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Italian/british/american everyday shoes

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
After reading Dr. Bresch's experiences with Alfred Sargent on the Ask Andy forum, and perusing most of the recent shoe posts on this forum, what is everyone's consensus on shoes that are outside the 600+ RRP luxury mark.  Don't get me wrong, I love Edward Green, Lobb, Lattanzi, Santoni handmades, Weston, etc., but what does everyone wear for trolling around on a daily basis? Secondly, aside from Santoni and Lattanzi, how do people feel about second-tier Italian made shoes?  Specifically, the Ferragamo Lavarzione Orginale and Tramezza, Bruno Magli handmades and Platinum, Tod's leather soled products, Lidfort, Stefano Brancini, Moreshci, and Gravati.  I purposely excluded Mantellassi since they tend to approach the 6-700 mark.  Oh, and I'd prefer this post avoid exotic hides since I still believe a minority of men can actually pull a croc loafer off. In terms of American shoes, I own one pair by Allen Edmonds (Hancock) and rubber-soled brown blucher by Alden.  I use the AE for everyday wear, while the Aldens are for inclement weather.  Both are nice shoes, but pretty boring IMHO.  Nice shoes, but I'd rather avoid the discussing the merits of American shoes ad naseum. [edit] I am most interested in hearing remarks about question #2, since there seems to be about as many Italian manufacturers as the rest of the shoe world combined.
post #2 of 14
Well, I do wear EG a lot to troll around in. Seriously, though, I'm a big fan of Gravati. I've seen nicer shoes, but not very many that retail for $400 or $430. That, and they easily have the most flexible special order program I've ever seen. Great shoes and highly recommended.
post #3 of 14
It's very difficult, even unfair, to rate Italian manufacturers in terms of quality on a scale. You have to remember something about how the shoes you see wind up on store shelves. The American and British shoe industries are based on few traditional patterns being massed produced at a given price point. The Italian industry evolved differently. Most factories/brands (much work is shared by tradition) have a diverse offering of patterns and materials to accomodate many uses. Where the Brits and the Americans offer a shoe that fits 5 uses, the Italians are quick to offer 5 shoes to fit those 5 needs. Also, the UK and Amer. manufacturers sell what they make while the Italians ask 'what do you need?'. It's a different philosophy. Most Italian factories have a wide repertoire of offerings and are accustomed to working with many different types of customers, from the Far East, to the US, to Europe to Africa, you will see many types of footwear; while the Allen Edmonds available in Topeka is the same Allen Edmonds I saw in Lucca a couple of months ago. Now, what the Italians sell is much more what the Buyer of a particular store want's to buy, so you don't always see a factories' strength. More than once, I've bought a Moreschi shoe that would sell much better in Morrocco then Richmond. The best example of this that I can think of is Santoni. Santoni's specialty was always Goodyear Welted and Norwegian shoes whose main distribution was Northern Europe and the Far East. A salesman here (in the US) wanted to build his own business and went to Italy numerous times to find a suitable partner. Mr. B. had his own vision of what he wanted to sell here and Santoni agreed to go into business with him. What were the original Santoni shoes distributed here? Mocassins. With somewhat Native American motifs. The traditional Santoni shoes you see here lately, and referenced on this forum, were only recent additions to Santoni's US stocklist. And that was only after Mr. B. opened a store in NYC and needed a more well rounded inventory. When I am in Italy, and stop by Santoni, mocassins are no where in sight ('those are for the Americans'). So my point is, Italian shoes really need to be judged on a shoe by shoe basis, not by manufacturer. All that being said, whenever an Italian brand develops here and adds a store in NY, for 'marketing' reasons, and starts to appear in magazine ads, you can bet the prices are reflecting that. So, if the question is quality per price point, Santoni makes great shoes - and have become overpriced; Bruno Magli makes great shoes - and are overpriced; Tods has some great shoes - and are overpriced; Ferragamo has some great shoes (notice I did not say makes) - and are extremely overpriced. Gravati, on the otherhand, is one of the best deals out there in terms of quality for the money. R.Martegani is another brand that, although not available here in a large way, is a great brand for the money. DiTommasso, Speroni, Borgioli, and many others offer fantastic quality for the money.
post #4 of 14
I am not sure how you arrived at your price, because even C&J handgrades are not more than 498 dollars from Pedwear, delivered, and that is for the most expensive models. The most expensive AS's are 303 dollars delivered. These are for the top of the line. My AS country shoe, on the other hand, cost 170 dollars. The C&J Onslow costs 385 delivered, the Grasmere, 347 delivered. These appear to be comparable to the Berwick (weather-resistant).
