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Melissa shoes: from Brazil to the world of fashion

Melissa Shoes' journey: from fashion designer collaborations to global sustainability

Melissa shoes: from Brazil to the world of fashion
Photo credit: Melissa Instagram

The inspiration to create the first Melissa shoes came from observing the transparent rubber shoes used by fishermen on the Brazilian coast. This durable and versatile material became the heart of the first collections, which immediately won over the public with their practical and aesthetically appealing design. But let’s see together how and where this brand was born.

Brand History

Melissa, is a Brazilian footwear brand, was founded in 1979 by brothers Pedro and Alexandre Grendene. Their mission was to revolutionize the concept of shoes made of plastic, an often underestimated material, transforming it into a sustainable and aesthetically innovative fashion choice. The name “Melissa” was inspired by the song of the same name by French singer Julien Clerc, popular in Brazil at the time, symbolizing the elegance and originality that the brand aimed to embody.

Foundation and early products

Initially, Melissa introduced flat sandals and ballet flats to the Brazilian market that were made with an injected molding process that allowed for precise details and complex shapes.

melissa shoes | shoestechnologies
Melissa Aranha
Photo credit: Melissa

Melissa’s first iconic model is the Aranha beach sandals, inspired by fishermen’s footwear.

From those modest beginnings, Melissa has quickly expanded its offering to include a wide range of models: from classic ballet flats and sandals to dress boots, from trendy sneakers to exclusive heeled shoes. Each model features recyclable plastic, known as Melflex ®.

It is a material patented by Melissa in 1982, which proved to be an instant success in the Brazilian footwear market thanks to its resistance, flexibility and comfort. Being recyclable and moldable in different shapes and colors, Melflex® has become synonymous with eco-friendly footwear, helping to reduce the environmental impact of the industry. Melflex® shoes are prized for their lightness, durability,  and ease of maintenance, establishing themselves as a mainstay in the sustainable footwear industry.

These models immediately impressed with their lightness, water resistance and attractive design, exceeding the expectations of consumers accustomed to unaesthetic and uncomfortable plastic shoes.

The evolution of the brand

Melissa has made a remarkable evolutionary journey that goes beyond the simple production of footwear, transforming its Milan headquarters into an international headquarters. This strategy has been an integral part of Melissa’s plan to expand its global presence and solidify its role as a leader in sustainable fashion. Fusing Italian creativity with vibrant Brazilian DNA, the brand has launched innovative projects that not only expand distribution, but also spread brand awareness internationally.

Over the years, Melissa has distributed over 32 million pairs of shoes in more than 70 countries, becoming a symbol of global and sustainable fashion.

melissa shoes | shoestechnologies
Photo credit: Melissa

We can define the brand as a real voice in the movement for a sustainable and vegan lifestyle. Recognized by the Vegan Society for its commitment to creating products that are totally free of animal-derived materials, Melissa stands out for its ethical and transparent approach. The motto “Be It” reflects the brand’s call for consumers to adopt a more conscious lifestyle, supported by clear and efficient production processes that incorporate sustainability at every stage.

Since 2011, Melissa has established a Sustainable Development Department made up of 32 professionals dedicated to promoting eco-sustainable production practices through recycling and resource optimization. This commitment not only reduces the environmental impact, but also contributes to the financial well-being of human resources, promoting an ethical standard that permeates the entire production chain.

Collaboration with fashion designer

The brand has become a benchmark in the fashion world by collaborating with some of the most iconic personalities in art and design. As early as 1983, Melissa began her first collaboration with fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier, followed by historic partnerships with Vivienne Westwood starting in 2008. These collaborations have resulted in unique collections that combine haute couture aesthetics with the practicality and accessibility of Melissa footwear.

First collaboration: Jean Paul Gaultier

The collaboration between Melissa and Jean Paul Gaultier, which began in 1983, celebrates 40 years of innovation with a limited edition capsule collection. This collaboration takes inspiration from the punk universe and the distinctive creations of the famous French designer.

The Melissa Punk Love Pump x Jean Paul Gaultier is the latest result of the fruitful collaboration between the famous Brazilian brand Melissa and the world-renowned fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier. This model represents a unique fusion of romantic, gothic, punk and 80s influences, creating an eye-catching and distinctive design.

Made of Melflex®, the shoe features a mid-height thick block heel , which ensures a feminine and graceful silhouette. Punk decorative elements, such as studs, buckles, and straps, add a bold touch of rebellion, making this model not only a work of art, but also an expression of personal style. The lined insole ensures maximum comfort, allowing you to wear these shoes throughout the day without sacrificing looks.

Available in a variety of colors, from traditional to bolder hues, the Melissa Punk Love Pump is ideal for those looking to stand out in style. This model not only adds to Melissa’s long line of successful collaborations with haute couture designers, but continues to demonstrate how innovation in footwear design can be seamlessly matched by sustainability.

The Melissa Becky Punk Love x Jean Paul Gaultier is a bold and imaginative  interpretation of Melissa’s famous mule Becky. These shoes are made of Melflex®, a recyclable material, ensuring comfort and respect for the environment. Metallic spirals and punk details give it a modern and rebellious touch.

