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Vass at the Source

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I've just returned from a few days in Budapest and that city is a must for lovers of early 20th century architecture as well as those gluttons, like me, who can feast on food of any description but particular on cream cakes. Coffee shops are a Hungarian passion; even McDonalds has created a "McCafé" section in some branches, selling cream cakes and speciality coffees. But it's not a city for shopping addicts. Although there are lots of shops and a number of shopping mall, which have sprung up in the last years, the selection is somewhat pedestrian. "Designer" means Zara Benetton or Tommy Hilfiger. I could not see any trace of the "Über-brands", this forum is so fond of: no Borrelli, Isaia, Lattanzi; not even Zegna or Edward Green. Shoes are a particular drab lot, no English shoes at all (not even Loake or Barkers) and a few Santonis and Prada representing the multitude of Italian manufacturers. That of course leaves Vass without any competition. It's more of a German than a Hungarian shoe shop with all those signs: Herrenschuhe, Handarbeit or Pferdeleder (men's hoes, hand made or horse leather). The shoes are lovely, they are incredibly well-made and have their very distinctive look which you either love or hate. Leaving for the time being the U-last aside, but that is essentially a showy Italian last, made for (and possibly designed by) the Florentine firm of Ugolino). Vass shoes are solid in make as well as design. I quite like that look, but I would not want to have my entire shoe collection in that style. The U-last is very elongated, in that Italian show-off way so beloved by contemporary shoe designers. But compared with the Lattanzis and Branchinis of this world, the look is somewhat understated, as the uppers themselves are quite plain, no triple rows of contrast hand stitching here. I personally have a problem with Vass' stock lasts. They are made for "strong" feet, if I get the width right (size 41, about 8 American), the shoes are somewhat short in length. I want a size 41 in circumference, but a 42 or 42 ½ in length. But like the cavalry, the U-last rides to the rescue. As the last is longer, I have the length required. (Just like C&J's last 337 which I can take in a 7 ½ while for any other 7 ½ shoe I would have to chop off my toes.) Vass is making for me the Chukka boot Andrew Harris has posted recently, the one with the V-cut in the back (a little bit of whimsicalness like a tattoo on the bum, you know it's there but nobody else does). The boots will be in very dark brown suede and are made over the stock last not a modified bespoke version. One word of warning for all the budding shoe designers like yours truly, who are expecting lots of choice on the cheap. You can't get Vass to make alterations to the design, not even a change in the color of the lining leather. Things are carved in stone. Equally the selection of leathers, although adequate, does not offer anything away from the standard hides. No green cordovan and no bullfrog either. But for the price, one can't complain.
post #2 of 10
Thank you for the report and I am envious of your trip - especially that you managed to find a good fit on a stock last. No American shoe brands in Hungary? I wonder what the general Hungarian shoe shopper feels abouts Vass, and whether they prize Italian style over the old-school designs and construction of Vass.
post #3 of 10
I love Budapest, and went there quite often while I was living in Europe, it's still one of the best values in Europe, although I would tend to agree that shopping for high end brands is not really stellar and local tailors are not wonderful. The spas there are quite great though, and the food is very nice. Not quite the mega designer stores that line the streets of Prague yet though.
post #4 of 10
Why didn't you go for a bespoke last? Did you not want to risk it, or was it cheaper to go for a standard last?
post #5 of 10
Great post Bengal-Stripe, I was wondering what you would end up with How long will it take until delivery to you? Did you get to see the workshop? Originally posted by drizzt3117:
Quote:
Not quite the mega designer stores that line the streets of Prague yet though.
Which street is this? Which mega designers? The only street that had the big designers (Dunhill, Prada, Hermes) did not have mega stores.
post #6 of 10
That is the street by the Jewish quarter I believe (the one with Prada, Hermes, etc...) I believe the store with the higher end menswear is near Muzeum, but that station is pretty big, I wish I could really describe it, but when you come out of Old Town into where the Muzeum station, it's a wide boulevard that goes to the left, and to the north as well. I know that's not a good description but I don't know the street names and they would be unspellable to me anyways.
post #7 of 10
The street is Parizska, which runs from the Old Town Square to the Jewish quarter.
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Why didn't you go for a bespoke last? Did you not want to risk it, or was it cheaper to go for a standard last?
I was already set to be measured; we had agreed that I would collect the completed pair after Christmas to check the fit. Then I saw those particular boots on the side, which were sold already. Nevertheless, I tried them on and they fitted rather nicely; so I settled for the stock last. The price difference been stock last and adjusted last isn't all that big: HUF 110 000 to 130 000 (about € 450 to 535). As they on a stock last we decided to ship them. Vass has five weeks production time for a pair of shoes (regardless of stock or bespoke last). The boots are scheduled to be ready December 15th and, hopefully they will be on my feet before Christmas. Had I been really clever, I would have asked to be measured and to have the measurements kept on file for another order at some later point. But as I'm not that bright, I only thought of it later. No, I did not see the workshop nor did I meet Mr Vass.
post #9 of 10
Quote:
The street is Parizska, which runs from the Old Town Square to the Jewish quarter.
Yes Parizska. Again I don't remember the "megastores" and I was there at the start of the year. On one end is the old town square (with incredible numbers of tourist trap stalls and a great number of painted cows), and the on the other end is the Charles river. All the stores on either side were small boutiques... I remember most clearly the Loius Vuitton cow.
post #10 of 10
There is also a lot of interesting pre-war architecture and design in Prague, for those who are interested in more than just the clothes of the 1920s and 30s. It was a wealthy, cosmopolitan city before WWII and the communist revolution.
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