From the 1950s until today, discover the most important stages of Paoul
From the 1950s until today, discover the most important stages of Paoul
Paolo Pizzocaro sets up his company from his house. He comes from a family of shoemakers placed in the Footwear District, where there is a deeply rooted shoe tradition: men take care of manufacturing, cut and pre-assembly, whereas women deal with finishing and hemming. Paolo works with his brothers and he has a creative nature: he likes to experiment and explore the possibilities of his own talent.
He enrolls in the Footwear Polytechnic of Strà (a small city near Venice), which he attends in the evening after working all day. In 1962 he achieves the Professional Training certification.
Paolo gets a VAT number and starts his own business, initially as a piece-rate worker. He produces a range of very different items, from historical shoes to police footwear. He collaborates with some atelier in Venice, creating shoes for Carnival or for the entertainment world. As he is very young, he grows mustaches to appear more respected. He is proud, stubborn and he loves his job. After a few years, he starts his own production, and he gives life to the first set of samples. His family house turns into his workshop: he works from a corner of his kitchen, leather is stored in a room next to his bedroom, other machineries are located beside the stove and finished shoes are kept in a storeroom. He soon understands that he needs more room, and he discusses about it with his mother. She gives him the permission to use the 250 square meters land near their house. With his family support, on Saturday and Sunday Paolo starts building the warehouse, where he can place the machineries and work more comfortably.
After work, Paolo loves to have fun: in his spare time, he enjoys ballroom dancing. After practicing some steps, he realizes that he is not confident with reverse turn Walz, therefore he decides to attend a dance school run by a couple, husband and wife. While talking with his teachers, Paolo finds out that they have difficulty in finding good dancing shoes in Italy. Until then, they have ordered dance footwear from England or elsewhere abroad, but the purchase is surely complicated due to the distance. Therefore, Paolo starts creating samples for his teachers. They test them and his prototypes are really appreciated since the beginning. Besides, teachers give him practical advice, so that his shoes can fully satisfy their needs. Gradually, enthusiastic world of mouth spreads among teachers: finally, the first Italian dance shoes have been created. On the dance floor you can now see ‘Enchufla’, the historical model, which is still available in our catalog, in the most evolved version. Small competitions are organized in partnership with many dance schools and Paolo presents his shoes showing his pen-written catalog. He still continues to work also for the fashion and show industries: he produces the boots that Celentano (a very famous Italian singer and actor) uses for the movies “Di che segno sei” with Mariangela Melato and “Geppo il folle”.
One day, during a Walz class, Paolo notices a young woman, who is dancing with the teacher. He asks his teacher to swap partners, so that he can hug Maria Teresa for the first time. From that moment, they will always stay together.
Paolo and Maria Teresa get married, and she starts working for the company, initially dealing with administration and customers. Although they have different roles, all decisions are made together. Besides their collaborations with dance schools, they start creating the first partnership with Italian resellers.
The company becomes a real brand, and the time has come to find a proper name. Paolo&Mary? Paolo and Maria? Paolo thinks about many different possibilities. It must be a name that people can understand worldwide. Then, one day rummaging in a drawer of an old machinery, he finds the stamp of a company: RAOUL. He is not able to afford a new stamp, so in that moment he comes up with a brilliant idea: he takes the cobbler’s knife, and he changes the R into P. This is how Paoul was born.
The first workshop is getting too small, therefore Paolo and Maria Teresa purchase a building land in Saonara (a small city near Padua), where there is a rooted artisanal tradition. They gave birth to the production site, where it is still located today. Originally, their team is composed of 10 people, but the number of employees gradually increases.
In this period, Paoul starts also an intensive collaboration with the Venetian Nicolao Atelier, which creates historical and show costumes. The two young businessmen give rise to fascinating and unusual creations, thanks to their passion for beauty and dreams.
One weekend, while the company is closed, a fire breaks out: the machinery used for upper scraping produces a spark, which accidentally goes into the dust collection bag and slowly flames starting raging. The warehouse is not usable any longer, therefore the production of shoes is suspended.
The customers from the fashion industry cancel their orders despite of the great regard they have for Paoul shoes, in that the slowed down production time would not enable them to present their new collections. On the other hand, customers from the dance industry decide to wait a bit longer for their orders, so as to enable the company to get back on track.
