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shoes for fledgling professional wardrobe

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by cl5, May 7, 2005.

  1. alchimiste

    alchimiste Senior member

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    Some Italians make good shoes (not just Lattanzi and Kiton). One issue is that some such as Gravati also make a lot of ugly shoes. English shoe makers generally have fewer models, and you are less likely to get something really bad.

    Left or right?

    I agree with this. I am a novice too and notice that my tastes change very fast.
    AE is safe and cheap if you get them from an outlet. They are not very fashion forward but owning a pair of conservative shoes cannot hurt (funerals, meeting with in-laws, etc.). Go wild when you are sure you'll still like the shoes years from now. Otherwise, as jn3 said, you'll just be wasting your money.

    Mathieu
     
  2. RIDER

    RIDER Senior member

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    What are you baseing that opinion on?

    To generically describe an entire countries' production as 'over-priced' without any facts to prove your point is not very fair. I have worked very hard to develop a nice range of traditional dress shoes from Martegani (made in Italy) at $325 retail...please tell me which English shoe is better for this price. Actually, please tell me which English manufacturer is better at less than $500. Why?
     
  3. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

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    Rider, you are right that some of the not-as-well-known Italian manufacturers make an excellent shoe, which is why I qualified my opinion by saying that it was based on relatively little experience (say, four brands of English shoes vs. 4 brands of Italian shoes). Â I have never tried or seen a Martenagi, and they certainly look beautiful. Â I am not saying that Italians make ugly shoes or poor quality shoes. Â Far from it. Â But I think that dollar for dollar, comparing price points, English shoes USUALLY have more durable uppers and are made with a stronger welt (I rarely see an Italian shoe at under $500 that isn't blake stitched, and I just think that the "goodyear" welt is a more durable way of making a shoe). Â I don't particularly like the Gravatis that I've seen in person, though I'm certain that your special order program allows you to get some really great Gravati shoes. I also said that Italian shoes are GENERALLY overpriced, and I stand by this. What's my evidence? (1) That part of the pricing problem is caused by the strong Euro, (2) anything Italian has a significant cache in America and therefore can charge a premium based on this, and (3) most of the well-known fashion houses are based out of Italy, and these are the makers that can charge another label premium. I think Ferragamo and Santoni are overpriced, to name two (I'm not saying they're crap. I'm saying that they should cost about 20% less than they do. Tramezzas cost as much at retail than C&J Handgrades.). Prada is obviously overpriced. I've never heard anyone say that Mantellassi is a great deal at retail. The Italian shoes that aren't overpriced -- and you named one -- are generally difficult to find. I have never seen a Martenagi shoe except for your website and had never heard of it before either. We should have recommended that our new member check out the Franco's website. Â They do have some great shoes -- indeed, some that I'd get myself if I needed shoes. Â I'll back up and say that I was using broad generalizations because our new member said he was going to drop $1K on two pairs of shoes in the next two or three days. Giving him some rules of thumb I felt was a bit necessary. Franco's Website
     
  4. alchimiste

    alchimiste Senior member

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    I too have heard that Italian shoes were generally overpriced and that Italian stuff overall was beautiful but would fall apart easily. so who are the Italian shoe makers whose leather and construction qualities are commensurate with the price they charge.

    Mathieu
     
  5. johnapril

    johnapril Senior member

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    Perhaps Italian shoes are constructed for milder climates, therefore the construction methods reflect that.
     
  6. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

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    I think that is probably true of a lot of the makers, JA. To that extent, a lighter Italian shoe might be a good choice for the Los Angeles weather. Let me reiterate again that I don't think Italian shoes in the $300 - $600 range are junk -- some are, but many aren't. It is just that, when you buy them at retail, you've gotta make sure you aren't paying a "country of origin" surcharge.
     
  7. AlanC

    AlanC Senior member

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    I think it's well to note that such folks as Rider, jcusey, AHarris and He Who Must Not Be Named (initials "M.G.") all have endorsed the quality of many of the Italian made shoes available through Franco's. I understand that Rider has a financial interest in the discussion, but through his comments on the forum--and other's reported dealings with him--I trust that he is dealing in a quality product.

