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Archibald London Hand Welted Shoes - preorder issues, discussion,and resolution.

Mercurio

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I found interesting hearing the Stitchdown podcast interview with Ron Rider on "The Secrets Behind Private Label Shoemaking", related with some problems discussed in this thread.

 

clee1982

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Is rider boot company still around? Or just this new project?
 

CWV

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I found interesting hearing the Stitchdown podcast interview with Ron Rider on "The Secrets Behind Private Label Shoemaking", related with some problems discussed in this thread.

Great stuff. now I want him to measure my feet.
 

TC11201

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Ron is good people and this interview is v cool. He used to do re-coloring/patinating for scrubs like me - fabulous artist as well as all-around shoe guru. Apropos this thread, 31:30 - “if you don’t have someone to keep the producers honest, you will get screwed.” As someone who runs a business in a passion-driven industry, frankly, the entire section prior to the first break is an object lesson in how not to enter a business you haven’t operated in previously...
 
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Shoemog

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So has anyone been working with AoL on their new offering? Any ideas?
Bought 4, refunded on 1 and awaiting styles before deciding on refund for others. I do have a pair of their sneakers which do ok.
 

yshin10

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So has anyone been working with AoL on their new offering? Any ideas?
Bought 4, refunded on 1 and awaiting styles before deciding on refund for others. I do have a pair of their sneakers which do ok.
No have you messaged him on whatsapp directly? I don't think they're moving forward on dress shoes. At least that was my thought. I also don't think you'll be able to get refund on the other three pairs since it's been over a year now since the debacle.... Unless you heard otherwise?
 

NatxArchibald

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Hi everyone,

Looking at some of the comments above, I wanted to let you all know we are in the process developing a brand new hand-welted line with a new craftsman.

Internally around the office, we're calling it "Redemption" :)

There will be a lot more updates to follow as we make progress
 

NatxArchibald

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Now for a somewhat lengthy update of a more serious nature, I think it's time we put the the Cappi and fraudulent hand-welted chapter to bed as the situation is finally coming to a close. We (at Archibald London) feel we owe this community and forum a final update as everyone affected has been deeply entrenched in this ordeal at some point.

To clarify the facts and explain how we got here:
1.
Alessandro Cappi is owned and operated by the Cappi family. The business began with Adriano Cappi, who used to make hand-welted shoes for the Testoni brand.

2. The Cappi’s worked closely with us to create a collection of shoes that were delivered to customers between 2017 and 2021. Note: we paid for the modeling, the creation of lasts, and the creation of forms that were officially approved to be used during production.

All shoes delivered up to April 2020 were, in fact, hand-welted and met the standards we chose and approved (mentioned above) for production. We had additional one-off shipments that were also hand-welted, as we kept a reserve stock of half-made shoes that allowed us to fulfill orders faster as they came in.

3. In a shipment delivered on 24th April 2020, Cappi delivered a batch of shoes. Included was a sample of the HW-01, which was subsequently sent out to the community for testing. This was the first piece in which he - without permission - switched the construction. He made no mention of this and quietly carried on fulfilling orders.

At the same time, the 24th April 2020 shipment was dispatching, and the HW-01 was being tested; confident in Cappi’s previous work, we trusted in his QC and turned our focus to channeling all resources into supporting our Archibald Naked initiative. If everyone will remember, this was a project where we made no profit on sales as we offered everything at cost. It was later re-launched due to the devastating effects the Coronavirus pandemic had on small businesses, where the bulk of our items are made, in an effort to support these artisans and help keep them from going out of business

4. Through the collaboration with Cappi, we saw much success and an increasing appetite from the marketplace to give our shoes a chance. As more shoes were delivered, we grew increasingly confident that we had a product we wanted to put our might behind as it was telling the story of what we intended to do with Archibald London. A perfect product ambassador, if you will.

5. @Jmr928 purchased a pair of our HW-01’s and after having a look at the pair for some time and drafting a review with his thoughts, something about the pair bothered him. His suspicions grew when he noticed they were missing the usual “bumps” that are indicative of hand-welting. He took it upon himself to slice the shoes open to check the construction and confirmed they were not, in fact, hand-welted and contacted us.

