Totally disagree, and the advice to wear AE and C&J instead of D&G is misguided. Save 'em for when you have to wear 'em to work. Masterpp, check out the reviews below.
Originally Posted by jcusey
A. Testoni -- Three different levels of quality. Regular-line shoes (now called Studium, I believe) are okay, if a little bit fashion-forward. The Black Label shoes are better. They're all Bologna-constructed, and every so often I see a model that I actually could wear. Most of them are a bit too fashion-forward for my tastes, and the prices (over $700 per pair) are high. The third line is called Amedeo Testoni and consists of Goodyear-welted and Norwegian constructed shoes. These are excellently-made but mostly unattractive to my eyes. They're also extremely expensive for what you're getting.
Bruno Magli -- Magli has a number of different lines. The only line worth talking about is the Platinum line. They appear to be well made (I think that they're Blake-constructed), but the designs are a bit over-the-top for me. They're also very expensive for the quality. I don't believe that Magli actually owns any production facilities but rather contracts all production out to third parties.
Silvano Lattanzi -- Handmade shoes of impeccable quality. Lattanzi was originally brought to the United States by Louis Boston and is a pioneer here of handmade shoes and very high prices. He's best known for gunboat-sized Norwegian- or Bentivegna-constructed shoes with flashy antiquing, but he can do more subdued styles as well.
Kiton -- Kiton's shoes have a eye-popping antiquing similar to what one sees on Lattanzi shoes, but the last shapes tend to be sleeker and the designs, while unusual, are generally more conservative.
Sutor Mantellassi -- I will admit that I have a soft spot in my heart for Sutor Mantellassi shoes. I love the way that they do Norwegian construction (with a single row of stitching rather than the flashier two braided rows favored by other makers) and their innovative use of skin stitching. Like most Italian producers, Mantellassi has more than one line: a Blake-constructed line of good but not outstanding quality and a Norwegian or Goodyear-constructed line that is of excellent quality.
Gravati -- One of my favorite Italian manufacturers, not because there aren't better producers out there (there are) but because Gravati makes an excellent shoe for a reasonable price and because they are almost infinitely flexible in what they can and will produce. Over the years, I have placed many, many special orders for Gravati shoes, and they are always right and of remarkably consistent quality. Their shoes are mostly Blake- and Blake/Rapid-constructed, but they will make Goodyear-welted shoes on request.
Borgioli -- Borgioli is a major producer of private-label shoes, some of which are made to execrable standards of quality and which Borgioli would never want to claim. Hey, they need to survive. The shoes produced under their own label are very good. Most are Blake-constructed. A few are Norwegian-constructed, and they are excellent.
Romano Martegani -- Martegani operates a very good Blake and Blake/Rapid factory, and they are endlessly flexible. Gravati will almost never say no to a customer's cockamamie ideas for a shoe, but they will say no sometimes. Martegani won't. These are good, not excellent, shoes offered for a reasonable price. User Ron Rider, formerly the shoe manager at Franco's in Richmond, is now the US distributer for Martegani.
Salvatore Ferragamo -- Like Bruno Magli, Ferragamo doesn't own any of their own production facilities. Also like Bruno Magli, they market shoes of widely varying qualities. The Studio line shoes are cemented and not worth the money they cost. The Lavarazione Originale line shoes are generally Blake-constructed and are often attractive and well-made, if overpriced. The Tramezza line shoes are Goodyear-welted and are very good. Ferragamo has a joint venture with Zegna called Zefer, and Zefer produces all of the Zegna-labelled shoes. I believe, although I am not certain, that Zegna owns the production facilities for these shoes, some of which are very good.
StefanoBi -- I don't know a whole lot about StefanoBi shoes, but I believe that this was Stefano Branchini's original company and that he sold it to LVMH in the 1990s. The StefanoBi factory apparently produces shoes for all of the LVMH companies, including Berluti. The only pair of StefanoBi shoes that I ever saw (square-toe tan wingtip balmorals) were attractive in a flashy, Italian sort of way.