    I confess my own prejudices against the Italian shoes in favor of the English due to sheer Anglophilia, but Rider has gotten my attention with the computer based bespoke program he's working on. I'm also very interested in the Albaledejos he will soon be carrying (I do understand that they are Spanish).

    I agree that the best option for our young bank manager is to start out with some Allen Edmonds at discount. The quality to value is there as is the appropriate conservative styling. He won't be taking a risk or making any mistakes with that move. Then after building up his knowledge he can venture into other sources.
     
  8. RIDER

    RIDER Senior member

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    OK - fair enough. But everyone should keep in mind a few points.

    1) The large Italian 'brands' are not generally manufacturers; including Ferragamo. In cases like this, you are not buying a shoe from a factory thru a retailer. You are buying a shoe from a factory, thru a marketing company then from a retailer. Not to mention the only advantage a marketing company (brand) has - the advertising expences to create a 'brand image'. Also, in most cases, these guys sell from some pretty swanky real estate. Expensive...and you pay for it. Therefore, the 'brands' sell for a premium. It is not, however, because they are made in Italy.
    2) You can always count on a price increase when a small to medium size manufacturer opens up shop in NYC or other expensive locations. I've heard all kinds of excuses for price increases over the years - most recently was 'the Chinese are buying up all the supply of raw materials' - but these usually come on the heels of a real estate expansion.
    3) You are correct about the dollar/euro value, but our currency is far worse off against the pound, so were not getting value there. All things being equal, an English shoe would cost 30% more than if it were made in Italy.
    4) Light weight 'Italian' shoes are made for the American market at American Buyers request, and purchase orders. Truth is, even the Italians have a hard time understanding how these shoes sell. At the MICAM show in Milan, if you were to go to the Santoni stand, you would not see a single nappa mocassin. They would, upon verification of your store, pull a curtain (at least a few years ago) and show the 'shoes we make for the American agent'. Not something they take a great deal of pride in at the factory, apparently. Also, outside of the tourist areas, try to find 'light-weight' shoes in Italian shops...you won't. They are for a market where a vast majority of the shoe buying public live in suburbs, walk to the driveway and ride their car to a suburban office, where the garage is covered and the offices are carpeted - America.
    5) Take a look at the Borgioli page on my site and look at the Roma in Shell Cordovan. This shoe is the antithesis of 'light-weight Italian shoes'. They are, in fact, made in Italy.
    6) 'Goodyear welted' footwear is great footwear - but anything with a glued on, paper feather should not be called 'Goodyear welted' IMO. It should simply be called 'welted' footwear. I see no advantage to 'welted' footwear from the UK over 'blake/rapid' constructed footwear from Italy. As a matter of fact, I suggest that 'blake/rapid' is superior due to the full leather mid-sole, rather than a layer of glue/cork to take up the space left by a glued on paper feather, but that's just my opinion.

    Ok, off my soapbox now...I do agree that many of the more well known Italian shoes are over-priced. It's just a bit of a sensitive area with me because I know many Italian manufacturers who hate what the 'marketers' have done here in regards to pricing, and I go out of my way and work very hard to provide value as well as quality...that's my business plan, basically. And the big stores...Nordstrom is as much to blame for this issue as anyone, what with their return policy that customers think is so great without the knowledge that Nordstrom simply laughs it off and passes all these mis-fit shoes back to the manufacturer/brand and that the costs go up next season for everyone to accomadate this. And for the smaller guys like Santoni - don't think for a second that the forced returns that Nordstrom passes back to them don't reflect in the next seasons price increases. I could go on and on about them, but I'll probably get in trouble, so now I really will get off the box...
     
  9. Michael66

    Michael66 Active Member

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    [​IMG] ... you should also think of number of ordinary Hungarian who are able to buy shoes made by Vass:))) And icomes in Hungary and Czech are very similar... I´m not able to pay more than 200 EUR for shoes.... maybe for one pair, not for all my shoes.
     
