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Vass discontinuing US sales?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by kabert, Apr 6, 2005.

  1. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    And ain't that the truth. That, and a well orchestrated campaign by lesser known countries to promote themselves in the same way Italian manufacturers did. There is pretty much the reason that the "Made in Italy" label came to represent the things it does (elegance, both old world quality *and* modern sophistication, etc...)
     


  2. T4phage

    T4phage Senior member

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    This point has always been bugging me regarding Vass, that there is a great tradition of shoemaking in Hungary (which I do not doubt), but what happened to that "tradition" during the post war years? How were the skills retained? We do not hear of Communist leaders being well shod, in fact, we hear the very opposite (other than those who shopped in the west). Who maintained the skills? Were there clients in Hungary during the Communist era who could afford these handmade shoes? Without patronage, most industries usually die out, and the skills and traditions along with them.
    How did the shoemakers get access to the very best materials which were found in the west? Were there western shoe afficionados who travelled to Hungary during the Cold War to get their "Hungarian" fix?

    I mean no disrespect with these questions, I just wanted to pose them since I have not really gotten any decent answers to how people can claim a 'tradition', when such artisanal skills usually went into steep decline under the Iron Curtain (of course there are exceptions, for example Moser glass which was patronized by the Czech state). I have no doubt that Vass shoes are extremely well made, it is just the 'tradition' that I am wondering about. Hungary is not like the UK, or Italy, or even France whom has an unbroken linage of high quality shoemaking traditions.
     


  3. sartoriale

    sartoriale Well-Known Member Affiliate Vendor

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    How many communist leader wore the East German "A. Lange & Söhne" watches? It was a sleeping industry... Have you heard of them until the mid 90's?
     


  4. T4phage

    T4phage Senior member

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    Lange had to get re established with the help of IWC.

    edit: from the Lange website:
    The industry did die out, most of the workers had to be trained/retrained, with the help of IWC
     


  5. lisapop

    lisapop Senior member

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    The artisanal workmanship of Vass is lost on American men, who I don't think, for the most part, "get" the beauty of truly handmade shoes.  It's quite a rarified area of interest.  I'm afraid the quirky signature designs of Vass add to the resistance (No pun intended). BGs tried selling Weston for a while with no great success, for probably similar reasons--Most guys are not interested in the advantages of cork built into the shoes, etc.  It's mystifying as the same men can embrace the similarly esoteric workmanship of a Kiton suit.  Shoes get short shrift, at least the really elite ones.  These guys just don't have sole.
    Grayson
     


  6. imageWIS

    imageWIS Senior member

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    (sartoriale @ April 08 2005,17:56) How many communist leader wore the East German "A. Lange & Söhne" watches? It was a sleeping industry... Have you heard of them until the mid 90's?
    Lange had to get re established with the help of IWC. edit: from the Lange website:
    The industry did die out, most of the workers had to be trained/retrained, with the help of IWC
    Yes, that is exactly correct. Lange, like so many names were revived. An example is Blancpain, which was revived in the 80's. The only company that can boast the longest non-stop production of timepieces is VC. Jon.
     


  7. imageWIS

    imageWIS Senior member

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    Grayson,

    Pun excluded, I think it's a partial longevity factor. For everyone always recalls that their suits have last for years, and indeed their fathers suits lasted for years (decades) whereas shoes got old, and are normally not as well taken care of and were simply thrown away. Thus, at least from that point of view, there is a value vs. time factorization, which motivates an American male's purchases. Another point might be as well, that on average the suit gets more attention, more compliments than the shoes. More often you will hear: "nice suit", before you hear "nice shoes", sad, but true.

    Jon.
     


  8. imageWIS

    imageWIS Senior member

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    (Phil @ April 08 2005,15:13) I think the lack of brand recognition hurt Vass, as some have aluded. No one knows the brand is pretty accurate. Not only that, the shoes are made outside of the popular and well known shoe making centers of the world. There may be a long and illustrious history of shoe making in Budapest (I think thats where Vass is, right?), but to consumers, they like their expensive shoes made in England or Italy. Thats a hard mentality to break. No matter how handmade something is, its still made in Budapest, and to the average consumer, its outside of their scope of experience. Im not saying I agree, cause I dont, but think of it this way: A new watch brand comes along, made in Slovakia. Great watch, but its not Swiss made. I think it would have a hard time. Even if it was the most well made watch in the history of watches. Hand made suits from Turkey. A guy sets up shop, makes the most beautiful suit ever, but works in Turkey. Its just not gonna get the same respect as perhaps a lesser tailor in England or Italy.
    This point has always been bugging me regarding Vass, that there is a great tradition of shoemaking in Hungary (which I do not doubt), but what happened to that "tradition" during the post war years? How were the skills retained? We do not hear of Communist leaders being well shod, in fact, we hear the very opposite (other than those who shopped in the west). Who maintained the skills? Were there clients in Hungary during the Communist era who could afford these handmade shoes? Without patronage, most industries usually die out, and the skills and traditions along with them. How did the shoemakers get access to the very best materials which were found in the west? Were there western shoe afficionados who travelled to Hungary during the Cold War to get their "Hungarian" fix? I mean no disrespect with these questions, I just wanted to pose them since I have not really gotten any decent answers to how people can claim a 'tradition', when such artisanal skills usually went into steep decline under the Iron Curtain (of course there are exceptions, for example Moser glass which was patronized by the Czech state). I have no doubt that Vass shoes are extremely well made, it is just the 'tradition' that I am wondering about. Hungary is not like the UK, or Italy, or even France whom has an unbroken linage of high quality shoemaking traditions.
    Moser is amazing. My grandparents (and other family members) used to import it into South America after the war, very beautiful works of art; truly World class. Jon.
     


