Am I smoking something?! Let's see now, what can I salvage?! OK, it sounds as though the cordwainers are in one shop together, as I noted. I had also heard that it was in the basement, but didn't see this as significant. I read that they were recruited because of their reputations as first-class artisans. Iammatt, what makes you doubt the expertise and talent of the workers Ciro Paone (or perhaps it was Massimo Bizzochi) assembled in his shoe shop? The part about the mountains came from a piece in the New Yorker --"The Best of the Worsted," by Michael Specter--I read quite a while ago and remembered imperfectly (regarding the mountains) about Ciro Paone and Kiton, so was relying on that writer's description of the facility, which he describes (I found a copy of the article, without date, and reread it) as "a garish little palazzo that looks as if it had been lifted from a Hollywood lot and deposited there by cranes." He then goes on to say that "Inside, it is an unusually quiet place--more a shop than a factory, really."
Perhaps their goal of making the best has yet to be realized, but if they are one step up from EG and JLP this early in their shoemaking history (what's it been now, 10-15 years?), they are obviously making damn fine shoes already. Iammatt, when you say that their shoes are not on the level of Lattanzi or Scafora, are you comparing RTW Kiton shoes with bespoke Lattanzi and Scafora, or is this a true apples with apples comparison? Do you think that your rank-ordering of Kiton relative to RTW Lattanzi, say, is universally shared, or are you more oriented to the perhaps greater amount of hand work in the latter and less to the phenomenal antiquing that Kiton produces in the finishing?