Made in Croatia meets Vogue.
In the world of fashion, there is no more prestigious magazine than Vogue. It is considered a great success for a designer and a brand to be presented in the magazine. And that is precisely what has happened with Startas shoes produced by Borovo from Vukovar. That was a result of many months of efforts by their American distributors, the Grgurev family. The pink model with a print of a unicorn from the spring collection which is not yet on sale has found itself in the company of a Chanel bracelet and a Cutler and Gross sunglasses in a section titled “How to bring a touch of childhood to adult fashion”, reports Jutarnji List on January 21, 2016.
Robert and Michelle Grgurev are children of Croatian emigrants and the feature in Vogue is a result of their marketing efforts. They have vacationed for years in Zadar and on Dugi Otok. When they entered a Borovo store, they were thrilled with what they saw and decided to bring Startas shoes to America. “It is very difficult to bring a new brand to the market, in competition with Keds, Vans and Superga, which have been part of the US market for decades. But, the editors of Vogue fell in love with Startas shoes decorated with prints created by Iva Ćurković. A pink unicorn has become a real sensation”, said Robert Grgurev.
He stressed that, in addition to the unique design, the editors also liked the story of Startas shoes designed and handmade in Vukovar. Most sneakers are produced by large machines in distant countries where production costs are much lower. “The fact that Startas shoes are produced in the same factory where they are designed, one at a time, with natural materials, is a story which helps the development of the brand”, explained Grgurev.
Designer Iva Ćurković was naturally delighted. “When Michelle told me about it, I was overjoyed. Who would not be?” says the designer. Ćurković has been working for Borovo for the last two years. She has come up with various patterns for Startas shoes. “My favourite are prints. Some of them I produce on a computer, some of them I draw by hand and then scan, and I find inspiration in everything: films, nature… The unicorn is a really special pattern. I usually draw a dozen patterns before I make the final decision”, says Ćurković. “My wish is to attract younger customers who often ignore our shops because they think our shoes are designed just for the elderly people.”
First Startas shoes were produced in 1976 as sport shoes for table tennis. The handmade shoes with rubber soles made from natural materials were very popular in the 1980s, and in 1987 they were chosen as the official footwear of the Universiade held in Zagreb.
Borovo now has 760 employees and 95 stores, but these numbers used to be much higher. Company director Gordan Kolundžić says that in 2013, when the new management led by him came to Borovo, the company had a debt of 180 million kuna. They have managed to reduce it to 18 million kuna, without selling a single store. Borovo is still the largest employer in Vukovar and produces shoes for an Italian brand. However, many of its products are more popular abroad than in Croatia. “If every seventh Croatian citizen came to our shop once a year, jobs in Borovo would be safe”, says the director.