Brazilian designer Alexandre Birman is a global powerhouse among footwear designers. As heir and chief executive of Arezzo & Co., Birman oversees one of the largest shoe empires in his native company. Brands offered at include his own luxury label, family brand Arezzo, Anacapri, Schutz and Fiever. His namesake line — known for its use of exotic skins in vibrant hues and prints — is globally renowned, and a firm favourite of A-listers such as Blake Lively, Katy Perry, Gigi Hadid , and the Duchess of Cambridge.
Birman was born into a family of shoe makers: his father Anderson Birman, chairman of Arezzo & Co., and uncle Jefferson founded shoe brand Arezzo in 1972. By the 1990s Arezzo had rapidly expanded, becoming a household name in Brazil. However, in 1995, aged 19, Birman junior decided to start his own label, Schutz, instead of joining the ranks of the business.
The designer started Schutz with a $3 million investment from his father, but very quickly the venture became commercially successful and self-sufficient. By 2007 Schutz was delivering annual revenues of over $64 million. It was then that his father invited him to fold Schutz into Arezzo & Co, and four years later, when the company was preparing for an IPO, Birman senior handed leadership of the group over to his son. The firm has the advantage of owning its factories, located outside the southern city of Porto Alegre.
Today Arezzo & Co. dominates the Brazilian domestic market, selling more than 11 million pairs of shoes annually. And while roughly 90 percent of Arezzo & Co.’s business is Brazil-based, Birman is building on his existing international reach. The Schutz brand boasts 80 stores in Brazil, and has been identified as having huge growth potential stateside. There are two stand-alone boutiques in the US: one on New York’s Madison Avenue, and a second on Beverly Hills Drive in Los Angeles, which opened in 2016.
In Europe, the focus is amplifying the Alexandre Birman label, launched by the designer in 2008. Already the brand has high-profile stockists worldwide, including Net-a-Porter, Bergdorf Goodman, Luisa Via Roma, Harvey Nichols and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Birman's designs have long been a favourite among prominent celebrities and public figures — from Bella Hadid to Kate Middleton — and was the footwear of choice for Gisele Bündchen when she made her cameo during the 2016 Rio Olympics opening ceremony wearing a bespoke pair of stilettos. In January 2019, the designer expanded beyond heels to debut a pair of sneakers, worn by Sandra Oh at the Golden Globes After-Party.