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Vanissa Antonious and Alan Buanne, founders of footwear brand Neous.

Handmade in Italy: why London-based footwear designers use Naples’ best artisans

Neous founders Alan Buanne and Vanissa Antonious reveal what makes their footwear stand out from the crowd


How did you meet? Alan Buanne: “We met when we were 17 years old and working in retail in Sydney, and have remained best friends ever since. Footwear runs in my family – my grand­father was a shoe designer from Naples, Italy, who opened his own factory and stores when he moved to Sydney in the 1970s. I studied footwear and started my career at Nicholas Kirkwood in London.”

Vanissa Antonious: “I worked at Harper’s Bazaar as a fashion assistant in Australia and worked my way up. I moved to London around the same time as Alan and we just started talking about the possibility of launching a brand. It happened in 2017.”

What makes Neous different? Antonious: “We wanted to create shoes that were versatile, wearable and accessible. Our styles are not tricked up too much. We still create an element of uniqueness, but we let one part shine so every­thing else speaks quietly. There’s a sense of fluidity in every design – the eye line is never broken.”

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You emphasise Italian craftsmanship. Why? Buanne: “Quality is important to us. It goes back to this idea of creating products that have a longer lifespan. We use factories in Naples that work with brands like Ferragamo so they really know shoemaking. When we started we spent six months just developing the lasts. We often jump into the car and visit artisans who have been recommended to us. You can’t find these people at trade fairs and their skills are amazing.”

How has being based in London influenced you? Antonious: “I was always wearing 130mm Gucci shoes but when we moved to London, it was about coming down. It’s such a diverse city and very inspiring culturally. London is always encouraging you to be creative, so there are so many brands popping up. It has a very young culture so there’s a lot of experimentation going on, which is exciting.”

Neous shoes are striking for their Bauhaus-inspired silhouettes.

You are part of a new wave of contemporary footwear brands. Why do you think this category is booming? Buanne: “People today are smart – they can see through branding and know what a product is worth. They are looking for value and are watching where they are spending their money. This has led to this category emerging.”

What’s next for Neous? Buanne: “The next logical step would be women’s bags but we are taking our time. One category we have started dabbling in is eveningwear shoes.”

Neous is available at On Pedder and Lane Crawford.