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The Berluti shoe thread

post #1 of 263
Thread Starter 
From the 'paying full retail' thread:

Quote:
Perhaps the Berluti discussion should be broken out into its own thread. I have my own thoughts on this.

Preach to us RJman!
post #2 of 263
I have been a customer since 1998. I believe their shoes are very well made as there are a couple of pairs I have worn quite long and they are holding up beautifully. I have never done their bespoke line but I have seen many up close and the results are as good as any bespoke maker I am familiar with...exception being some of the Japanese artisans I have not visited.

I respect Olga because I believe she pushes the envelope with design. I think sometimes she clearly goes too far but I think innovators do that. Here classic shoe designs are quite amazing however. There's also no doubt that Olga was and is a leader in shoe antiquing and unique finishes as well as interesting leather treatments like the "scalpel" shoes and wallets.

I honestly get more comments of praise on these shoes than anything else in my shoe collection.
post #3 of 263
Berluti's are made in Italy, not France?
post #4 of 263
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris "Italia"
Berluti's are made in Italy, not France?
Chris:

You don't add an apostrophe to a plural proper noun. It's not a possessive.

I don't mean to single you out -- it's a common mistake, but it drives me nuts.

To the best of my knowledge, the Berluti ready-to-wear line is made in Ferrara by Stefanobi. All of it. There are also rumors, corroborated by several members whom I trust, that Berlutis are actually now being made in China and finished in Italy solely in order to retain their "Made in Italy" designation. I cannot verify this, and it's been denied by another fellow I spoke to who told me he'd visited the Italian factory where Berluti RTW is still made . Berluti can be rather oblique about their place of manufacture, quality, and other things, and I wouldn't expect the straight truth from their store manager. They do belong to LVMH , after all. Most of the line is Blake stitched, which is a machine stitching process which makes it easier to produce shoes with a slim profile and slim soles, at some cost to durability, or at least to water resistance. That said, a "field test" by one of the French shoe magazines found a Berluti Piercing shoe to be durable enough after a month or two of prolonged wear, with the valuable observation that Berlutis are designed to be like Ferraris (no pun intended) or other expensive sport cars and to be treated delicately. Berluti's old web site stated that certain of their RTW shoes were Goodyear, Africa or Ferrarese welted. I am not sure what the latter two welt processes are, and they appear to be names unique to Berluti. For a hefty surcharge many of the Berluti RTW shoes are available in a Norwegian welt, which gives them that gunboat outrigger look beloved of some Italian shoemakers.

One issue with Berluti RTW is the use of the so-called Venezia leather. According to Berluti PR, this leather allows for the beautiful patination available on Berluti shoes. Unfortunately, this leather is also quite thin and delicate, which means that Berluti shoes with Venezia leather in them (most, though not all Berluti RTW) can look very wrinkled after some wear. This is the case with certain Berluti shoes on certain Japanese websites, and, forgive my writing it, appears to be the case with the Berluti shoes whose pictures Artisan Fan put up.

I own one pair of Berluti. They are the Tibetas, a thick wholecut in grained leather on a rubber sole. They are very comfortable and appear to be aging well. However, an issue in the manufacture of their eyelets caused them to abrade and snap shoelaces frequently. The Berluti shop in St Germain des Pres was very nice about giving me free shoelaces, and finally took the shoes back, refinished the eyelets for free, and I have not had problems with the laces since. Their customer service in France is quite good, albeit one should not have such problems with shoes that cost as much as Berlutis do.

Another issue with Berluti is that each style of shoe only comes in one width. Most are rather narrow. Thus, it may not be possible to get a proper fit in the Berluti style one wants.

One poster once advised that certain Berluti so-called bespoke models are just "special order[s] from Ferrara" made to RTW standard. My guess, my uninformed guess, is that the styles in the Olga II collection ("Guerrier", etc.), which only available via "sur mesure", may be among them. I may be wrong.

Berluti does, however, offer true bespoke. The true bespoke is allegedly made in Paris in workshops on the rue du Louvre. I have not seen Berluti bespoke in person. However, T4phage has a pair and has told me that they are incredible. Price is competitive with Corthay and the rest of the Paris bespoke crew -- 3000 euros or so. When I was curious about getting bespoke shoes in Paris, the Berluti St Germain team told me that following the first bespoke shoe purchase, subsequent pairs would be cheaper as the last would have been made. They also told me they would have their Maitre Bottier contact me once he returned to Paris. That was six months ago, and I haven't waited.

