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Top 14 list of shoes under $500 for newbies

ValidusLA

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Clicked on a thread ready to beat a dead horse and crap on the husk of a formerly proud American shoemaker......
Alas no need.

C+J sans VAT got complicated in 2022. All the signs of them starting to crack down are there.

Pretty sure they fired the nice woman who was running mail order.

Pediwear and Bodileys are great sources, but was talking to both last week about getting some new season models, and C+J doesn't give them access. Pediwears selection is even more limited than Bodileys it seems.

I would not be surprised if CJ cuts them off within 5 years.
 

ValidusLA

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Re: Above - another one to watch would be Borghini.
Runs sales and sans VAT.
1650955576607.png
 

clee1982

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Clicked on a thread ready to beat a dead horse and crap on the husk of a formerly proud American shoemaker......
Alas no need.

C+J sans VAT got complicated in 2022. All the signs of them starting to crack down are there.

Pretty sure they fired the nice woman who was running mail order.

Pediwear and Bodileys are great sources, but was talking to both last week about getting some new season models, and C+J doesn't give them access. Pediwears selection is even more limited than Bodileys it seems.

I would not be surprised if CJ cuts them off within 5 years.

enjoy it while it lasts!
 

BColl_Has_Too_Many_Shoes

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Clicked on a thread ready to beat a dead horse and crap on the husk of a formerly proud American shoemaker......
Alas no need.

C+J sans VAT got complicated in 2022. All the signs of them starting to crack down are there.

Pretty sure they fired the nice woman who was running mail order.

Pediwear and Bodileys are great sources, but was talking to both last week about getting some new season models, and C+J doesn't give them access. Pediwears selection is even more limited than Bodileys it seems.

I would not be surprised if CJ cuts them off within 5 years.
enjoy it while it lasts!

I can reassess their inclusion in a list come 2023. As @clee1982 just said, enjoy these prices while you can.
Sadly, it appears that anyone attempting to find a pair of CJs at a decent price without a sale will be disappointed. 🤷🏻‍♂️
 

DrewMill

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It's strange ot me to place Allen Edmonds as a brand over 500, because they basically do not make shoes over 500 which are not made of shell cordovan. Moreover, you'd be crazy to buy a pair of their calf shoes for retail, as they are on sale almost every day of the year for around 300 or less. The only time I've ever bought calfskin shoes from them on retail was because I wanted a very specific model and it was a limited run (Broadstreet spectators).

Allen Edmonds is a great brand for ~300ish dollar calf shoes, especially if you have wide feet. Their shell cordovan are also worth shelling out (ba dum dum pssh) for, especially given how many options you have for cordovan shoes, but the only reason those are that expensive is that cordovan is a rarer leather now that horses don't play that big of a role in our economy anymore.

I think, if I remember correctly, in the video he was specifically talking about AE's cordovan in this comparison.
 

clee1982

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Think you can still get decent number of model ex VAT from Euro or UK retailer on CJ, when they start global pricing then it’s all oh well (though looks like they purposely withhold newest model).
 

Testudo_Aubreii

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This list is quite helpful; thanks, BColl. It looks like Carmina will soon pass the 500 excl VAT threshold. So we probably need an update. Also, the list is a bit NYC-centric. Understandable, because SF trends NYC-centric.

If I were near Italy, in this price bracket, I'd be looking at:

-Barrett (have some good-looking Blake/Rapid on their site for 470 EUR incl VAT. And the top end are ~ 500 USD before tax. I don't get why SF's EU members seem to ignore Barrett; many elegant, well-made Blake/Rapids at reasonable prices. Taken purely as a construction method, Blake/Rapid with a midsole easily beats GYW. And they have stores in Paris and Moscow.)

-Franceschetti (plenty of Blake/Rapids for under 500 EUR excl tax. Don't get why US/Can members rave about 1K+ USD GYW or Blake Santonis or SF Tramezzas etc when Franceschetti offers basically just as good for half or even less at retail. True, F don't do Santoni's hand-painting. But you are paying a lot for that and S's North American distribution...) (Franceschetti also make the W. Gibbs and Lendvay & Schwarcz labels.)

-De Tommaso (have what they claim to be a hand-welted semi-brogue on their website for 350 EUR. Could just be Blake/Rapid with a midsole, but seems clearly a well-made shoe.)

-Romano Martegani/Cortina (website doesn't seem to list any of their ~500 EUR incl tax shoes as Blake/Rapid, just Blake. The shoes shown are thin-soled. But that could be a misprint: Blake/Rapid can be done without a midsole; and RM were well thought of here for their Blake/Rapids 10 years back. And they offer a MTM service for a slight upcharge.)

If I were near Singapore, I'd be looking at CNES. Attractive good-quality hand-welteds for under 500 USD all-in.

Also quite useful would be a "Top-quality 500-900 USD (less tax)" thread. This is where things get really interesting. And it's where I think many SF shoe addicts would like to be. You get hand-welted, hand-soled MTOs from several Budapest makers; MTM hand-welted from Chinese makers like BW or (I think) Mexican makers like Amareto or Rhoncus; hand-welted MTO from Oct. 10th; Argentum welt by Meccariello; or high-quality hand-welted MTO from Winson; those going up against C&J Handgrade, Testoni, Alden, some Santoni...

