For Pedro Garcia, shoe design is truly a family affair

The Spanish footwear designer and his partner and fellow creative director bring different strengths to the table in their quest to expand the family business

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 November, 2016, 3:00pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 November, 2016, 5:46pm

“Design, for us, is like solving problems,” says Pedro Garcia, who along with his romantic partner Dale Dubovich, are creative directors of Spanish footwear label Pedro Garcia. “Sometimes you have a limitation, because of what your factory can do or the limited number of colours available. But your job is to still find that solution.”

For the past 25 years they have been creating shoes for the Spanish footwear label. Their bestsellers, such as the Albany and the Parson, have stood the test of time – Lane Crawford has been selling them for 10 years in Hong Kong.

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Pedro Garcia is headquartered in the Spanish town of Elda. The area has a long tradition of shoemaking. Together with Garcia’s sister Mila, who heads the business, the designers have turned a humble family brand into an international success story.

The company is a bit of an anomaly in an industry that is mostly dominated by big businesses, making its culture and story all the more interesting.

“When my grandfather started making shoes, they were for kids and men. Later my father decided that he wanted to make women’s shoes. But he was more focused on manufacturing services than on building a brand, since he was also busy taking care of the family and factory,” Garcia says.

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Now the third-generation siblings and Dubovich are looking to expand on the legacy. “We had to add our own mark to the company so we created the brand, designed collections and distributed them all over the world. This comes on top of manufacturing and preserving the know-how that our grandfather and father gave to us,” says Garcia.

Dubovich plays a pivotal role in the company. Talking to both designers, it is immediately clear why she and Garcia work side by side. Both bring different strengths to the table. Garcia has a stronger technical background, while Dubovich is known for her aptitude with colour.

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They also complete one another’s sentences. The chemistry has been obvious since they first met while studying at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology.

“When Pedro left New York for Spain, that’s when our phone bills became astronomical,” jokes Dubovich. “So I decided to leave for Spain. I tried working at a restaurant and taught some English lessons, but neither lasted long.”

Ultimately, both started collaborating on designing shoes for the family business. While Dubovich held a casual and unofficial role at the beginning, it was clear that she was an asset to the team. And when Dubovich presented her portfolio to key company members, after much discussion she officially came on board.

The family culture of the business has allowed this team to thrive based on social bonds. For them, these bonds are unbreakable.

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Garcia explains: “With family businesses, it’s a very passionate thing. We have a good education, family values that put us in our place, and we completely trust one another. This is something that you learn, just because it’s the way you share your home, and the way you live your life.”

Dubovich elaborates: “And you have this legacy to continue. I think that at the end, there is a positive balance that needs to be made. Even though the whole family is not there at all, I think we’re always trying to make them feel proud.”