Stefano Branchini -- If I recall correctly, I believe that Sr. Branchini started this company after he sold StefanoBi to LVMH. I have never seen any of these shoes in the flesh, and I really can't comment on the quality of construction. What I can say is that these shoes, to me, represent everything that is wrong with Italian shoemaking today. They're ugly and over-the-top. It's like Sr. Branchini took all that is excessive about Lattanzi shoes and used it as a toned-down model for what he wanted to do.
Artioli -- I believe, although I am not sure, that Artioni shoes are mostly Bologna-constructed. They look to be well-made and are undoubtedly very flexible. I have two primary complaints with Artioli shoes. First is the leather that they tend to use: it's that glove-leather-looking stuff that Italian shoes were known for in the 1980s. Sure, it's soft, but it doesn't wear very well. Secondly, they have succumbed to the witch's shoes trend: their shoes nowadays tend to have elongated, needle-nose snouts that I think are extremely ugly.
Santoni -- Santoni produces many, many different lines of shoes. The Nuvola shoes have natural rubber soles and are decently-constructed and comfortable Blake shoes. The Classic line consists of some Bologna, some Blake, and some Goodyear shoes. The new Bologna models, in particular, are made on a very attractive round-toe last and are extremely flexible. The Fatte a Mano line consists of some Blake and some Goodyear, Norwegian, or Bentivegna shoes. Many of the Fatte a Mano models are, well, ugly, with overly-elongated, pointy, witch's-shoes-looking snouts; but when they're right, they're very, very right. Regardless, while you can complain about the looks of the non-Blake Fatte a Manos, you can't complain about the construction. It's excellent.
Moreschi -- Moreschi is yet another good maker of mid-range Blake-constructed shoes. Much of what they sell is, ah, exuberant. Combinations of blue peccary with blue ostrich leg are to be found. You don't have to buy those. The normal shoes are well-made and reasonably priced. Probably a small step below Gravati in quality of construction, and much below Gravati in flexibility of offerings and receptivity to special orders.
Fratelli Peluso -- I have seen a number of different types of Peluso shoes. The first is a line of Goodyear-welted shoes that look to be well-constructed and fairly-priced. From the website, it appears that these shoes have a gemmed linen feather and are machine-welted just as most English welted shoes. Given the price (under $500 per pair), this is to be expected. Peluso also makes a line of Blake-constructed shoes and yet another line of Blake-constructed shoes sold under the "Peluso for To Boot Adam Derrick" label. Both appear to be relatively well-constructed shoes offered for reasonable prices.
Barrett -- I have never seen a Barrett shoe in person, but their website certainly shows a number of beautiful models. Although the website doesn't specify the construction methods used, it's likely that most of them are Blake or Blake/Rapid constructed, with a few Norwegian models.
Bontoni -- This company has made a recent splash on the US market, getting themselves carried by Louis Boston and Stanley Korshak. The shoes are very much of a piece with a lot of high-end Italian shoes nowadays: a bit clunky, with eye-popping antiquing. If you like that sort of thing, these shoes appear to be well-made versions of the aesthetic. The problem is that they're grossly overpriced. They're Blake/Rapid-constructed, and the channel for the Rapid sole stitching isn't closed. Frankly, the quality of construction is inferior to Gravati or Martegani, in my opinion; and yet the retail price for the calfskin models is nearly $1000 per pair.
Bonora -- Florentine bespoke maker that has branched into RTW. I don't know if these are factory-made shoes of if they are made in Bonora's workshop. Given the prices, I suspect that the former is more likely than the latter. The shoes themselves appear to be mostly Goodyear-welted and staid in their styling.
De Tommaso -- A specialist in handmade Goodyear, Norwegian, and Treccia shoes.
Zegna -- A few years ago, Zegna began a joint venture with Ferragamo called Zefer (oh, the originality!) to produce Zegna-labeled shoes. I suspect, although I do not know for sure, that Zegna actually owns the production facilities for these shoes. In any event, they run the gamut from the very ordinary to the very nice. Most of the lower-priced versions are either cemented or Blake-constructed. The top-of-the-line shoes, however, are Goodyear-welted and very attractive. As with a lot of Zegna's products, they are probably overpriced for what they are, but what they are appears to be excellent quality shoes.