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From the first home-based factory to international success

Way back in 1964, Vittorio Virgili set up his first footwear factory in his own home. His entrepreneurial vision, a top-class product and hard work were rewarded. The company grew and evolved and in a short time it gained the confidence of the international markets which recognized the quality and creativity of real “Made in Italy” products.

Vittorio Virgili in Sant’Elpidio at the age of 24

Vittorio Virgili, in Sant’Elpidio a Mare old town centre, at the age of 24

Vittorio Virgili at his wedding

Vittorio Virgili, at his wedding, poses with some “Calzaturificio Giuliana” workers


1964, Sant’Elpidio a Mare: In a house like many others in the footwear manufacturing district of the Marche region, the “Calzaturificio Giuliana di Vittorio Virgili” came into existence. Within the confines of their home, from basement to attic, Vittorio and his parents were involved in starting up production of children’s shoes. Each family member was responsible for his or her own department and was also the only worker in it. After just 3 years, success came their way and, in 1967, it was time to transfer to larger premises, still in the old town centre of Sant’Elpidio a Mare. And that was the beginning.


1974: The children’s footwear sector was abandoned and there was a change of direction and strategy. The “Sir Hamilton” company was founded, manufacturing men’s shoes. The results arrived at once and in plenty. The footwear was highly appreciated for its strictly “British” style, as dictated by the fashion of the time. The high quality and the craftsmanship they were made with enabled the company to gain rapid popularity as its reputation grew.

Footballers Marco Tardelli and Pietro Fanna visit the Sir Hamilton footwear factory

Footballers Marco Tardelli and Pietro Fanna, at that time members of the National Military football team, visit the Sir Hamilton footwear factory to purchase men’s shoes.


1974-1981: Now that they were no longer considered merely as “newcomers”, but as one of the best manufacturers of top-of-the-range men’s shoes, they started to receive requests from all over Europe and also from the USA. In those years – and still with their pioneering spirit – they also began their travels to Hong Kong and the first sector trade-fairs in Germany and Italy. Thousands of pairs of hand-sewn moccasins with the “Sir Hamilton” name reached the best boutiques on the planet.


1981: Vittorio Virgili left Sir Hamilton and, with some faithful colleagues, set up the “Vittorio Virgili srl” firm, still in Sant’Elpidio a Mare. 20 years of great achievements followed, helped by the valuable contribution of Giovanna, Vittorio’s wife and lifelong companion. The 1980s saw them rise to fame on overseas markets; having started in Italy and Europe first of all, they then also expanded to Asia, where the brand was positioned in the best boutiques. In the 1990s, the explosion of the Russian market was welcomed with entrepreneurial enthusiasm and led to further successes.

Vittorio Virgili with Nobuki Akama

Vittorio Virgili with Nobuki Akama, a Japanese friend and long-standing customer

Vittorio Virgili and his wife Giovanna

Vittorio Virgili and his wife Giovanna at the entrance to the new Vittorio Virgili srl company


2002: After years of growth and hard work the present factory was built, larger and more in line with the image the brand had acquired in the eyes of the world. With so much space available to redesign and reorganize, they started production of women’s footwear under the leadership of Monica Virgili. This choice brought good results, since after just 3 years the French brand Sartore, followed by the Iceberg brand, decided to give production of their footwear to the company. The prestige of these collaborations enabled them to explore new opportunities, and these soon translated into a new growth in sales for the Vittorio Virgili brand.

Design by the stylist Catherine Sartore

Design by the stylist Catherine Sartore of one of the first footwear models produced for the Sartore brand