The bespoke shoe world in Paris is a small one, and it's quickly apparent that everyone knows everyone else. As in London, bespoke houses use outworkers to work on shoes, so that at least one bottier I know of handles work for Berluti, Lobb and Aubercy due to his contacts. It is clear that bespoke is a tiny part of Berluti's business. Indeed, their website no longer even mentions it.

Olga is a visionary designer. I see shoes made by all sorts of makers from Allen Edmonds to Weston to knock-offs in cheap shoe stores aping the Berluti Tatoues (wholecuts with brogue patterns). Ironically, that design was the subject of an IP suit by Berluti against Gucci group, a proxy war between LVMH and PPR in which Berluti argued a Gucci shoe copied its design. Berluti won. The Berluti patina has been copied as well. It's put on with chemicals as well as polish, as best I can gather. However, many shoe shops in Paris will give your shoes antique jobs; Shipton & Heneage and Crockett & Jones, among others, offer such services. Many cheaper shoe stores sell heavily patinated shoes as well. For every incredible design, such as the Tatoues, the Piercings, the Tatouages, there are horrible travesties such as the Indio, the entire Dandy Sauvage line, and the Rapieces Reprises. Most recently the second floor of Berluti's flagship on the rue Marbeuf was renovated by a fellow named Carlo Rampazzi who makes Liberace look dour. Bad or good, these design choices keep Berluti's profile high. I do believe that Berluti has been very influential in recent shoe design. Very interesting to note how Alan Flusser described them twenty years ago in Making the Man -- a conservative brand with conservative designs favored by older men.

Continuing the visionary metaphor, Olga is good PR for the company as she utters statements worthy of the Pythia. I don't believe that my shoes were tanned by moonlight; and while it was good fun to use a bit of red wine in polishing them I don't believe champagne or any other wine or liquor has a particularly helpful result in polishing them. Olga got that from Beau Brummell. Ian Kelly suggests in his biography of the Beau that Brummell's statements about polishing shoes with champagne were made for effect, and Olga appears to have followed his example. Until several years ago, Berluti's PR was the irrepressible Yann Debelle de Montby, who has since joined Dunhill as its dandy about town.

LVMH has a stated objective of 50 Berluti boutiques worldwide and a Berluti line expanded to include clothing. This no doubt will dilute the brand further. They gain from the high visibility and mythos surrounding Berluti to keep raising its prices and to keep puffing its quality. Barneys, for one, called Berluti the "finest handmade shoes", and Berlutis are not, really, handmade. Berluti's pricing in the US also indicates that they are aiming at the Lattanzi market. They benefit from the information deficit out there.

Berlutis are decent shoes, but overpriced by a factor of at least two in RTW.

Apologies for the disjointed nature of this post. I just wanted to get all this out. I have stated where relevant the parts of my knowledge that are not firsthand.
post #5 of 263
Thank you for that, RJ.

You've made me reconsider the Berluti on the "to-purchase" list..
post #6 of 263
Quote:
Originally Posted by RJman
Chris:

Berluti's old web site stated that certain of their RTW shoes were Goodyear, Africa or Ferrarese welted. I am not sure what the latter two welt processes are, and they appear to be names unique to Berluti..


Thanks for all the info, RJman.

I've never heard of an Africa or Ferrarse welted shoe. Do you know where there might be any pictures of such?
post #7 of 263
Quote:
Originally Posted by RJman
Chris:

You don't add an apostrophe to a plural proper noun. It's not a possessive.

I don't mean to single you out -- it's a common mistake, but it drives me nuts.

