AZZUL is a new luxury footwear store in New Canaan that hopes to tap into an emerging trend of athluxe -- the merging of high fashion and athletic leisurewear.
Owned by Wilton, CT, resident Manuel “Manny” Rodrigues, AZZUL opened its flagship store at 1 Morse Court in the heart of New Canaan’s downtown area a little over a month ago. AZZUL’s footwear features colorful, eye-catching styles that are made by hand in Portugal.
“We are beyond excited for our flagship store to be in New Canaan,” Rodrigues said. “We hope our designs make people smile and appreciate the amazing craftsmanship, creativity and heritage of Portuguese artisans.” The store also has locations in New York, NY and Newport, RI.
Currently, AZZUL features a spring collection of two athluxe sneaker styles for women and men, the lace-up Braga and the slip-on Faro. There are design variations in suede, leather and intricately embroidered canvas. Several styles include artistic images of the sardine, an iconic symbol of Portugal’s centuries-old fishing industry.
Coming soon to AZZUL will be a fall collection that will include flats, heels, sandals and clogs for women, and high-top sneakers for men. Rodrigues said the women’s collection will be unveiled this week, with the new men’s styles arriving in October.
Rodrigues said making shoes that are comfortable and made to last far exceed the need to be stylish.
“I know I’ve succeeded when my customers say their shoes are just as comfortable two years from now as they were on the first day they bought them,” Rodrigues said. “Our products are handmade to ensure the highest quality.”
But Rodrigues’ design influence is also evident on every pair of his shoes. Bright colors, especially blue hues, are featured prominently. The colors are reminiscent of ones used in azulejos, a tin-glazed ceramic tilework that adorns the exterior of nearly every building in his Portuguese hometown of Braga.
Rodrigues says azulejos are a symbol of Portugal’s art, history, folk traditions and significant industries, many featuring the blue hues that he used as inspiration for many of the shoes in his premier collection.
“I designed my styles with a wide range of customers in mind, from teens to adults, and for work and play,” Rodrigues said.
Opening a store during the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging, but Rodrigues is confident better days are ahead.
“(Opening) has been more difficult than we expected,” he said. “Foot traffic has been very light, especially during August. We’re hoping business will pick up now that schools are back in session.”
The AZZUL store in New Canaan is open Monday through Thursday, and Saturdays, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Store hours on Friday are from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Health protocols are followed with masks and gloves available to shoppers who need them.
Shop online or get more information on AZZUL at https://azzul.com/.