6. We quickly held a zoom call with @Jmr928, where he explained his findings. At the same time, I was personally messaging Alessandro Cappi (screenshots submitted in our case files), trying to understand what he had done. Cappi denied making any changes to the production order. Even though @Jmr928 had displayed his findings, and we had also performed our own research to look into the matter, Cappi was adamant no changes had ever been made after approving the first pair.

7. We subsequently went through old stock that we had units of and noted that the groove marks indicative of hand-welting were, in fact, present.

At this point, an email was sent to Cappi explaining we had old stock that was hand-welted but did not match the latest production units. Consequently, the explanation he initially offered us couldn’t be true. We asked him to be honest so we could work together to find a solution.

Cappi finally responded to the email and admitted to having made the change. He tried to explain he had done so in good faith. This was not, of course, very "good" for us. For our part, we immediately proceeded to find out as much as we could about the new method of construction used.

8. We sent another shoe (from the early batch of first samples) that had the signature hand-welted groove marks to @Jmr928, who was kind enough to remain in constant communication with us as he had discovered the construction change in the first place. He has proved multiple times to be an honest, impartial critic. This shoe was part of the first 9 samples made but had never made it to production due to 1) the leather and 2) the fact we had requested all shoes be specced with cork.

9. One of the main arguments used by some bad faith critics is that the Cappi’s never even made hand-welted shoes, which is not correct. They do, and up until the switch was made (without our knowledge and against our wishes) had done so for us. Someone else wrote something about how they are a large company that outsources production or something along that line. Unfortunately, they are not large; they are a very small, family-owned, and operated shop.

Any legal undertaking we have initiated has been aimed at protecting our brand and our customers and (previously) convincing Cappi to rectify the situation in lieu of legal action. The entire incident has had heavy financial ramifications on our business, not only leaving us totally out of pocket but has also led to a severe contraction in momentum. A category we risked an at-cost campaign, which took around 15 months to build, was rendered useless along with all of the campaign spend, development costs, and investments made into the product. It is unknown how much Cappi might ultimately have as repayment for our recovery, but we have pursued legal action nonetheless and will continue to do so.

A note on our business model inspiration and decision to work with small workshops:
When Archibald London first started, Rohan spent 3 months sitting in Japan and establishing a network on the ground in Sabae, which allowed Archibald to have contact with not just the producers but with others involved to ensure production was smooth. Furthermore, the cultural nuances, approach to excellence, and pride the Japanese eyewear craftsmen take in their production gave us the idea that if we could find more people around the world with this same mindset, then we could leverage their expertise to create almost any product. We could utilize their expertise as craftsmen to make up for knowledge that we lacked. It would even be applicable to items we knew nothing about as long as we could trust the artisans. As a company with minimal resources, we employed this approach to expand into many more categories, most of which have to date been very successful.

The flaw in this approach (as touched on as part of the business strategy above) is whilst deep research is performed on our end into how a product is made, the Archibald team cannot be experts on everything (hand-welted shoes in this instance) and a level of trust is required when we rely on a craftsman.. In some cases, like with small leather goods, large leather goods, leather jackets, and many of the clothing items we make, we have individuals on the team who know a great deal about these categories. We also utilize consultants in our network to help where there are gaps they can fill. But this incident with Cappi showed that as a team preparing for scale, we can’t always rely on the artisan when we don’t have another expert on hand. What Cappi did was clearly planned and executed on his end in a very duplicitous manner because he knew it would be so unexpected that the chances of us catching the change in his technique (with our limited knowledge at the time) were extremely low. What we have still, to this day, not worked out is how he thought he would get away with the construction change as people began to wear out their shoes over time and sent them to a cobbler. Alessandro Cappi knew full well about Styleforum and the crowd we cater to here, so he must have known at some point someone would open the shoes and realize the truth.

A member on this forum claimed our eyewear production is done on a Luxottica line. This is untrue and if anyone handles or owns the eyewear they will be the first to tell you. The eyewear is made across 16 different boutique workshops in a custom process that we threaded together leveraging contacts and a system used by one of Japan’s oldest, independent, luxury eyewear labels. Over the years we have cultivated and cared for these artisans and established a very strong rapport in Sabae despite the business being relatively small in size still. Whilst we cannot help but be concerned for our business (and many will see that as a big conflict of interest), we are also genuinely worried in terms of the way such a commentary reflects on the master craftsmen that make this eyewear. Japanese artisans have a great degree of pride in the products they create.

