Salvatore Ferragamo was born, the eleventh of fourteen children, in 1898 in Bonito, a village about 100 kilometres from Naples. Even before he reached adolescence, he revealed a great passion for shoes; at the age of 11 he was apprenticed to a shoemaker in Naples and at 13 he opened his own shop in Bonito.

At the age of 14 he went to America to join one of his brothers who was working in a large footwear company in Boston. Salvatore was fascinated by the modern machinery and working procedures but at the same time saw its quality limitations. In the early Twenties he moved to Santa Barbara, California, to join another brother and here he opened a shoe- repair shop.