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Italian shoe makers

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
It seems that some Italian brands sell an infinite number of models. When I look at the catalogue or website of British, American or French shoe makers or when I look in brick/mortar or online stores the same models can be found everywhere. But some Italian brands seems to have as many lines of shoes as there are stores on the planet. Two people who would see the shoes of the same brand in two different stores would think they have seen completely different brands. Does this mean that some Italian factories are just that, factories? Do they do special orders only? I.e. is it the retailer who designs the shoes he wants to sell instead of choosing off a catalogue? Mathieu
post #2 of 8
Quote:
Does this mean that some Italian factories are just that, factories? Do they do special orders only? I.e. is it the retailer who designs the shoes he wants to sell instead of choosing off a catalogue?
This is essentially the way Rider has described the process in past posts, that generally Italian makers are very flexible and don't think of "standard models" in the same way that American and English makers do.
post #3 of 8
That's exactly right. That's why you want to puke when you see something advertised as being made by the same people who make brand X. A production shop might make 10 or 100 different constructions at different quality and price levels from crap to top. The designer needs to be careful to ensure that proprietary designs/ideas are not sold to anyone else afterward.
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
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That's why you want to puke [...]
Careful Chuck, you're gonna stain your tie.
post #5 of 8
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It seems that some Italian brands sell an infinite number of models. When I look at the catalogue or website of British, American or French shoe makers or when I look in brick/mortar or online stores the same models can be found everywhere.
To some extent, this is true, but look at what some retailers do with Alden (see Alden of Carmel, for example) or with Grenson (see, Paul Stuart, although the website doesn't have a good sample of what PS does with their Grenson shoes). Most of the major British, American, and French manufacturers have a large number of patterns that you just don't see in catalogues and that they don't make unless a retailer wants them to do so. Retailers tend toward the models in the catalogues because that's what the manufacturers tend to maintain stock in: it's nice to know that you can get a singleton 10D sent out if you need it without having to order 12 more pairs of the same pattern.
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But some Italian brands seems to have as many lines of shoes as there are stores on the planet. Two people who would see the shoes of the same brand in two different stores would think they have seen completely different brands.
In many cases, this is true. I've seen literally hundreds of Gravati patterns, for example, and other manufacturers are similar. They also often you virtually unlimited detailing options -- you can make virtually any shoe that you want. To me, this is a strength: you can get exactly what you want rather than relying on what the manufacturer thinks you should carry.
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Does this mean that some Italian factories are just that, factories? Do they do special orders only? I.e. is it the retailer who designs the shoes he wants to sell instead of choosing off a catalogue?
To a large extent, yes. The quality of a retailer's offerings from Gravati or Martegani depends on his ability to put together good shoes. I'll tell you this: when doing special orders for myself, I rarely hear No from an Italian manufacturer. That's not the case with British, French, or American ones.
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
So basically any Gravati or Martegani is a special order. Just a special order from the retailer instead of a special order from the customer. Correct? One problem is that knowing that a store carries such shoes is not a very useful piece of information, it does not tell you much about what you'll be finding there. The one store in Singapore that carries Gravati and Barrett shoes has mostly crocodile/lizard/ostrich slip-ons. I double-checked the label and they are really made in Italy not in Vegas. Odd. Mathieu
post #7 of 8
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So basically any Gravati or Martegani is a special order. Just a special order from the retailer instead of a special order from the customer. Correct?
Yes - exactly. Although, you should be aware, each factory does have it's core production that is generally the starting point for any retailer to work from. Also, none of these factories will make JUST special orders for individual customers of an individual retailer. There has to be a balance of 'stock' and 'custom orders'. Gravati, for example, will make one-of's, but only for a retailer who carries a good selection of shoes in-stock, and they will only process specials (generally) when an order of stock shoes is also in production for that retailer. Also, there is a charge for this...30% in Gravati's case. So, if someone were to call me today with a request for a Gravati shoe that would have to be made-up just for them, since I have an order for stock pending with delivery expected last week of May - first week of June, there is a SMALL possibility that I could satisfy that order in this delivery. The charge to the customer would be the regular price from me ($425) plus 30%, or $552.50. If you were to call next month, when Gravati is busy producing the Fall orders for delivery to retailers in August/September, you would probably have to wait till September for a special, if not October. And payment is taken in advance. And, not 'everything' can be done...I've turned down many orders from customers who want something that is either too bizaare or simply expect too much from the 'custom' option for me to feel comfortable placing the order. Now, my relationship with Martegani is different in that I have deliveries scheduled every month, and he actually likes to make specials, as he sees it as a way to differentiate his production from the competition. Turn-around time is generally 6 weeks and the 'fee' is minimal, and since I have regular deliveries, can be absorbed by me into the invoices so I really don't have to charge but a few dollars on specials. So, in sum: 1) Italian factories are flexable and offer customers individual opportunities. 2) Italians work on a different clock than the rest of the world, so the delivery times are...flexable. 3) You will usually pay a premium for your special orders. 4) This type of production is usually only offered thru retailers the Italians trust to give them consistent stock orders as well as reasonable requests for specials. In other words, the orders have to make 'sense', so the retailer has to be able to understand the limits of each factory - not as easy as it seems.
post #8 of 8
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One problem is that knowing that a store carries such shoes is not a very useful piece of information, it does not tell you much about what you'll be finding there.
This is true, but I tend to look at this as a good thing. Any store carrying Allen-Edmonds is pretty much going to have the same models. Sure, store A might have a couple of the more exotic ones and store B might have a slightly different selection, but everything in both stores will be something that you've seen before. Not so with stores carrying Gravati. It's always very interesting to see what individual retailers have decided to do, and the variety out there is much greater than for most other manufacturers. It's not a problem once you learn what the different retailers carry.
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The one store in Singapore that carries Gravati and Barrett shoes has mostly crocodile/lizard/ostrich slip-ons. I double-checked the label and they are really made in Italy not in Vegas. Odd.
Well, I imagine that they carry what sells. It mystifies me that stores tend to carry those awful Santoni low-vamp loafers when there are so many wonderful Santoni shoes to choose from, but that's what the customer apparently wants. (And, incidentally, Gravati gets some very nice crocodile and ostrich skins. I wouldn't have them made into loafers, but maybe that's just me.)
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