On the Rise: Bruno Magli Collaborates with Dress for Success

Monday, October 29, 2018

You can call it an unexpected coincidence or a kismet match. Luxury brand Bruno Magli and not-for-profit organization Dress for Success both literally started from the ground up—in basements.

Now global companies, the two have come together for a charitable partnership in tandem with the “Bruno in Business” video series . Spanning 59 seconds each, these show a glimpse into the lives of C-suite entrepreneurs who share candid stories of their career journeys. “We profiled a variety of leaders in different industries and really looked at what each of them have done to create a solution,” Michael DeVirgilio says president of the Marquee Group (parent company of Bruno Magli).

Among those featured are Joi Gordon, CEO of Dress for Success; Claudia Ciuti, women’s footwear designer for Bruno Magli; Justin Woolverton, founder and president of low-calorie, high-protein ice cream brand, Halo Top; and Chris Riccobono, co-founder of men’s apparel company UNTUCKit.

Bruno Magli itself started back in 1936. The founder who holds the brand’s namesake crafted women’s shoes with his siblings, Marino and Maria, in the basement of their home in Bologna, Italy. “They started from pennies and turned it to a world-class brand. We’re celebrating that tonight,” says Cory M. Baker, COO of Marque Brands, last Wednesday at the opening party for the brand’s new Soho boutique. Throughout the years, one factor that has remained consistent within the brand synonymous with classic Italian leather footwear is its dedication to quality and craftsmanship. Nowadays, you can walk into any Bruno Magli boutique and find goods ranging from women’s and men’s shoes to handbags, watches, apparel and socks.

As for Dress of Success, it all started with $5,000 and a dream. In 1996, founder and then-law student Nancy Lublin received an inheritance from her great-grandfather which funded the start of the organization. She teamed up with three nuns in New York and opened the original headquarters in the basement of a church on West 4th Street. The mission was—and continues to be—to provide low-income women with professional attire and career advancement programs to help support their job search process. Today, it has expanded to more than 150 cities in 20 countries.

“I saw the founder on a news show and thought to make a donation since I was a lawyer and had suits in my wardrobe,” says Gordon. “After just one phone call with her, I joined the board, and within a year, I left what I was doing and went to work in the basement of that church. I believe so much not only in her but of this mission and needed to be a part of something that was bigger than me.”

As part of the collaboration, Bruno Magli gifted 100 pairs of shoes to Dress for Success. A portion of sales for its gala pump (a classic, pointed-toe 4-inch heel that comes in four colors) will also be donated to the organization through Giving Tuesday on November 27th.

“You don’t know what you don’t have,” says Gordon. “Many of the women who come to us are just battling a lot to get back to work. When you give her something so beautiful as a pair of shoes, she literally stands tall. That’s what the partnership means to us—it’s about giving her strength and confidence back.”


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