10. Following a full understanding of what had happened, and after realizing we (and our community and customers) had been taken for a ride, we sent an email to every person in our database with a full update. Even though we were ashamed, the last thing we wanted to do was hide the situation with Cappi. It was a moment for us to act according to the values we claimed to stand by, and fortunately this was received very positively by much of the community. This same email exists as a blog post on our website and will always remain there.

11. From the very start, our priority lay with the customers who received fraudulent shoes. This meant we moved quickly to launch a full investigation. We looked at every single delivery with the intention of figuring out, first and foremost, who was affected. We started down a very long path of arduous manual work.

We are a very small team that is already spread thin as it is, and we had just been hit with what turned out to be the most difficult, and costly, moment in our history. Tracking down every shoe affected took time and energy we didn’t necessarily have but importantly made time for. Even if it meant halting other projects and working around the clock, we didn’t stop until we were able to complete the task at hand.

It was painful hearing how upset customers were and extremely stressful for the team to try and find the solution we needed to regain the trust we had lost. Cappi might have taken advantage of us, but it was our responsibility to protect our clients and make things right for them.

12. We had in mind a very clear system of recompense for every customer affected. This included an offering of rebates, full refunds, and what we were hoping would be a viable option and our preferred - a remake by Alessandro Cappi to display his skill and stage a comeback. It would also speak to his honor as a legitimate craftsman and partner. We also hoped to use this comeback scenario to work with the SF members to better the product and collection. Turn a disaster into a positive moment as such.

13. At the same time, we began a separate investigation into each and every category, line, and craftsperson we worked with to ensure nothing like this had happened or would happen again.

Given how we have positioned ourselves and the USP of Archibald, we have always been aware that one quality slip or instance of dishonesty could end everything. The situation we found ourselves in was our greatest fear. Whilethis was not a situation we had any hand in orchestrating, as the official legal documents and evidence submitted to the courts clearly show, it was our duty to rectify it and protect our customers, our community, and our brand

14. We engaged a lawyer in Italy, Duilio Cortassa of LJLex Studio Legale in Rome and Turin. With Duilio we began discussions with Cappi to try to secure the re-make as an option and allow him to find a way to minimize the legal ramifications of this fraud. We assumed he would want to regain his reputation the same as us. Cappi (acting both directly and subsequently through his own representation) wavered between being apologetic and somewhat agreeable to attempting to once again deny responsibility and firmly refused to find a compromise.

15. Enough time had passed with the situation still open and unresolved to everyone’s liking that this forum became a bit restless. Our team participated in some of the back and forth as well, so we want to take a moment to note that it was a valuable learning experience.

At the end of the day our goal is to be better, and as a brand Archibald London must learn to stand behind that sentiment regardless of the adversity we face. This means we commit to finding better artisans, building a better product, and creating a better method(s) of buying. These are tangible goals that customers will benefit from and enjoy. No one goes into this industry making luxury goods for the money or looking to make a quick buck. It’s driven by passion and inspiration. We want the customer to feel transported when they buy a piece from Archibald, even if it’s something as simple as a cashmere sweater. When they experience the quality they should feel they have a genuine piece of Italian luxury in their closet that isn’t a cheap blend of knockoff cashmere.

Throughout the entire saga we were in touch with both the forum operators who provided much support. We are eternally thankful towards them. They had the advantage of both meeting us in person and dealing with us quite a bit through the SF-01 collaboration providing them a better understanding of our goals and history which allowed for more productive conversations.

Our founder, Rohan,was also in touch with many of the customers through WhatsApp to discuss a remake, which almost everyone agreed was ideal. He made himself available at all hours of the day when our CS team wasn’t available, in an attempt to offer the best service possible. And sadly, after concluding that there seemed little chance in a re-make, we followed up with every client with the final offers for recompensation, allowing each person to decide which option was best for them individually.

16. A criminal complaint was submitted to the courts in Modena.

17. A little later we received the following message from our lawyer:

Dear Rohan,

To our surprise, the Modena Public Prosecutor's Office informed us this morning that it was not necessary to deliver the samples of the shoes, since the Prosecutor decided to close the investigation and put Mr Cappi on trial. The next step will be, Mr Cappi will be served an information that the investigation is closed. Subsequently, he will be informed of his indictment.

