Founder: Salvatore Ferragamo
Year Founded: 1928

Salvatore Ferragamo began as a man. Ferragamo the man moved from Italy to the United States in the teens, and to Southern California shortly after arriving. In Southern California, he cultivated a reputation as shoemaker to the stars and attended the University of Southern California, where he studied anatomy to improve his shoemaking. In the late twenties, he moved back to Italy, to Florence, and began making shoes on a mass scale. By the 1950s, his team of 700 workers was making 350 pairs of shoes a day. When Salvatore died in 1960, he passed the family on to his children, and his family still controls the company today. Ferragamo defined designer shoes for the American consumer, both male and female. Before Ferragamo, the idea of the Italian shoe—stylish, sleek, distinctive—was largely unknown in the United States. Ask an Italian shoemaker (I have) and they'll tell you that Ferragamos have slipped badly in quality over the last twenty years or so, but the legacy remains.