After this episode, Paolo Pizzocaro makes an important decision which will determine the future of Paoul: the focus of the company shifts to the world of dance. After 20 days, the company opens again.
The choice of exclusively producing dance shoes turns out to be successful. The company makes the first marketing investments. In Udine (a city of northern Italy), the first world championship is held and Paoul takes part in the event as the Main Sponsor.
Paoul Trophy is established: there will be 13 editions involving Italian and international dancers. The internationalization of the company rapidly begins: Paoul shoes are distributed in Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France, US and Spain.
The warehouse next to the headquarter is enlarged; on the first floor, a 350 square meters practice room was created, where dancers can carry out product testing. Besides, in the Paoul Testing Room important events take place: for instance, the first historical meeting between CONI (the Italian National Olympic Committee) and FIDS (the Italian Federation of Dance Sport), which paves the way for the admission of the Federation to CONI.
Paolo and Maria Teresa’s daughters, Cinzia and Katia, since their childhood they have experienced the atmosphere of Paoul and after finishing their studies, they start working for the company, bringing a new wave of ideas and news. They give Paoul a more modern approach: the company is not only focused on the product, but also on the customer experience. While an accurate brand restyling process progressively takes place, Paoul becomes an international leading company and great value is given to the shoes.
Suppliers are met on the ground floor, whereas the commercial area is located on the first floor with a dedicated showroom.
On the 40th anniversary of the company, spaces are restored and redesigned with the aim of improving the experience of visitors. On the first 250 square meters workshop, where Paolo started working, the Paoul Museum is established showing the footwear tradition routes of the District of Veneto. Here, visitors can see all the stages and the machinery dating back to the previous century, which enabled to create perfect shoes, scrupulously preserved by the founder. The historical and cultural value of this museum is recognized by important institutions, such as the Superintendency of Cultural Heritage, in that it provides a broad overview concerning not only the company, but also the entire production cycle.
The first Wedding line catalog is printed, officially introducing the collection dedicated to ceremony. This is the beginning of the production line definition, which will result in the creation of the Dance, Wedding and Theatre collections in 2012.
In these years, Paoul becomes an increasingly renowned brand within the world of theatre and show business: the shoes of the Theatre collection are worn by actors, presenters, comedians, extras and dance teams from around the world. They are worn during the Chiambretti Night (a popular Italian entertainment TV program), by Irene Pivetti for the talk-show Iride, Il colore dei fatti; by the professional dancers Raimondo Todaro and Samuel Peron at Ballando con le stelle (the Italian edition of Dancing with the stars); by actors such as Anna Safroncik and Antonio Cupo in the fiction Il Ritmo della Vita; by the showgirl Michelle Hunziker during the TV program Mi scappa da ridere; by the Italian team of comedians Oblivion and by Claudio Bisio and Paola Cortellesi for the comic show Zelig; by the actors Barbara Saba and Claudio Gregori in the movie Il Fascino discreto della Parola.
Paolo passes away after his disease stopped him from working in the company. These years are very difficult both for the family and for business. Katia, Cinzia and Maria Teresa suddenly have to carry the huge responsibility of Paoul on their shoulders: they have to manage 30 employees, trying to gain the same trust as the founder had and optimize production, in order to adapt it to a fast-evolving world. Furthermore, they need to limit consumptions, so as to cope with the economic crisis. While many competitors relocate their production abroad, they fight to keep the entire production department in Italy.
In spite of all the difficulties, Paoul continues to be a point of reference for the world of art. Its creations are worn by Antonia Sautter during the sumptuous performance Ballo del Doge and for the show Romeo and Juliet by the two protagonists: Davide Merlini, the finalist of X Factor and Giulia Luzi, who dubbed many singing characters for Walt Disney movies. During the theatre performance the Rugantino by Enrico Brignano; in the musical Karol Wojtyla and in La vera storia performed by Duccio Forzano, Donatella Damato, Patrizia Barsotti and Gaetano Stella.
Paoul overcomes difficulties and it becomes stronger and more creative than ever. The production department is still 100% located in Italy. The company establishes the Paoul Academy, as it becomes clear that sales success with the final customer is linked to the reseller competencies.
