Getting to the sole of a comfy business

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 November, 2010, 12:00am

Mario Moretti Polegato can thank his lucky stars and his Italian spirit for the patented technology used in his 'breathable' shoes.

The founder and chairman of Geox Group got the idea 14 years ago when he was jogging in the Nevada desert, while on a business trip to the US for a wine convention. Like most people, Polegato (pictured) didn't feel comfortable with the heat and humidity in his sneakers, so he cut holes in the soles with a penknife.

That's when he got the idea for ventilated soles.

'I approached a couple of famous shoe manufacturers in both Europe and the United States but they didn't buy the idea, so I started my own company,' said the billionaire entrepreneur, who was in town to meet business partners yesterday. The Italian is also an heir of the Villa Sandi winery, operated by his younger brother.

'It was challenging at first because I knew nothing about shoes before,' Polegato said. His research and development team today includes engineers, chemists and technicians, who apply original technology to sports shoes and clothes. The breathable membrane used in Geox soles was derived from materials created by Nasa for spacesuits.

It certainly needs a touch of rocket science to produce these comfy loafers.