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
RIDER- Thanks for the post.  I was hoping someone would elaborate on the differences between Italian and English shoe manufacturing philosophies. Jcusey: I agree with your assessment of Gravati. Dr. Bresch- I didn't include handgrade in the original listing.  Sorry about the AS confusion.  I was hoping that someone would post a similar "value" brand that you found with Alfred Sargent. I realize that English shoes are a better dollar for dollar at RRP, but considering the tremendous volume and variety of Italian shoes offered in the American market, I can almost ALWAYS find Italian shoes at substantial discount.  The same cannot be said of most English brands. Keep the posts coming... I actually would love to hear from the NON-shoe afficionados since the undergraduate/graduate student, civil service worker, and teacher probably have clothing budgets similar to my own.
post #6 of 14
How about hearing from a shoe afficionado who works with a the budget of a civil service worker? Many times I am hesitant to post when there is a shoe topic because of the knowledge of forum members. There is rarely anything I might possibly add. However when the question touches on shoes for someone on a budget, then I can perhaps add my perspective. I work at a job that pays an ok salary, but nothing near what I would need to make to buy the shoes, clothing etc. that I would like to have so I have to go based on a budget. I've evolved over the years on shoes I have worn for the office. I work where I can dress a bit more casually, although I must wear a tie everyday. What has and hasn't worked for me: H.S. Trask. Used to work for me, but since moving operations to Brazil, I have found the shoes I've worn (Anaconda) to not be as comfortable. Allen Edmonds. I've worn the Prescott, Canton, Canfield, and some other dress casuals that have worked well for me. Comfortable even with my orthotics. Not a bad deal at all if you can get them on sale, typically at no more than $125 a pair at an AE outlet (e-mail me if you want more information on that). Gravati. I have a pair of split-toe shoes from Gravati with their Beverly (I believe is the name) sole, which is a leather sole with a rubber insert in the fore foot. These shoes have been every bit as comfortable as the Edmonds shoes, but cost more. Gravatis can be had for under $200. Church's. Comfortable, but not good for walking for me. Footjoy. Used their dress casuals with no success. Could be a fitting problem, but found them to be uncomfortable. Some swear by footjoy. My bottom line for someone on a shoe budget: Better to buy one or two GOOD (I mean quality and comfortable) pairs of shoes than spending less and getting poor quality that frequently translates into uncomfortable. There is ALWAYS a place to get a good deal on an Allen Edmonds shoe if you go that route. Trask, Alden, others can be a bit more difficult. Again, if you're interested, e-mail me and I can give you more information on where to pick up AE at a discount.
post #7 of 14
Allen Edmonds hurt my feet so I don't wear them anymore. Don't own any Aldens yet, but tried on a pair when Adam Knott was still in Carmel, and they seemed very comfortable. They're on my purchase list. Have an unstylish but very functional pair of J&M- extremely comfortable. Have a pair of Terra Planas that aren't much to look at either, but are almost as comfortable as my New Balance running shoes. And were right out of the box. And I have a pair of Gravatis, purchased from our own Discostu about a year ago, that look great and feel comfortable. Broke them in walking 6 hours around Manhattan on a business trip.
post #8 of 14
I mostly wear Paraboot shoes for everyday wear. You can get great deals on them on ebay.
post #9 of 14
I do quite a bit of walking and I've found that Mephisto shoes are quite comfortable. They're not very stylish but if that's not a factor then head on over to the nearest Mephisto dealer and try some on. The MSRP is high for proletarians like me at >= $300 however if you know what size you are, ebay can make the price much more sensible for you. Hope this helps, Tom
post #10 of 14
Okay, I'll bite. Where can one purchase Gravatis here in the US? Preferably in Washington, DC or Boston? M#4
post #11 of 14
Okay, I'll bite. Where can one purchase Gravatis here in the US? Preferably in Washington, DC or Boston?
Can't help you with either of those two cities, although you may want to e-mail Gravati -- they'll certainly have a list of their US retailers. In Richmond, however, there's Franco's. I particularly like the cognac wholecut and the woven shoe. In Houston, there's Harold's in the Heights (the photography is a little bit too dark, but there are some great shoes there), M. Penner, and Norton Ditto. In New York, there's Bergdorf Goodman. I've been told that Wilkes Bashford in San Francisco used to carry Gravati, but I don't know if this is still the case.
post #12 of 14
I mostly wear Paraboot shoes for everyday wear. You can get great deals on them on ebay.
Take a look at Sierra Trading right now, which must have just gotten in a shipment.
post #13 of 14
There are at least 20 stores that carry Gravati nationwide. E-mail me if you'd like a list.
post #14 of 14
I've been told that Wilkes Bashford in San Francisco used to carry Gravati
They do a huge Gravati business - the Wilson & Dean shoes are Gravati.
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