In other words, Mr Cappi will be informed shortly that the Prosecutor is convinced of his guilt. Whether or not this will convince Mr Cappi to be reasonable and to offer a settlement, we cannot predict, of course.

Now, in order to recover damages, we may either opt for joining a civil action to that criminal proceeding, or we may sue Mr Cappi in the civil court. It is highly unlikely that the Criminal Court will ever quantify the damage suffered by the plaintiff and, therefore, the most likely solution is that, in the event of an actual conviction in the criminal court, the criminal judge will then refer the matter to the civil judge for the quantification of damages suffered by Archibald.

In the light of the above, I already suggested you we should start a civil proceeding, and we should do it immediately after Mr Cappi will be put on trial, i.e., in a few weeks or so. If you agree, we will check the costs of the procedure and let you know in detail.

Warm regards,
Duilio

18. We were then waiting for the formal indictment and criminal charge against Alessandro Cappi and his company for fraud. This brings us to January of this year, when most of this note was originally drafted.

19. In February, we encountered an issue. When we observed the actual recommendation made by the prosecutor to the judge, he stated there was no clear criminal activity by Cappi and that the shoes he delivered were handmade and not so much different to hand welted shoes.

This meant we had to submit additional information to the prosecutor and challenge his conclusion and recommendation to the judge. We did this by once again breaking down the issue but also having a formal analysis made by a master shoemaker comparing the two shoes, through which we found the construction Cappi did is known as an IDEAL construction. We also submitted a statement from Orlando, who was handing Alessandro Cappi throughout this time as well as the videos of 2019 that Cappi made with him clearly explaining how he made the shoes (when he was doing it correctly)

We are now awaiting the final criminal judgment.

We will be pursuing subsequent civil action against Alessandro Cappi and will be claiming a full refund on all fraudulent products as well as for the substantial losses we have suffered in brand reputation and lost business.

The hand-welted line was a very large and important part of our business that we had planned around, and the sudden loss threw us into a very bad tailspin as none of our other product lines. The clients lost, and the damage to our reputation is also devastating. For example, when someone googles “Archibald London Reputation,” this SF thread is the first thing a potential new customer sees.

A personal note from Rohan:
“The business that I am trying to build is not easy. I hope to push forward and focus on all of the good we have been developing behind the scenes. With this chapter behind us, we look forward to focusing our attention on the future of Archibald and sharing that with you.

The experience also taught me that the shoe industry, particularly as it relates to this community, doesn’t really work the same way as many others and the mark-ups from wholesale to final retail are generally lower, particularly for the smaller brands that focus on high craft. Whilst this is not always the case, it is true for many of the specialist shops where many here who enjoy these products purchase from. This means that being disruptive in this game is somewhat challenging as the model lends little room for disruption where enthusiasts often work directly with craftsmen, makers and workshops directly and there is no middle-man to be removed, so to speak. The major issue is that we are not totally vertically integrated. The option available to us is to commission production with makers. That being said, with our business model, I still believe we are able to provide our customers with value while highlighting craftsmanship. With Alessandro Cappi we were spending upwards of 198 (up to 218 ignoring shell cordovan pairs) Euros for most shoes purchased and this didn’t include costs of packaging, freight, shipping and any other taxes applicable. If his pairs had continued to be truly hand-welted, and if he had continued to use the leather and other materials we specced out for our shoes, perhaps it would have been a different story.

I know that a pair of Goodyear welted shoes from a very reputable brand that are generally loved on these forums wholesales for GBP 166 and are subsequently sold at an RRP of GBP 580. That presents a mark-up of 2.32 x when sold at full price and a margin of GBP 317.33 per sale (not accounting for other costs of sale and delivery). If we were to offer this pair through our fairly defined cost structure, if we were to purchase a commissioned pair from this maker for GBP 166, Archibald Buyers Club members would be able to buy the shoe for around GBP 298 (landed and all-inclusive) and USD 356 (landed and all-inclusive) - Perhaps not as disruptive as I had initially hoped, but still a better value for our community than the current market offers in many cases.” As our business scales and processes become increasingly efficient, this will decrease.

Therefore as we look to re-launch a new collection of hand-welted shoes (with strengthened QC involving shoe experts - some of whom are members of SF - and also consultants), we will be wary given our history and look to sell exactly what we promise.”