The cushioned insole provides maximum comfort, while the platform outsole adds height without sacrificing stability. Available in various colors and finishes, the Melissa Becky Punk Love adapts to every personal style.

Perfect for any occasion, these shoes combine fashion and functionality. Each pair comes with a fabric pouch and custom box, adding a touch of luxury to this unique collaboration.

But who is Jean Paul Gaultier?

One of the most influential and innovative designers  in the fashion world. Born in 1952 in France, he began his career working for Pierre Cardin before launching his own label in 1976. Gaultier is known for his bold style, which often defies genre conventions and combines elements of punk, gothic, and romantic.

Her iconic creations include the  famous conical bustier worn by Madonna during her “Blonde Ambition” tour and her collections that explore themes such as diversity and inclusivity. His ability to innovate and break the rules has made him a living legend in the fashion world.

Melissa & Vivienne Westwood

The Melissa x Vivienne Westwood collections, first launched in 2008, immediately won over fashion fans around the world. The collaboration debuted with the Anglomania line, inspired by the glamour of the 70s and featuring distinctive elements such as hearts, bows and wings, up to the iconic Vivienne Westwood logo. These shoes, with bright colors and a bold design, perfectly embody the rebellious and creative spirit of the British designer.

From this collaboration, a new model of sandals belonging to the same Anglomania line has recently been presented, we are talking about the Melissa Ciao Sandals model  that evokes a retro atmosphere, with a punk and vintage touch thanks to its wide geometric bands and its glossy finish.

melissa shoes | shoestechnologies
Vivienne Westwood Sandal Anglomania X Melissa Ciao
Photo credit: Melissa

With its classic sole, it is able to provide comfort to the feet. This sandal is made in Brazil with durable, flexible, hypoallergenic and bubblegum-scented materials. In addition, it is certified 100% vegan and recyclable, combining style and sustainability.

Vivienne Westwood: A British Fashion Icon

Vivienne Westwood, born on April 8, 1941 in Tintwistle, United Kingdom, is one of the most revolutionary and influential figures in the fashion world. He began his career in the 1970s, establishing himself with a punk rock style that challenged the conventions of traditional fashion. With a career spanning over 40 years, Westwood is renowned for his ability to combine provocation and haute couture, influencing not only fashion but also popular culture.

The Marc Jacbos x Melissa Summer 24 Capsule Collection

Following the success of the first collection released in 2023, Melissa and Marc Jacobs present a second capsule collection for the 2024 season. This exclusive collection draws inspiration from Marc Jacobs’ ready-to-wear line, exploring innovative shapes, monogram prints and metallic finishes, combined with Melissa’s DNA of plasticity, transparency and eco-friendly materials.

The Melissa Becky model  combines style and sustainability. Made of Melflex, it features an exclusive design with Marc Jacobs’ signature and a variety of colors. It is the perfect accessory for those who love fashion, comfort, and eco-friendly design.

The Melissa Mule returns with new models that satisfy all fashion lovers. This model has a shiny effect on the outside and matte on the inside, with a 9 cm heel to ensure great comfort.

The ballerina-inspired Melissa Ruby has a light, casual shape that’s perfect for any moment. With a metallic finish and a PVC ornament, it is made from the Melflex material, which is 100% recyclable.

Marc Jacobs: One of the most influential designers

Known for his unique style that blends elements of grunge, luxury,  and streetwear, he founded his brand in 1986 with the launch of his first collection. He served as creative director of Louis Vuitton from 1997 to 2014, transforming the brand with innovative collections. Her collaborations, such as the one with Melissa, explore new shapes and materials, demonstrating her continued commitment to innovation and quality.

Collaboration related to sustainability

In addition to collaborations with fashion designers, Melissa has established partnerships with non-governmental organizations and social projects to promote sustainability.

“Melissa Plastic Lover” with WWF

In 2019, the brand launched the “Melissa Plastic Lover” initiative in partnership with WWF. This project aimed to raise consumer awareness of the importance of recycling plastics by collecting over 500 tonnes of recycled plastic. The initiative involved Melissa’s customers in the collection and recycling of used shoes, transforming them into new products.

Collaboration with Fondazione Campana

In 2020, Melissa started a collaboration with the Campana Foundation, founded by renowned Brazilian designers Fernando and Humberto Campana. This partnership has led to the creation of a shoe collection inspired by the works of art of the Campana brothers, who are known for their innovative use of recycled and reclaimed materials. The collection reflects a shared commitment to sustainability and creative design, using eco-friendly materials to create unique and artistic products. The collaboration has further cemented Melissa’s reputation as a pioneer in sustainable design.

One of the most iconic models in this collaboration is the Melissa Campana Papel, which stands out for its bold aesthetic and handcrafted construction. Inspired by the waves of cardboard boxes and the characteristic organic textures of the Campana brothers’ works, the Melissa Campana Papel is also made of Melflex®.

This model represents a perfect balance between contemporary art and fashion, paying homage to the Campana Foundation’s innovative vision and cementing Melissa’s reputation as a pioneer in sustainable design.

Through her collaborations and commitment to ethical practices, Melissa continues to redefine footwear as a statement of style and sustainability on the global stage.

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