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SHOEMANIA: EXECUTIVE STYLE SHOES

bmir, Business mir #15 - 2010-01 MAIL PRINT 
A top-of-the-line fashion shoe shop called Shoemania set up shop in Geneva in September 2008 on the city’s most luxurious main street. Aliya Guimalov, the Russian owner, is delighted and dreams of wider horizons.
With over 200 pairs in her own collection, Aliya Guimalov can’t deny it, she loves shoes. Originally from Tatarstan, she settled in Western Switzerland in 1993 and until recently deplored the absence of good places to shop for her personal collection of footwear. “Every time my husband and I wanted to buy a new pair of shoes, we had to go abroad – to Milan mostly.” At 27 years of age, Aliya took the bull by the horns and opened Shoemania on Geneva’s prestigious Rue du Rhône.
To help run the shop, Aliya called on her best friend and fellow Russian, Galina Khlivniuk. “We met at the Rosey private school in Rolle, a village on Lake Geneva.
Our parents wanted to give us the best education possible by encouraging us to discover other cultures, and they were right to do so. We both fell in love with Switzerland and decided to stay on after our studies. We like the peace and quiet here – and the quality of life – even if we do miss Russia once in a while.” In less than a year, Shoemania has carved out a place for itself in the hearts of Geneva’s stiletto fans. From Mario Bologna to Luciano Padovan, and including Vivien Lee, Le Silla and Cesare Paciotti…the world’s most luxurious brands rub heels on Shoemania’s shelves. “I got in touch with Italian specialists on shoes and accessories,” says Aliya Guimalov. “In my opinion, their work is generally more outstanding and more intricate than that done by designers who also make clothes, for example.” Of the 15 or so brands the owner contacted, a dozen luxury shoe manufacturers found her ideas appealing. “I now realise just how badly Geneva needed a luxury shoe boutique like Shoemania.
When they discover our collection, people often exclaim, ‘At last a shop with something other than the classics!’ We’re thrilled to be able to respond to this demand – especially for women – but also for men and children.” Supported by her husband and family in this endeavour, Aliya selects boots, slippers, ballet shoes and even sports shoes which retail for between 200 and 2,800 Swiss francs. A few American-designed evening dresses, ranging in price from 400 to 1,800 Swiss francs, complete Shoemania’s collection. “Swiss tastes are more conservative than Russian fashions, which are extravagant to say the least. We try to offer something for everyone as our clientele is fairly diverse, but we’ve also noticed that the young Swiss crowd is starting to go in for more colour and originality.” Her favourite styles? “I love high heels.
I think women should wear them as often as possible. They’re both elegant and sexy. That’s why I like Gianmarco Lorenzi’s glamorous styles so much.
We have a few of his creations in limited editions.” Another of the shop’s signature items are the fur-lined boots by the Australian brand Koolaburra, customized by Aliya and Galina. “This style, which is available for women, men and children, sold extremely well last winter. It is produced exclusively for Shoemania and features the Russian flag as well as the inscription “Mother Russia”.” The two young women pride themselves on their line of “valenkis.” These typically Russian slippers were designed to be worn in temperatures dropping to below – 40oC over 500 years ago. “For the time being, we are the only shop in Switzerland selling the new “Russy” brand from “Judari”.
These woollen valenkis are both modern and fashionable. They are made with entirely organic materials and only four pairs a day can be manufactured as they’re completely hand made.” Both chic and laid back, this boutique displays its models in a 260m2 space on two floors. “People have to feel at home here. We’ve put in a bar, flat screen TVs and sofas for our clients. They have to be able to come try things on and browse around, but also stop by for a chat while sipping a glass of champagne or a coffee, without feeling obliged to buy anything.” “Right now, I sincerely hope that Shoemania continues to become progressively well-known in Geneva!” Aliya Guimalov sums up by saying.
“We’re also thinking about opening some franchises in the next couple of years.” The Shoemania spirit could then spread far beyond Switzerland’s borders.
Shoemania Rue du Rhône 80 1204 Geneva Switzerland T. +41 22 310 74 30 www.shoemania.ch

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