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I can't stand italian clothing

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Horace, Oct 14, 2004.

  1. Manton

    Manton Well-Known Member

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  2. jcusey

    jcusey Well-Known Member

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    Just look at the shoes. Let's take a simple cap-toe bal. Here's Alden's version: [​IMG] There's nothing wrong with this shoe. It's perfectly correct. It's not the most elegant shoe in the world -- notice the shape of the toe, for example. If you examine the shoe up close (and you can't see it from this picture -- you have to look at an actual shoe), you'll notice that the stitching on the welt, the welt strip itself, and the heel of the shoe are a little ragged and a little crude. Then there's the fact that the soles are stitched aloft. Here's a Santoni Classico version: [​IMG] This isn't the best picture in the world -- you can't see all of the details of the shoe. It's also a cap-toe shoe (this time with a discreet toe medallion). The seams on the toe cap and the quarters are reversed, so no stitching is visible on the uppers of the shoe. Compared to the Alden shoe, the detailing of the sole and the heel are smooth and elegant. The soles themselves are channelled. The shoe itself is light and flexible where the Alden shoe is heavy and stiff. The leather is clearer and more lustrous. The Alden shoe is correct; the Santoni shoe is beautiful.
     
  3. Horace

    Horace Well-Known Member

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    Saville v. Neopolitan. Â True, in a sense, it seems to me. Â But actually for the relative merits of both (and I think the superiority of the English garment), an Italian has made my argument for me, better than I ever could have. Â See Spalla's post on the tale of two jackets on London Lounge
    I don't believe Spalla ever said that the English jacket was superior. Â Remember, he was also comparing a totally handmade Saville jacket to a partially handmade Neapolitan. If you ask him to compare his favorite neapolitan to his favorite English, I don't think he can choose a "better" one. Â It all depends on usage and image. Â When I compare my bespoke Hunstman to my Neapolitan or Roman, invariably I prefer my Italians.
    Again, where did it mention the the English was of "superior quality" as compared to the Neapolitan? Â Just different, again see my point above when comparing a totally handmade v.s partially machine made. Â Also, he was using very descriptive words. Â Looking at the De Sica, it does not scream "peacock". Â What it does say is "incredibly elegant", "fits beautifully", and "looks wonderful and comfortable". I consider myself fit, and when I did try on a "sack suit" - not particularly elegant, not nice, nothing great.... Â [​IMG]
    If that is the case, Spalla personally likes many Italian tailors. Â Then you should too if that is all that you require.
    I think there must be miscommunication here; perhaps due to my English, or the conversational, fragmented syntax. a). Your first citation of my words do not state that S. said one was superior. b). Your second citation of my words do not state that S. said the British jacket was superior. Spalla notes the qualities of the jackets. I attribute to those qualities a value (in this case, superiority). I say it has superior qualities (or "qualities which are superior" is perhaps what I should've written to make it clearer to you). Those qualities, by the by, are subtley and restraint.
     
  4. Horace

    Horace Well-Known Member

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    (Horace @ 18 Oct. 2004, 03:15) My dear Manton, concerning your comments and query on "handwork". Â It would be interesting to consider, vis a vis the comments of someone like Veblen (who wrote _Theory of the Leisure Class) and the comments here on handwork. Now, it may very well be in some (many?) cases handwork increases the "use value" or "performance value" of an article: Â for instance, in the case of the chest or shoulder of a jacket, the structure, fit and whatnot may be inhanced by the handwork. Â (Buttonholes are another matter -- I've had bespoke from Saville Row and from the USA, and from HK -- and I actually prefer machine-made buttonholes). But in what cases is there no difference between the two in "performance value", which I separate from "aesthetic value" -- though I can foresee an argument of why others may not. In essence, Veblen's argument was that certain goods of manufacture (and recall he was writing in what? Â 1902?), there was no demonstrable difference in "use value" (a term from Marx) between the two. Â Now, I don't share his critique of society, but I wonder how often the proponents of "more handwork = better item" is more a matter of feeling good about the fact that someone's direct labor (unmediated by technology (e.g. sewing machine) -- though of course, even the needle may be considered technology) went into item. In short, does it necessarily follow in all manufacturing steps that more handwork in a shoe means a better shoe? Â Or could the reverse be argued?
    First, remember that I was defending English shoes against the claims of Italian shoes, so in that sense (but probably in no other) I am your "ally" in this debate. Second, handwork done well does increase the comfort and durabilty of a shoe, in my opinion. Â Bespoke shoes can last much longer than partially machine-made shoes. Â This is partly (I think) because the hand stitiching is better able to stand up to the horrid stresses of walking. Â Also, handmade shoes are much lighter and more flexible, without losing any strength, than their machine-made couterparts, and this too increases their comfort. As to aesthetics: I agree with Flusser here. Â The foot is a particularly "ugainly" (I think that's the word he uses) part of the anatomy. Â The aim of footwear should be to minimize that ungainliness. Â This is done by creating shoes that conform as closely as possible to the foot's actual shape, since any exccess will only make the damned ungainly things look bigger. Â From my perspective (12 D) that is not desireable. Â Handmade shoes can be made to look much smaller than machine-made shoes. Â Take the sole: with a handmade shoe, it is possible to cut the sole very close to the upper, and bevel the instep in such a way that it is invisible. What I object to about the Italians (or many of their products) is that they go to the trouble of producing handmade shoes that are as big as gunboats. Â What's the point? Â A prime virtue of a handmade shoe is that it looks small and elegant.
    Well, my Dear Manton, I certainly wasn't looking for an "ally", but I'll take it when I can. As for the foot: if as Flusser opines the foot is ungainly, then why replicate it in a shoe. Why not make it a square box? I may agree with his conclusion, but the way he gets there leaves something to be desired. I don't think much about feet. I don't really think the gunboat is a bad choice. I have some Alden's in the Barrie last, full brogue that I think look rather swell.
     