To the best of my knowledge, the Berluti ready-to-wear line is made in Ferrara by Stefanobi. All of it. There are also rumors, corroborated by several members whom I trust, that Berlutis are actually now being made in China and finished in Italy solely in order to retain their "Made in Italy" designation. I cannot verify this, and it's been denied by another fellow I spoke to who told me he'd visited the Italian factory where Berluti RTW is still made . Berluti can be rather oblique about their place of manufacture, quality, and other things, and I wouldn't expect the straight truth from their store manager. They do belong to LVMH , after all. Most of the line is Blake stitched, which is a machine stitching process which makes it easier to produce shoes with a slim profile and slim soles, at some cost to durability, or at least to water resistance. That said, a "field test" by one of the French shoe magazines found a Berluti Piercing shoe to be durable enough after a month or two of prolonged wear, with the valuable observation that Berlutis are designed to be like Ferraris (no pun intended) or other expensive sport cars and to be treated delicately. Berluti's old web site stated that certain of their RTW shoes were Goodyear, Africa or Ferrarese welted. I am not sure what the latter two welt processes are, and they appear to be names unique to Berluti. For a hefty surcharge many of the Berluti RTW shoes are available in a Norwegian welt, which gives them that gunboat outrigger look beloved of some Italian shoemakers.

One issue with Berluti RTW is the use of the so-called Venezia leather. According to Berluti PR, this leather allows for the beautiful patination available on Berluti shoes. Unfortunately, this leather is also quite thin and delicate, which means that Berluti shoes with Venezia leather in them (most, though not all Berluti RTW) can look very wrinkled after some wear. This is the case with certain Berluti shoes on certain Japanese websites, and, forgive my writing it, appears to be the case with the Berluti shoes whose pictures Artisan Fan put up.

I own one pair of Berluti. They are the Tibetas, a thick wholecut in grained leather on a rubber sole. They are very comfortable and appear to be aging well. However, an issue in the manufacture of their eyelets caused them to abrade and snap shoelaces frequently. The Berluti shop in St Germain des Pres was very nice about giving me free shoelaces, and finally took the shoes back, refinished the eyelets for free, and I have not had problems with the laces since. Their customer service in France is quite good, albeit one should not have such problems with shoes that cost as much as Berlutis do.

Another issue with Berluti is that each style of shoe only comes in one width. Most are rather narrow. Thus, it may not be possible to get a proper fit in the Berluti style one wants.

One poster once advised that certain Berluti so-called bespoke models are just "special order[s] from Ferrara" made to RTW standard. My guess, my uninformed guess, is that the styles in the Olga II collection ("Guerrier", etc.), which only available via "sur mesure", may be among them. I may be wrong.

Berluti does, however, offer true bespoke. The true bespoke is allegedly made in Paris in workshops on the rue du Louvre. I have not seen Berluti bespoke in person. However, T4phage has a pair and has told me that they are incredible. Price is competitive with Corthay and the rest of the Paris bespoke crew -- 3000 euros or so. When I was curious about getting bespoke shoes in Paris, the Berluti St Germain team told me that following the first bespoke shoe purchase, subsequent pairs would be cheaper as the last would have been made. They also told me they would have their Maitre Bottier contact me once he returned to Paris. That was six months ago, and I haven't waited.

The bespoke shoe world in Paris is a small one, and it's quickly apparent that everyone knows everyone else. As in London, bespoke houses use outworkers to work on shoes, so that at least one bottier I know of handles work for Berluti, Lobb and Aubercy due to his contacts. It is clear that bespoke is a tiny part of Berluti's business. Indeed, their website no longer even mentions it.

Olga is a visionary designer. I see shoes made by all sorts of makers from Allen Edmonds to Weston to knock-offs in cheap shoe stores aping the Berluti Tatoues (wholecuts with brogue patterns). Ironically, that design was the subject of an IP suit by Berluti against Gucci group, a proxy war between LVMH and PPR in which Berluti argued a Gucci shoe copied its design. Berluti won. The Berluti patina has been copied as well. It's put on with chemicals as well as polish, as best I can gather. However, many shoe shops in Paris will give your shoes antique jobs; Shipton & Heneage and Crockett & Jones, among others, offer such services. Many cheaper shoe stores sell heavily patinated shoes as well. For every incredible design, such as the Tatoues, the Piercings, the Tatouages, there are horrible travesties such as the Indio, the entire Dandy Sauvage line, and the Rapieces Reprises. Most recently the second floor of Berluti's flagship on the rue Marbeuf was renovated by a fellow named Carlo Rampazzi who makes Liberace look dour. Bad or good, these design choices keep Berluti's profile high. I do believe that Berluti has been very influential in recent shoe design. Very interesting to note how Alan Flusser described them twenty years ago in Making the Man -- a conservative brand with conservative designs favored by older men.