Another thread that would be really useful: West Slavic Shoemakers. SF shoehounds in Europe should be checking out Kielman and Szuba in Poland; Zacharias or Pažitný in Slovakia; Lawart in Czech. Prices well below the forum favorites in the Bespoke Shoes thread. And I'll bet their MTMs/MTOs are even cheaper...
 

BColl_Has_Too_Many_Shoes

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This list is quite helpful; thanks, BColl. It looks like Carmina will soon pass the 500 excl VAT threshold. So we probably need an update. Also, the list is a bit NYC-centric. Understandable, because SF trends NYC-centric.

If I were near Italy, in this price bracket, I'd be looking at:

-Barrett (have some good-looking Blake/Rapid on their site for 470 EUR incl VAT. And the top end are ~ 500 USD before tax. I don't get why SF's EU members seem to ignore Barrett; many elegant, well-made Blake/Rapids at reasonable prices. Taken purely as a construction method, Blake/Rapid with a midsole easily beats GYW. And they have stores in Paris and Moscow.)

-Franceschetti (plenty of Blake/Rapids for under 500 EUR excl tax. Don't get why US/Can members rave about 1K+ USD GYW or Blake Santonis or SF Tramezzas etc when Franceschetti offers basically just as good for half or even less at retail. True, F don't do Santoni's hand-painting. But you are paying a lot for that and S's North American distribution...) (Franceschetti also make the W. Gibbs and Lendvay & Schwarcz labels.)

-De Tommaso (have what they claim to be a hand-welted semi-brogue on their website for 350 EUR. Could just be Blake/Rapid with a midsole, but seems clearly a well-made shoe.)

-Romano Martegani/Cortina (website doesn't seem to list any of their ~500 EUR incl tax shoes as Blake/Rapid, just Blake. The shoes shown are thin-soled. But that could be a misprint: Blake/Rapid can be done without a midsole; and RM were well thought of here for their Blake/Rapids 10 years back. And they offer a MTM service for a slight upcharge.)

If I were near Singapore, I'd be looking at CNES. Attractive good-quality hand-welteds for under 500 USD all-in.

Also quite useful would be a "Top-quality 500-900 USD (less tax)" thread. This is where things get really interesting. And it's where I think many SF shoe addicts would like to be. You get hand-welted, hand-soled MTOs from several Budapest makers; MTM hand-welted from Chinese makers like BW or (I think) Mexican makers like Amareto or Rhoncus; hand-welted MTO from Oct. 10th; Argentum welt by Meccariello; or high-quality hand-welted MTO from Winson; those going up against C&J Handgrade, Testoni, Alden, some Santoni...

Another thread that would be really useful: West Slavic Shoemakers. SF shoehounds in Europe should be checking out Kielman and Szuba in Poland; Zacharias or Pažitný in Slovakia; Lawart in Czech. Prices well below the forum favorites in the Bespoke Shoes thread. And I'll bet their MTMs/MTOs are even cheaper...

I believe that the list was more US Centric (maybe Canadian as well). I won't disagree then that the list wouldn't necessarily be applicable to Asian and European folks (England aside).

My main issue with many Italian brands is the usage of Blake or Blake rapid construction. The cobblers that can resole those shoes are not as ubiquitous here in the states and Canada. Saying that, Franceschetti and De Tommaso are fantastic. CNES is also extremely good.

Top-quality 500-900 USD shoes would be interesting. AM and many of the Chinese brands would probably dominate that thread.
 

Testudo_Aubreii

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Agree that many North American cobblers are unfamiliar with Blake/Rapid. Doubt resoling a midsoled-B/R is more difficult than for GYW, though. Uses the same Rapid stitcher as GYW. And the whole thing's more stable than GYW because of the midsole. In what Bengal described as a single-soled Blake/Rapid (B/R, not Blake), I'm less sure. What I gather is that single-sole B/R must have a real welt (or perhaps a "sole" so thin it's not worth calling a "midsole") which must go as far under the turned-in upper as a true welt does in GYW. You then stick that welt under the turned-in upper. You then glue them (and the insole?) together and then Blake stitch the insole to the upper and the welt. And then you Rapid stitch the outsole onto the welt. So this is more of a real welt, not a fake welt. And unlike standard GYW, it's (assuming a leather insole is used) a real leather-to-leather bond. (I wonder whether this is what Rancourt means by "Blake welted." That would resolve all the confusion over their using that label.) But I guess this could be tougher to resole if you're not familiar with Blake stitching, because that welt needs to be Blake stitched to the upper and insole.

Wish I could find illustrations of single-sole B/R, but can't. So folks will just have to imagine how it hybridizes midsole B/R with welted.
blake-stitch-construction-1024x1024.jpg
Goodyear-welt-construction-e1537665277699.jpg
 

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