They say that nothing gets better with the passing of years (at least in the case of men). I am inclined to disagree this saying. At least when it comes to choosing shoes, it doesn’t fit. The shoes that I’m ordering now are much closer to the simple line of the shoes belonging to shoemaking’s years of glory. In the case of the last pair I ordered from Maftei Vienna, I gave up the complicated models in favor of a simple derby model with no stitching in the back. Shoes are made on my now old Maftei last. I can honestly say that now, after small successive modifications, this last fits me like a glove. I will make no remarks referring to this pair for the simple reason that I am very satisfied with the way it came out. I will use the occasion given by this new pair in order to pen down a few reflections that crossed my mind recently.
Central and Eastern Europe remain extraordinary places for shoe lovers. Lately, shoemakers have refined in the Eastern Europe, the price-quality ratio being very good. We keep forgetting a lot that many of the high-end products sold in the shops from Western Europe come, for instance, from Romania. So when you wear a pair of Saint Crispin’s, when you buy a Louis Vuitton bag or when you wear gloves from peccary leather, remember that these were made in the Eastern Europe, more precisely in Romania (Saint Crispin’s in Brasov, Louis Vuitton in Cisnadie or the gloves producer in Targu-Mures). In the case of Maftei, although the studio is located in Vienna, his connection with Piatra-Neamt from Romania is still a very strong one.
Lately the quantity of lies in the industry field increased considerably. Maybe that explains also the recent post of Justin FitzPatrick, regarding the myriad of tricks of shoe salesmen. It is an article that should be read by anyone tempted by the more and more aggressive commercials, and Justin deserves congratulations for attempting to clear out the fog.
Somebody asked me in the past month in a private message what names I favor and what names I didn’t recommend. I am loyal to Anglo-Saxon shoemaking but I also have a southern coup de foudre for Carmina. A clear RTW top, in my opinion, would be Edward Green, Crockett&Jones and Carmina.
If global warming tends to kill boots, a boot model which I’d wear even in 25°C is Edward Green’s Newmarket. To me that is the most representative Chelsea boot model, and I’d introduce it in EG’s top 3 models, after Galway and of course after the iconic Dover.
One of the unpleasant surprises of this winter is Meermin. I’ve seen a pair of shoes produced by them and I was very disappointed. In the end there is a reason for which the prices are so low, and that is the low quality and the approximate quality control. Meermin should be avoided, at least these days.
One of the most comfortable pairs of shoes that I’m intensely wearing and that continue to amaze me in a pleasant manner are made at Sandor Rozsniay. As much as I am disappointed by Meermin, I am equally delighted by my Hungarian shoes. If you’re considering a Hungarian pair as your next one, there is no way you could fail with Roszniay.
Someone asked me to make a list with the shoes that tempt me this winter. I will do that soon. I don’t know how my own preferences can be of any help, but I console myself with the fact that I can, at least, serve as an inspiration in your searches.
“Do you really need bespoke shoes? Are they worth it?” Strictly speaking, no. But I find it petty to calculate everything in terms of advantageousness. Even for this reason alone I will remain a fan of bespoke. In the end, bespoke details are pretexts for justifying my choice. Bespoke is more of an incursion (sometimes extraordinary, other times disappointing) in the miracle which is human creativity.
Casa Fagliano updated their website and launched a brand new RTW collection. The shoes are Goodyear welted. An interesting model is their Dover, named derby 23010 in dark brown grained calf. More about the direction in which they are heading in my next interview with German Fagliano. (German’s first interview for Claymoor’s List can be read here).