The Academy organizes training occasions of great interest involving university professors, high-standing consultants and International partners. Innovative topics are discussed with the University of Padua, such as the circular economy. In short, it becomes a fundamental event, as the number of resellers grows. Year after year, the project is increasingly ambitious, in that it also becomes the opportunity to meet the final customer. In these years, Paoul takes part in the project Open Factory: it represents the opening of the industrial and manufacturing culture. 100 companies, which are regarded as the symbol of the Made in Italy, open their doors to the public and show their products, factory and production process directly to visitors.
As regards the show business, Giorgio Panariello (a popular Italian comedian) chooses Paoul shoes for his TV show, Panariello sotto l’Albero. A new collaboration starts with Moreno Morello, the correspondent of the talk show Striscia la Notizia and new shoes are produced for the musical the Addams Family, which goes on air in New York.
On its 50th Anniversary, Paoul organizes a week full of events, meetings and international leading guests. There are various and important occasions and topics covered: events are organized for the resellers, covering the themes of business management and new media. A focus on dance innovation, where the Footwear Polytechnic describes the features of 3D printing and it explains how they can be applied to the footwear industry. Furthermore, speeches are delivered on the issues of recycling and green economy. The history of the Footwear District is told visiting places, including the Paoul Museum and the Footwear Museum of Villa Foscarini Rossi (a beautiful XVII-century villa located in the surroundings of Venice) or enjoying a boat tour along the river Brenta. Moreover, prestigious teachers organize workshops of different dance styles and training sessions are held in the Testing Room; style consultants, costume designers and stylists arrange discussions covering the topics of style and costume. Finally, a tour around the factory and a presentation of the various collection, including the Green Collection, which was inspired by the issue of environmental sustainability. There is also a presentation of Paoul products, such as the Warm-Up Boots, which were created in collaboration with the international étoile Josè Perez. This week filled with events draws the media attention, and Vogue and Swarovski stand out among the visitors. During these years, Paoul takes part in international events with its booth, such as Blackpool Dance Festival, German Open Dance Festival, Dance-O-Rama, organized by Arthur Murray dance studios, and other renowned appointments around the world. The company also participates to the fair Sposa Sì Italia, which is the biggest B2B wedding event in Italy. Paoul increases its popularity thanks to these events, and it establishes important business relations.
For sure, this is not an easy year due to Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions in force, which extremely limit possibilities and occasions concerning the world of dance and events. Yet, this year witnesses the creation of the Daily line: Paoul first collection dedicated to the everyday use of the shoes. It embodies a strong concept: highlighting the values of uniqueness and character regardless of fashion and conventions and bringing exception and show to everyday life. The company aims to get closer to the public developing an increasingly clear communication. In one word: humanization.
According to this view, the two Pizzocaro sisters get out there and pose for the shooting of the new collection: casual photos are taken showing them on the street of Venice. Meanwhile, Francesca Tocca (a famous Italian professional dancer) continues to be a loyal Paoul ambassador, wearing our shoes during the dance TV show Amici. The company gives rise to new trends, while the brand is taken as a model and it is observed and copied. Paoul is a leading international brand, and it is referred to as the “Ferrari of the dance shoes” by resellers.
The years of the pandemic bring to light the huge value of digitalization: the internet and new technologies can overcome distances and connect people with a strength that nobody would have ever imagined. Besides increasing the activities on the social media, which become a tool to engage with customers every day, Paoul creates a new user-friendly and interactive website, where the company shows itself to the public. The new site represents a crucial virtual link: anywhere in the world, no matter what time, customers can be provided with detailed technical information, make a purchase, schedule an appointment and get assistance. Moreover, Paoul services change and adjust to properly meet the safety needs of customers, by adapting to the opportunities offered by the digital world: the appointments are scheduled with videocall, in order to discuss the creation of a Tailored shoe or define the customization details, with style advice or defining the proper measures of the foot. From China to the United States, our customers are given the opportunity to be supported with the same care and concern as if they were in our store. Thanks to its flexibility and openness, Paoul identifies new needs with intelligence and sensitivity, and it finds innovative and satisfying solutions.
A real journey through history
Art, costume, ideas, materials.
Paoul Museum tells the history of our company and the evolution of craftsmanship in the footwear industry of the Riviera del Brenta (the most famous Shoe District for elegant shoes in the world).
Here, you can see the machineries originally used at the beginning of Paoul’s history: they are placed in the same order as back in those days, before the industrialization occurred. Furthermore, a wide range of objects is displayed, together with the equipment more than a century old, which belonged to Paolo Pizzocaro’s personal collection.