  10. thinman

    thinman Senior member

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    I'll second this advice--head to the outlet mall in Cabazon, take a look at and try on some Allen-Edmonds and Ferragamos. You can get both makes at significantly less than retail. The style of the Ferragamos is generally closer to the shoes you posted and the Allen-Edmonds may be better made (I've owned both makes for insufficient time to judge for myself). As I recall from a visit last March, the Brooks outlet store doesn't stock shoes.
     
  11. jcusey

    jcusey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    This is true of just about all Italian makers because just about all Italian makers will give the people order all the rope necessary to hang themselves. The possibilities are virtually endless, and, unfortunately for some retailers, that's not a good thing. If you've seen ugly Gravati shoes, the fault is the retailer who ordered them, not Gravati. And if you have good taste and confidence in your own judgment, you need not worry about this: buy the good stuff, leave the bad stuff be.
     
  12. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

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    I haven't liked the leather quality on the Gravatis I've seen. Nothing to do with the design. Just seems too thin and flimsy to me -- almost like vinyl.
     
  13. jcusey

    jcusey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    You're talking about Santoni and Moreschi, aren't you? I was tremendously disappointed to see that Moreschi had opened up a store on Madison Avenue. I don't know the back story, but in my mind, I can see some young hotshot business school graduate convincing the Moreschi family that they can be the next Bally or Ferragamo, and I don't think that it will do a thing for the quality of the shoes.

    I actually like the cork amalgam used in welted shoes -- they evenually adopt the curvature of my feet. The other advantage of welted shoes is that the stitching that attaches the outsole to the insole does not come in contact with your feet. Believe it or not, but I find that you actually can feel the interior stitching on Blake-constructed shoes. Not that big deal, especially if the shoe has a full sock liner, but all other things being equal, I would choose the welted shoe.

    Like Rider, I don't agree with the proposition that you're better off with English shoes if you don't want to spend over $500. Grenson Masterpieces and C&J Handgrade shoes both retail in the same neighborhood as Gravati shoes. I've tried all three brands, but I have a heck of a lot more Gravatis, and the Grenson and C&J shoes mostly just sit in the closet. The Gravati shoes are more comfortable, better-looking, and offer me a lot more flexibility in styling and leather choices than the Grenson and C&J shoes do.

    Moreschi, Santoni, and Moreschi all make outstanding shoes in the under-$500 price range, too. It's true that Italian shoes are more of a minefield than English shoes, but if you know what you're doing, there's no problem finding good ones.
     
  14. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

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    I love the look of the Marteganis on RIDER's site. If I could have some idea of what kind of "hand" the leather has, I'd very likely order a pair. Little help here?
     
  15. jcusey

    jcusey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Gravati has literally hundreds and hundreds of different leathers available from all the best Italian tanneries (including some of the same tanneries that the likes of Edward Green use). It's up to the retailer to choose what he wants. If he wants thin leathers, Gravati will be more than happy to make up shoes in them.
     
  16. jcusey

    jcusey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Depends on the shoe. I think that most of Rider's Marteganis are made from Rustik calf, which is a very nice chrome-tanned calfskin with a vegetable retan. This means that you're probably going to have to work to get a mirror finish, but it does shine up fairly well. It's not super-thick, but you really can't describe it as thin and flimsy.
     
  17. cpac

    cpac Senior member

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    If you want a bit more fashion foward, in a quality shoe (that isn't crazy expensive), I'd take a look at Adam Derrick's To Book New York line. Nordstrom and Saks at least carry them... www.toboot.com
     
  18. RIDER

    RIDER Senior member

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    PM me; I'll send you swatches and a sample. Or give me a call at the shop

    888-254-0950

    I'll be there tomorrow after 10am. Ask for Ron (me).
     
  19. alchimiste

    alchimiste Senior member

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    Strictly speaking, the only thing that should not be called Goodyear is hand-made shoes, since Goodyear refers to the machine used for stitching not to the way the feather is made.

    This said I do understand that there is a difference between glued-on linen feather, Weston feather and feather on high-end/bespoke shoes. I am not sure I understand why the latter is better than the other two though.

    Mathieu
     
  20. alchimiste

    alchimiste Senior member

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    When I asked about these Manton told me they are rather overpriced. And Nordstrom did not have my size anyway.
     

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