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The CM Graveyard: First Sartoria Partenopea... next J. Crew?

Luigi_M

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@smittycl , in Europe AS shoes were available through several British retailers.
I bought all my five pairs from A Fine Pair of Shoes, whose service I can only commend and at the time offered a 10% discount to SF members.
Sizing was quite easy too, and I found them true to size even for my wideish UK10.5 feet in all the three lasts I own (87, 109 and 724).
I understand that you want to try the shoes in person though, and this would have been a problem as AS wasn't well represented around. Until now I've been lucky with my online purchases but admittedly it may be risky with all the fees and taxes involved in sending items back and forth.
With Brexit I myself have almost quit buying from Britain.
 

bry2000

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Maybe easier to find in Europe? My only experience with them was at Sid Mashburn. they seemed nice but I was already sold on C&J by that point.
Years ago, Leffot carried the Handgrade or Exclusive line or whatever it was called. Really great stuff. Always felt they were in the same category as EG and GG, but at a lower price.
 

smittycl

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Years ago, Leffot carried the Handgrade or Exclusive line or whatever it was called. Really great stuff. Always felt they were in the same category as EG and GG, but at a lower price.
I need to visit Leffot next time I get to visit NYC. They were closed last time I came by.

I’ve learned to add +1 year to any memory I have of travel. 2020 was a black hole in so many ways.
 

IJReilly

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They wanted to be everything to everyone with low level construction and leather quality shoes on one end and handgrade on the other (with relatively similar branding), an extremely confusing situation that made it impossible to fully market the brand one way or another. You cannot develop brand value without clear association with a level of quality and price positioning.

That's why we had to drop them after a couple years. They continued to exist because of all the private label work they did for brands (who knew how to position themselves).

They also felt some allegiance to a couple of aggressive off-price UK sellers that only devalued the brand and product but apparently supported them enough financially to let it happen.
Interesting. I had no idea they had a lower end line.
 

sugarbutch

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I bought a pair of black captoes at their Wingtip trunk show (I think they were still On The Fly then). I’ve been really happy with them.
 

othertravel

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Brexit is hurting the fashion industry, with the exception of Harris Tweed (apparently):

 

othertravel

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Also, got an email from the Rake promoting 25% off their Alexander Kraft collection.

Apparently, they're moving their warehousing/distribution out of the UK and into Italy due to Brexit.
 

emptym

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AS is coming back:
Highly interesting update on the Sargent story: The Alfred Sargent saga is not over! In this large interview with Paul Sargent you'll learn why the company ended up in liquidation, what will happen to the Alfred Sargent brand, and most importantly about how Paul will continue to make shoes in the Rushden factory. Read the interview here.
And despite @emptym’s best efforts to boost the brand. That’s really sad.
Their trunk show was a fun meetup that @comrade mentioned recently. AS offered me a free pair then, like Fok, but I turned it down. Should have said yes! Their dark brown (mink?) suede was the nicest I'd ever seen, still is.
They wanted to be everything to everyone with low level construction and leather quality shoes on one end and handgrade on the other (with relatively similar branding), an extremely confusing situation that made it impossible to fully market the brand one way or another. You cannot develop brand value without clear association with a level of quality and price positioning.

That's why we had to drop them after a couple years. They continued to exist because of all the private label work they did for brands (who knew how to position themselves).

They also felt some allegiance to a couple of aggressive off-price UK sellers that only devalued the brand and product but apparently supported them enough financially to let it happen.
I really liked that they made shoes at different quality and price levels. Sometimes I'd want one shoe that was very refined and one that wasn't. And with shoes made on the same or similar lasts, I could be comfortable buying various shoes at these different levels online, since I'd know they would fit.
Similar to your earlier comment I could never tell what was good there. They seemed unfocused.
Anyway, hard for me to buy shoes online.
In addition to better upper and sole leathers and finishing details like fiddleback waists and tapered heels, handgrades had better unseen construction details like hand/bed lasting, keeping uppers on lasts for a long time, and leather heel and toe puffs, which not even EG uses acc to various deconstructions of them.
 

emptym

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I should mention that AS did give me a couple free pairs well before the trunk show as "payment" for letting them use a boot design I did (mainly just a mishmash of boots from different makers).

The longer story: Back in '08-'09, before their restructuring that brought the exclusive and handgrade lines, I reached out to AS to buy a one-off at their regular level of quality, which was about the level of CJ bench grade, imo. That shoe was my "oneshoe." After that, I asked them to make a boot and sent them a design. Their manager then, Chris Green, iirc, liked it so much that he offered to make the boots for free and give me another pair of shoes at their then-experimental higher level of quality, which later branched into the exclusives and handgrades. I said yes, and that model sold well, iirc their highest-selling model for a while and was featured in a WSJ article on English shoes. After that, I bought a couple more pairs of handgrades.
 

smittycl

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am55

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I'd be curious to see how this evolves post-covid. Here in SG (where there have been essentially no cases for months, and life is back to normal + masks) the malls are full even without tourists. To be fair they're all well connected by public transport and continuously under huge nearby competitive pressure, unlike US suburban malls.
 

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