The Museum includes the first machineries that were purchased: the skiving machines, the machineries to model the point of the shoe, the milling machine, the “pomicino”(a form of sand-paper), the press and the typical dual function equipment, such as the machine to rasp heels and the desk with brushes, which were used with the aim of saving room and responding to the economic needs of the company.
An heritage of objects and equipment more than a century old
Work tools hooked to the bicycle for home repair.
You can also find the machineries that Paolo personally modified, so as to improve some of their functions, such as the heel nailing machine. Moreover, in the Museum you can see the characteristic devices of the 20th century shoemakers, for instance, the typical bicycle equipped with a wood stand, seat and tools, which was used for home repairs.
It follows an ancient section, which shows the instruments used before Paoul was founded.
Among the equipment, you can still find the machinery where Paolo found the stamp that gave rise to the name of the brand.
The Museum represents a real cultural route that witnesses the deep value of Italian craftsmanship.
It was inaugurated on July 21st, 2007, on the occasion of Paoul 40th Anniversary, by Marcellino Doni, the President of the Politecnico Calzaturiero s.c.a.r.l (the Footwear Polytecnic s.c.a.r.l.) and by Franco Ballin, the Vice President of A.N.C.I. (the Italian National Shoe Factory Association). From 2021, the Museum was incorporated into the company headquarter, so that visitors can enjoy a complete experience of our products life cycle and their history all in one location.
If you are interested to visit our Museum and you want to deepen your knowledge about the history of our company and the Footwear District, or in case you are thinking about organizing an event or an educational experience, you can find us here:
Via Emilia Romagna, 12
35020 Villatora di Saonara (PD)
Open on appointment.
The opening and the Museum activities are currently suspended in compliance with the safety rules in force.
We will reopen as soon as possible.
Made in Riviera del Brenta
We belong to our land, memories and the Footwear District of Riviera del Brenta.
In this area, which extends from Padua to Venice along the stream of the Brenta river, where Venetian villas overlook and in the squares you can smell fresh fish, a manufacturing tradition developed over the centuries and it became famous worldwide.
Did you know that the first Guild of Venetian Shoemakers dates back to 1268 and that the quality of this manufacturing is appreciated to such an extent that the most renowned international fashion brands entrust their shoe production to contractors of this area?
From preliminary research to the packaging of each item: all processes take place in our factory
Gestures, skills and knowledge of the materials we use to create new shoes every day are the heritage of this peculiar artisanal tradition, which has been treasured by our parents.
We have maintained and preserved it to the point that our Made in Italy is very radical.
We are honored to create our shoes with such a history behind us and artisanal knowledge between our hands and to have the possibility to convey all this to future generations.
Beautiful, comfortable and safe for a really, really long time
All Paoul shoes are created with great attention to the smallest detail: from the first pencil sketches to the selection of materials, from new technologies to product testing. In addition to our study and continuous skills updating, the secret ingredient of our work is listening to the suggestions of our partners, the best international professional dancers who test our shoes and regularly provide us with feedback on how to improve performance and comfort.
The best international professional dancers
test our shoes
For this reason, Paoul shoes do not get damaged but slowly wear out like the embellishment of a Venetian palace. Here, you can find our advice about the best way to preserve your shoes, and our Maintenance and Repair service enables you to further increase their duration and refresh their aesthetics.
Our aim is not making you buy more, but making you buy better.
When art meets technique with passion
Study. Rigor. Knowledge. Tact. Sensitivity. Genius.
From the first research and drawings to finishing and packaging, in addition to many other steps including meetings, the selection of models, turning drawings into last, cut file processing with a CAD software, printing, last carving, skiving, hemming, gluing, bandage, pre-assembly and assembly. The creation of Paoul shoes follows the same rhythm of an animated dance and it is the result of a process which is constantly nourished and improved.
Three souls, one aim: continuing the mission of Paolo
Maria Teresa, Katia, Cinzia.
Mother and daughters, just one aim: continuing, evolving and making the history of Paoul increasingly compelling. Katia manages finance and business strategy besides coordinating the different work teams and the commercial department. Cinzia supervises the creative and production departments and she deals with research and development. Maria Teresa plays an essential role with her great experience and detailed knowledge of all processes. Today, the family Pizzocaro continues to run the company founded by Paolo.