Continuing the visionary metaphor, Olga is good PR for the company as she utters statements worthy of the Pythia. I don't believe that my shoes were tanned by moonlight; and while it was good fun to use a bit of red wine in polishing them I don't believe champagne or any other wine or liquor has a particularly helpful result in polishing them. Olga got that from Beau Brummell. Ian Kelly suggests in his biography of the Beau that Brummell's statements about polishing shoes with champagne were made for effect, and Olga appears to have followed his example. Until several years ago, Berluti's PR was the irrepressible Yann Debelle de Montby, who has since joined Dunhill as its dandy about town.

LVMH has a stated objective of 50 Berluti boutiques worldwide and a Berluti line expanded to include clothing. This no doubt will dilute the brand further. They gain from the high visibility and mythos surrounding Berluti to keep raising its prices and to keep puffing its quality. Barneys, for one, called Berluti the "finest handmade shoes", and Berlutis are not, really, handmade. Berluti's pricing in the US also indicates that they are aiming at the Lattanzi market. They benefit from the information deficit out there.

Berlutis are decent shoes, but overpriced by a factor of at least two in RTW.

Apologies for the disjointed nature of this post. I just wanted to get all this out. I have stated where relevant the parts of my knowledge that are not firsthand.
Excellent and fascinating post RJman.
post #8 of 263
Quote:
Originally Posted by RJman
Another issue with Berluti is that each style of shoe only comes in one width. Most are rather narrow. Thus, it may not be possible to get a proper fit in the Berluti style one wants. .

-Thank you for the very informative post.
Fit:
This was a primary problem for me. For as much as they charge, one would opine Berluti would have multiple widths. I like their wholecut immensely, hence the purchase, from a stylisic viewpoint, but even going up a 1/2 size, adding a shoe tongue pad, to prevent slippage, the laces still spread way too much thereby making it unacceptable for proper fit. A wider width would have allowed precise fit. I'm much more discerning now about wholecut fit.

Durability:
The leather is very thin and delicate. It does crease and even with proper shoe trees, the creasing is ever present. A polar opposite of the shoes I own are Vass leathers which are the most durable I've seen and with shoe trees creasing is imperceptible. Also, I unfortunately got caught in light rain with my Berluti, even after previous polishing, water spots can be perceptibly permanent even after trees and drying out after a week, and this was very light precipitation. The most delicate leathers I've even seen or experienced.

I would put Berluti on par how you would treat a suede shoe, very carefully, out of the elements, inside most of the time, almost like a slipper if you want them to last.

Laces:
I had the same exact shoe lace problem and had to get new laces within 3 to 4 months. It's as if a scissor cutting thru the laces over time.

Style:
Second to none with the classic wholecut.

These are just my impressions, feel free to disagree.

Would I purchase them again?
Yes, I would purchase the bespoke wholecuts in classic design (no duckbills)

They make for a smart purchase for special occassions, but not a work shoe for me, nor a workhorse for heavy rotation.
post #9 of 263
Quote:
Originally Posted by RJman
Most recently the second floor of Berluti's flagship on the rue Marbeuf was renovated by a fellow named Carlo Rampazzi who makes Liberace look dour.
Oh, that's what he does.
I've seen a feature on him and his shoes in LAST Vol.2 (wearing metallic golden alligator pants).

So I googled a bit. Here is his homepage:
http://www.crandsv.com/
post #10 of 263
Quote:
Originally Posted by bengal-stripe
Oh, that's what he does.
I've seen a feature on him and his shoes in LAST Vol.2 (wearing metallic golden alligator pants).

So I googled a bit. Here is his homepage:
http://www.crandsv.com/
Looks a bit tacky, and not in that Tony Duquette kind of way.
post #11 of 263
Quote:
Originally Posted by LabelKing
Looks a bit tacky, and not in that Tony Duquette kind of way.
Thought it would be right up your jolly old strasse...
post #12 of 263
Quote:
Originally Posted by RJman
Thought it would be right up your jolly old strasse...
Helena Rubinstein's color is more up my rue:



Chic.
post #13 of 263
Not that Fatima Mansions album cover?
post #14 of 263
Quote:
Originally Posted by RJman
Not that Fatima Mansions album cover?
It's not as posh.
post #15 of 263
Quote:
Originally Posted by LabelKing
It's not as posh.
Stop derailing this thread, it's about Berluti. Anyway, isn't it a school night for you?

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