In closing:
The team would be happy to hold a google meet to discuss everything and answer any questions should there be enough expressed interest from this forum. All of you are invited, so please let us know. Our only request is that we all enter into a respectful, meaningful conversation if this meeting is to take place and that we do so with our cameras on and full introductions to keep everything transparent and open. Community, and the steps that go into building one, are paramount to achieving what Archibald hopes to as a brand. So if our community still has questions about our business practices, or if our critics still choose to call us unethical, please express interest in having a zoom meeting so we can answer your questions and address your concerns directly. We have nothing to hide and look forward to getting back to what we set out to do from the onset; providing truly special products at an accessible price point and highlighting the craftsmen and craftswomen who make them.

A huge thank you to everyone,

@NatxArchibald @ArchibaldRoh @Idaxarchibaldlondon @cindyxarchibald
 
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Cheshire symposium

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Dear Rohan,

To our surprise, the Modena Public Prosecutor's Office informed us this morning that it was not necessary to deliver the samples of the shoes, since the Prosecutor decided to close the investigation and put Mr Cappi on trial. The next step will be, Mr Cappi will be served an information that the investigation is closed. Subsequently, he will be informed of his indictment.

In other words, Mr Cappi will be informed shortly that the Prosecutor is convinced of his guilt. Whether or not this will convince Mr Cappi to be reasonable and to offer a settlement, we cannot predict, of course.

Now, in order to recover damages, we may either opt for joining a civil action to that criminal proceeding, or we may sue Mr Cappi in the civil court. It is highly unlikely that the Criminal Court will ever quantify the damage suffered by the plaintiff and, therefore, the most likely solution is that, in the event of an actual conviction in the criminal court, the criminal judge will then refer the matter to the civil judge for the quantification of damages suffered by Archibald.

In the light of the above, I already suggested you we should start a civil proceeding, and we should do it immediately after Mr Cappi will be put on trial, i.e., in a few weeks or so. If you agree, we will check the costs of the procedure and let you know in detail.

Warm regards,
Duilio
To be frank, I am not convinced that this is a REAL letter from your lawyer. Can you kindly supply a copy of the original?
 

NatxArchibald

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To be frank, I am not convinced that this is a REAL letter from your lawyer. Can you kindly supply a copy of the original?
Kindly enjoy the below insert, as all of this is real. We wouldn't be putting ourselves out on a limb like this if it weren't.

Our aim is to be transparent, but going forward we would prefer to field any more questions along the same vein of thought (or inquiry) on a video call as requested in our closing statement. We have all of the case submissions should anyone really like to see.
 

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Cheshire symposium

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Kindly enjoy the below insert, as all of this is real. We wouldn't be putting ourselves out on a limb like this if it weren't.

Our aim is to be transparent, but going forward we would prefer to field any more questions along the same vein of thought (or inquiry) on a video call as requested in our closing statement. We have all of the case submissions should anyone really like to see.
Wonderful; let's go for full transparency. Can you kindly tell me what is the relationship between 'Beaufort Mayfair UK Limited' and Archibald of London?
 

NatxArchibald

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Wonderful; let's go for full transparency. Can you kindly tell me what is the relationship between 'Beaufort Mayfair UK Limited' and Archibald of London?
Full transparency. AL has no relationship to BM. BM was a private showroom concept the boys tried to start with other luxury brands. It never took off, and the pandemic pretty much shuttered most showroom concepts

Part of being an entrepreneur means an individual is involved with multiple businesses, testing different concepts across different industries... Members of our team are involved with consumer insights, luxury goods, food, ecommerce platforms, trading, furniture, consultancy for Amazon aggregators, etc.

Personally, I have a custom live edge table company based in Los Angeles if anyone is interested in ordering a piece... Etz & Steel (and we ship worldwide)

But pls note, this thread is meant to be a conversation about the incident with Cappi.
 
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ArchibaldRoh

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On a separate note, if anyone participating on this thread has experience working in consumer insights and big data, I have been building something I think is pretty cool and would love to hear your thoughts on it.
 

NatxArchibald

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Ok. So If anyone is interested in participating in a cameras-on session, to discuss the matter with hand-welted shoes, please let us know. You can email me at [email protected].

We will now be leaving this thread until a date for a video call can be decided upon. We are happy to go through any and all questions, concerns, and sharing of assets then.

As before, thank you everyone
 

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