This is a happy arrangement for those of us who have found the Majorca-based Carmina. While the Carmina brand itself was created in 1997 by Jose Albaladejo, the shoe-making roots of the Albaladejo family date back to a workshop in Majorca opened in 1866. Production today follows in this tradition. The Carmina website gives a cool demonstration of the steps involved in making a Carmina shoe.
Carmina was the first European shoemaker to get access to Horween shell, the lion's share of whose output goes to Alden. I first found Carmina a year ago in my search for a cordovan shoe on a more aggressive last than the typical Alden gunboat. I ended up getting some wingtips on the Rain last, which are in heavy rotation during the colder months. The stitching, brogueing, punching on the toe cap, and leather matching are all excellent. They were one of the two pairs of shoes I brought to Pitti.
The secret has now gotten out. The SF Carmina thread is now pushing 250 pages. Carmina has opened its own webstore. Carmina shoes can also be bought through Gentlemen's Footwear, Epaulet, Skoaktiebolaget and The Armoury. If you're interested in something you don't see ready-made anywhere, you can even contact Carmina directly and they may be able to do it MTO.
Carmina really gives you a surprising amount of style, craftsmanship, and novelty for its price point, which starts around 300 euros for calf and goes up to around 500 for shell. It would be difficult to find a Goodyear-welted, channeled-sole shoe for a lower price. If you're also looking for sleek lasts like the Carmina Rain and Simpson lasts (if you favor more traditional lasts, the Forest and Robert are for you), plus access to Horween shell cordovan in many colors, you're looking at Carmina and just Carmina. As an added bonus, you can pick up some shoes for your mom or ladyfriend while you're at it, as Carmina also sells well-made women's shoes.
Just a couple of days ago I received my second Carmina purchase, which I had in my head ever since I saw it at Pitti. It's a black suede wholecut on the Simpson last, a perfect casual evening shoe (if you think the slip-on is even better, well, I won't argue). The cordovan boot pictured below likely isn't far behind.
Black suede wholecut on the Simpson last.
Closeup on this almost velvet-like suede.
The suede slip-on.
A very different kind of suede shoe.
A wingtip in shell.
To get a nice shine on shell, Betty Albaladejo of Carmina recommends rubbing the shoe with anything hard, even a shoe tree wrapped in a shoe bag, as here.
The next shoe on my list.
Sole detail on the cordovan boot.