I liked the idea that he is not just focused on fashion, but involved in art and architecture,” said Borghini.

A style from the Gia x Fai capsule collection.
A style from the Gia x Fai capsule collection.

The four styles Khadra designed with the brand nod to these passions — referencing industrial art in the essential metal high heels, for one — and also leverage artisanal techniques.

“The collaboration traces back to more than a year ago. [Khadra] came to visit us in Florence, did a lot of research and wanted to recover some of the craftsmanship our area is known for and that risks to get lost,” recalled Borghini. She specifically pointed to the manual technique behind the ruched details that define the pointy leather pumps, mules and boots in the ‘90s-inspired collection. Another element running through all styles is a metal plaque embellishing the shoes’ side and matching the heels.

The range also includes Giaborghini’s first official proposition for men, a loafer with a chunky lug sole and harness details. The brand has been pivoting its assortment toward a more inclusive direction for a while, offering footwear sizes from 35 to 45 starting from its spring 2023 collection.

A style from the Gia x Fai capsule collection.
A style from the Gia x Fai capsule collection.

The tie-up with Elkaim’s hip label Miaou resulted in three high-heeled styles rendered in different colorways, ranging from black and white to khaki green, beige and hot pink. These include leather strappy sandals embellished with metallic piercing details and pointy mules and boots in suede or stretch leather with contrasting motifs on the toe and heels.

Borghini described Miaou as “a young brand with a global aesthetic” and praised Elkaim’s brainchild for “representing not just a woman, but many.”

Originally started in 2016 as a reworked denim brand, which gained a cult following for its model off-duty aesthetic, Miaou evolved into a full-fledged fashion label in a short amount of time, known for its sensual silhouettes and exciting prints. Although Elkaim was raised in Los Angeles and schooled in New York, Paris influences everything she does — starting from the brand’s name that was taken from the French spelling of “meow” — and is the city where the first encounter with Borghini took place.

A style from the Gia x Miaou collection.
A style from the Gia x Miaou collection.

The two footwear capsule collections will have a different price positioning and distribution in accordance with the targeted customers. The Gia x Fai range will retail between 550 euros and 800 euros, while the one developed with Miaou will be priced between 360 euros and 590 euros. Overall, Giaborghini is distributed in 180 doors globally, including retailers such as Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Selfridges, Browns, LuisaViaRoma and Mytheresa, to name a few.

In addition to unveiling the two collaborations, this month the brand is presenting to buyers its main resort 2024 collection, which marks the first developed under the guidance of New York-based creative consultant, stylist and costume designer Kyle Luu.

Officially effective this month, Luu’s tenure will run a year and encompass tasks ranging from product development to enhancing the image of the brand.

The Giaborghini Resort 2024 collection.
The Giaborghini resort 2024 collection.

“We wanted to add yet another facet to the Gia universe with Kyle, with whom we share the values,” said Borghini, characterizing the partnership as “strategic.”

“Her multi-diverse experience and knowledge will bring an unexpected flair to the collections. Her bold yet sophisticated aesthetic perfectly applies to the Giaborghini DNA, bolstering it with a sleek approach,” said the brand’s founder.

As reported, the label created the role of “editor in residence” last year, introducing an annual program intended to develop a new visual identity for the brand, as well as expand its reach to new demographics and offer guidance on possible design collaborations, key events and digital activations.

A style from the Giaborghini resort 2024 collection.
A style from the Giaborghini resort 2024 collection.

Borghini’s choice to bring more creative perspectives into her brand, via collaborations, this annual program and the creative consultancy role she offered to Danish fashion influencer and stylist Pernille Teisbaek in 2021, reflects a more contemporary approach to design that embraces a collective attitude versus putting the spotlight on a single individual.

“It was a natural choice; I’ve always liked the exchange of views with others, starting from within my own team,” said Borghini. The brand’s first collaboration dates back to 2016, when it was known under the Gia Couture moniker, and was signed with Chiara Ferragni on two limited-edition styles.

The following successful tie-ups with Teisbaek and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley cemented the approach and strategy of stylistic diversification, as both partnerships created multiple big hits that helped put the brand on the international map, garnering attention on social media and space on shop floors.

What particularly set the brand apart was the fact that these collaborations had long-running natures rather than relying on one-off hype.

Celebrity endorsements further supported Giaborghini’s expansion, with the brand’s styles seen on the feet of Kendall Jenner, Hailey Bieber, Gabrielle Union-Wade, Anok Yai, Joan Smalls, Ashley Graham and Elsa Hosk, among others.

A style from the Gia x Fai capsule collection.
A style from the Gia x Fai capsule collection.

While the previous collaborations were more Europe-centric, the appointment of the latest three talents reveals a particular focus Stateside.

“We liked them regardless, but there’s surely an interest in expanding the business in the U.S.,” confirmed Borghini. At the moment, the North American market is the second best-performing one for the brand, after Europe and before the Middle East. Without disclosing sales figures, Borghini said that overall turnover grew 40 percent in 2022 compared to the previous year.

While this year the focus is on product development and strengthening wholesale distribution, the founder is eyeing the opening of the brand’s first flagship in London for next year. Product-wise, even if Borghini has recently expanded the offering to bags and eyewear, she firmly dismissed the idea of venturing into ready-to-wear. In fact, Borghini’s ultimate mission is to increase the label’s appeal and turn it into an authority of the footwear industry.

Asked about the ultimate collaboration, too, she had no doubts: “Mariah Carey would be the dream.”

Best of WWD

Click here to read the full article.