  9. T4phage

    T4phage Senior member

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    Originally posted by Image WIS:
    Yes it is indeed. My wife and I have commisioned a few items from them and they are wonderful. You should visit their factory and see their heritage in glass, along with their more avant garde pieces.
     


  10. Horace

    Horace Senior member

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    (Phil @ April 08 2005,15:13) I think the lack of brand recognition hurt Vass, as some have aluded. Â No one knows the brand is pretty accurate. Â Not only that, the shoes are made outside of the popular and well known shoe making centers of the world. Â There may be a long and illustrious history of shoe making in Budapest (I think thats where Vass is, right?), but to consumers, they like their expensive shoes made in England or Italy. Â Thats a hard mentality to break. Â No matter how handmade something is, its still made in Budapest, and to the average consumer, its outside of their scope of experience. Â Im not saying I agree, cause I dont, but think of it this way: A new watch brand comes along, made in Slovakia. Â Great watch, but its not Swiss made. Â I think it would have a hard time. Â Even if it was the most well made watch in the history of watches. Â Hand made suits from Turkey. Â A guy sets up shop, makes the most beautiful suit ever, but works in Turkey. Â Its just not gonna get the same respect as perhaps a lesser tailor in England or Italy.
    This point has always been bugging me regarding Vass, that there is a great tradition of shoemaking in Hungary (which I do not doubt), but what happened to that "tradition" during the post war years? Â How were the skills retained? Â We do not hear of Communist leaders being well shod, in fact, we hear the very opposite (other than those who shopped in the west). Â Who maintained the skills? Â Were there clients in Hungary during the Communist era who could afford these handmade shoes? Â Without patronage, most industries usually die out, and the skills and traditions along with them. How did the shoemakers get access to the very best materials which were found in the west? Â Were there western shoe afficionados who travelled to Hungary during the Cold War to get their "Hungarian" fix? Â I mean no disrespect with these questions, I just wanted to pose them since I have not really gotten any decent answers to how people can claim a 'tradition', when such artisanal skills usually went into steep decline under the Iron Curtain (of course there are exceptions, for example Moser glass which was patronized by the Czech state). Â I have no doubt that Vass shoes are extremely well made, it is just the 'tradition' that I am wondering about. Â Hungary is not like the UK, or Italy, or even France whom has an unbroken linage of high quality shoemaking traditions.
    T4Ph: I think your musings are very useful; and they mirror mine, for good or ill. I also think Grayson chimed in a with a few useful observations early on, in his inimitably pithy way. This was sort of the line I was circling around in one of my posts on the recent Vass thread on AAAC. I'd give more leeway to Hungary and one or two other post-Soviet-bloc nations for various reasons. Czech would be one, Poland another; though I do not doubt the crippling effects that the Soviets had on these countries, I also know (or at least I think I could put forth a decent argument had I three free days and 100 pages) that many of these countries retained their craftsmanship inspite of Soviet influence, chiefly because they were in a "middle period" with respect to industrialization. An appreciation of the aesthetics of "old-world quality" (and I apologize for the inexact phrase -- which encompasses many things) is usually only really present in a post-industrial world. That is, it has to have passed before it can be present. That, plus considerations of how to market this notion of an Austria-Hungary Empire (which is what Vass is doing), when Hungary was the weaker of the two, and actually quite denigrated by Austria itself. This is just a really bloated way of saying that there are a lot of factors that I think need to be considered before one is able to market with any confidence a shoe made in Hungary. I know someone who's got a product that has similar ethos to Vass and one that comes from the same region; the way that person has handled its presentation despite an ignorant public, is an interesting one. At rate, more when I have time. All this being said, I admire some of the Vass shoes, esp. the traditional Budpest-style. Don't care for the "contemporary line" from what I've seen. I don't know when I'll next be in Europe, but when I do, I'll certainly look into taking a train to Budapest and picking up a pair of their shoes. I happen to like the idea behind the marketing (more than I do the quality), I just don't know that many others do.
     


  11. tattersall

    tattersall Senior member

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    The best thing in the world for Vass is an educated customer. Â They don't need to sell shoes - they need to sell that shoe book. Â
    And ain't that the truth.
    You know, this is what so impressed me with Louis Boston and why I was sad to hear they've dropped the product. As I was admiring the shoes there last year, the sales consultant approached me and began describing the shoes, their construction and then pulled out the book. When I told him I already had the book his response was perfect: "Of course, then you'll want to try on all the styles..." I wish Andrew and Gabor the best of luck in finding other suitable sales points - it will certainly be a challenge, though.
     


  12. kabert

    kabert Senior member

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    Vass does seem to stress more the fact that they are located in "Budapest" and to play down the Hungary part. A good move I think, as Budapest is a beautiful old city with a rich past. How about Budapest of the Ottoman Empire?
     


  13. lisapop

    lisapop Senior member

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    All good points, however if men knew that shoes are often the first item of clothing that members of the opposite sex inspect, they might apply more thought to their shoes in general.  Although, candidly, how many women know Vass and will be impressed with a guy wearing Vass shoes?  Let's face it, you're not gonna get l**d telling someone you're wearing a pair of Vass shoes and a great many men (and women) dress to attract the opposite sex...or the same sex...or whatever.
    Grayson
     


  14. whnay.

    whnay. Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Speak for youself Marc..
     


  15. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    First of all, I would be extremely wary of any woman that was impressed by my shoes before anything else, especially if they are expensive shoes. Second, I would do my best attempt at a sub-10 second 100 meters if she was impressed that they were from a well known, expensive brand.

    I've never really seen this behaviour exhibited by women, except by "Trump Classy" types, and even then, only by a particularly venal and predatory subclass.
     


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