  5. Horace

    Horace Well-Known Member

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    (Horace @ 18 Oct. 2004, 05:03) I know you've written quite well in the past on shoe making techniques. Â I would appreciate it if you could point me toward a thread or discourse here, on each manner in which said shoes are demonstrably superior to Alden. Â I'd really like to know.
    Just look at the shoes. Let's take a simple cap-toe bal. Here's Alden's version: [​IMG] There's nothing wrong with this shoe. It's perfectly correct. It's not the most elegant shoe in the world -- notice the shape of the toe, for example. If you examine the shoe up close (and you can't see it from this picture -- you have to look at an actual shoe), you'll notice that the stitching on the welt, the welt strip itself, and the heel of the shoe are a little ragged and a little crude. Then there's the fact that the soles are stitched aloft. Here's a Santoni Classico version: [​IMG] This isn't the best picture in the world -- you can't see all of the details of the shoe. It's also a cap-toe shoe (this time with a discreet toe medallion). The seams on the toe cap and the quarters are reversed, so no stitching is visible on the uppers of the shoe. Compared to the Alden shoe, the detailing of the sole and the heel are smooth and elegant. The soles themselves are channelled. The shoe itself is light and flexible where the Alden shoe is heavy and stiff. The leather is clearer and more lustrous. The Alden shoe is correct; the Santoni shoe is beautiful.
    Thanks. I think you picked the most banal Alden model possible. I don't see those differences in the pictures, but I take your point concerning different means of manufacture. I could perhaps quibble with a few of your adjectives and ask you to explicate further... However, I happen to regard to Alden toe, rounded though it may be as far more tasteful and good-looking than the other shoe.
     
  6. Giona Granata

    Giona Granata Well-Known Member

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    Horace, you can say that sack suit/american trad is good, is better, etc.. I will not argue about that; I just say that it's not gone International; and there's a reason; it's not part of an international classic tradition; british cut and italian cut have gone International. Hitchcock: look how is dressing Cary Grant. Look Bond's films ('60). Also I agree about an "understatement style"; many italian suits are part of this style; british style is father to this, not american: look at american flashy jackets, colors, and combinations; I think american style is associated to "comfort", a long distance from "understatement". You say: "(Buttonholes are another matter -- I've had bespoke from Saville Row and from the USA, and from HK -- and I actually prefer machine-made buttonholes).". This closes our discussion. [​IMG] PS I just bought that Alden shoes: they're beatyful.
     
  7. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member

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    That's a question of aesthetics. For a more casual shoe, to be worn with flannel, moleskin, or corduroy pants (or even jeans) I prefer something significantly heftier looking.
     
  8. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Well-Known Member

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    I have to agree that Alden makes incredible shoes. Here, I shall compare my Alden cap toes to my new Grenson cap toes, which I recently antiqued using a similar method to that used by Montecristo.

    The Grenson's styling is much sleeker -- better antiquing out of the box, easier to antique with polish on one's own, more chiseled toe, less clunky sole, channelled sole, narrower waist.

    But the Alden leather in terms of feel, softness, thickness, etc. just beats the Grenson Masterpiece. Period. The Aldens will, I think, last longer, stay softer longer, etc. (though both shoes will last an incredibly long time if taken care of).

    Now, one may dislike the styling of Alden -- I did at first. But I say put them on your feet an wear them with a melange trouser or suit, or flannel, or tweed. I am betting that their shape and simplicity will actually look quite dashing. Sounds strange but true. When you are wearing a $3000, sometimes wearing a less flashy shoe can be just what the doctor ordered. [The exact opposite of non-flashy IMO -- Kiton shoes.]
     
  9. Manton

    Manton Well-Known Member

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  10. Manton

    Manton Well-Known Member

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  11. norcaltransplant

    norcaltransplant Well-Known Member

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    Wow, fascinating post.  I feel obligated to add a few comments representing the impoverished grad students who aspire to a few pieces of quality English or Italian footwear.  IMHO, I would place Italy slightly ahead of England for ready-to-wear and dead even for bespoke.  Then again, England would get the nod if reputation was weighted heavily.

    So here's my logic:
    Edward Green, Lobb Paris, Grenson, and C&J all make wonderful top quality products, but their distribution is extremely limited in the United States.  Production is limited almost exclusively to Northampton.

    The Italians offer top notch shoes from a wide number of manufacturers--almost too many to even list (Lattanzi, Santoni, Lidfort, StefanoBi, Stefano Branchini, Mantellassi, etc.).  Their shoes generally retail for around x1.2-3 more than top notch English products.  Disregarding cost for a moment, the Italians offer a larger selection with a greater volume.  I stress the volume.  Why?

    For semi-broke students like myself, tasteful Italian shoes can often be found at significant discounts that match or undercut the "real price" of their English counterparts.  FWIW, I've paid around $350 (average) for Lobbs and Greens, and less than $250 for anything Italian in my closet.  This includes a Santoni handmade and a mid-tier Lidfort I picked up for $125 at the February warehouse sale.
     

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