Email Mr. Kuti. I just emailed him regarding the same (a trip to Budapest).
Here's the email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
What about Saint Crispin's? They're made in Romania and costs even more than EGs.
It's true that they target the top tier market, but that doesn't legitimize the pricing given their costs, especially vis-à-vis Vass' pricing. From a production cost perspective I believe there isn't much difference between StC and Vass. Although, I believe if Vass wants to raise prices, they need to have better quality control and eliminate mistakes such as forgetting specs etc. But I'm not complaining, excellent shoes for a very cometitive price.
No special insight; I just happened to be there a couple of weeks ago, asking about many of these things - first time I've been to Budapest, and went solely for shoe-related business.
Not sure, but I do know that it's being made in England, and I think there might be more than one.
Yep, I think he said they wanted to bring in two new ones. The thing about the U and F is that the arrangement was rather imposed upon them by Isetan: as a big customer, they had that leverage, and they asked Ugolini to go and make Vass's lasts "less ugly"! You can imagine that this dynamic is not exactly flattering to a man of Mr Vass's standing, and apparently Mr U wasn't especially respectful about the Austro-Hungarian tradition either. So I think that somehow the lasts are associated with a negative experience in their minds - even though they've sold so well internationally.
All of Vass's own lasts have a more normal instep in my experience - along with wider standard width. The high insteps I would associate with the F, the U even more, and its Ascot lovechild the K, more still.
Use the normal address - email@example.com; they will get back to you eventually. But visiting is definitely the way to go if you can.
Hungary should celebrate the contribution Vass is making to quality tourist numbers!
St C versus Vass might also be explained by St C's having a more expensive retail presence: I'm sure having shops in Vienna is a lot more expensive than having them in Budapest. And I have to say, St C's QC standards do seem to be exceptional.
But for me, the more pressing point is about the Vass (or even St C) versus G&G/JL/EG: the latter are all machine-welted shoes, gemmed with glue to the insole, and therefore essentially no different to any other GY shoe in their structure, or labour cost. The lasts are lovely in many cases, the leather might be top notch, and the QC standards high. But for me the value proposition has never quite been good enough, and I can say honestly that I've never paid more for a GY shoe than I would for Vass - the most expensive being some AE shell and some C&J, on special offer.
I think St Crispin's are something of a middle way. Vass have their quirks, but remain great value for me. There will be other options, and I intend to arrange one personally by this time next year. ;)
Vass is hand welted and hand stiched and SC is only hand welted.
Meermin (both lines), Carmina and Vass are best value for shoes IMO. Although I have no Meermin and many others GYW shoes.
Spanish GYW shoes (I will only mentión Berwick, Meermin, Carmina, Lottusse.... ) are top notch compare to english/americans for less than 300-350 euros.
The value proposition of Mimo is quite clever.
Just my two cents.
I often read where people speak of value when comparing HW shoes to GYW shoes. However I've yet to read anyone state that because a shoe is hand welted that would equate to it lasting any longer than a GYW shoe, or that it would look any better than a GYW shoe, or that it would fit any better or wear any better than a GYW shoe. So where's the value?
It appears that the major difference is how the shoe is crafted and the effort that goes into making the shoe. An appreciation for the craftsmanship which is no small thing, but this again doesn't mean you can expect any better results. I mean gemming does not appear to occur that terribly often.