By Jan Westmark
Franco Tucci is the real deal. An Italian bootmaker. A master- craftsman. A designer. His love of fabulous footwear is rooted in his genetic makeup — passed down to him from his father who became a shoemaker’s apprentice in a small Italian village when he was just a child.
Franco was born in Rome and grew up immersed in the world of shoes and boot making. He not only embraced his family’s passion for footwear but has taken it a step further — launching his own boot company, Tucci, producing exquisite custom boots that are sold on every continent.
“My passion certainly comes from my father, Gianni Tucci,” Franco said. “My father started working for a shoemaker when he was only 9 years old. Given the lack and cost of raw materials, he had the task of straightening the nails. After four years the shoemaker died and my father took over the shop and became the town’s shoemaker.”
When Franco’s father was 17 he moved to Rome to gain experience. His passion flourished and was recognized, just as Franco’s talent is recognized today. Like father, like son.
“When my dad was 27, he opened his first shoe company and over the years produced various types of footwear, both high fashion and ready-to-wear,” Franco said. “In the second half of the ’80s he entered the riding and equestrian field and named the company Parlanti.”
After completing his studies in 1986, Franco joined the family’s business with the desire of honing his craft. He quickly discovered he had a talent as a designer and loved expressing his creativity. “I have worked in all production stages, but the thing I like best is the finishings — that is the tannery and the polishing of the leathers, because it’s at that moment that the leather comes alive,” he said.
While falling in love with boot making, Franco also discovered he had a deep fondness and passion for horses and riding. “I practiced English riding as a amateur, not competitively, just for the pleasure of enjoying this wonderful feeling,” he said.
Franco launched Tucci in 2006 while at the same time moving to Northern Italy with his wife, Angela; son, Samuel; and daughter, Silvia. “At this point, I started from scratch, or better yet from one, because I was by myself with my knowledge, skill and ability,” Franco said. “I will have to say it was quite a challenge!”
It was a challenge that Franco was able to master. “My idea and my goal is that that every person who is wearing my boots must feel them as a part of the body,” he said, adding that Tucci boots focus on attention to detail and each boot owner can customize their boots 100 percent, with color combinations, design details, laser engraving and more — making each pair of boots unique and totally personal.
Franco believes boots should be beautiful and in 2007 he became the first boot designer to use crystals in riding boots, creating a new collection of boots designed exclusively for women with a wide range of designs and inserts. Tucci partnered with Swarovski, and while Franco thought the idea was good, he says he was surprised that it turned out to be far more than that — it became a real success, winning awards and helping Tucci to evolve into the company it is today.
“My constant desire is to create, design and develop new projects,” Franco said. “It’s what makes me happy and proud of the work that I do and always pushes me towards the future.”