How are Barbanera shoes made?
We use the classic/standard handmade Goodyear welting process. We’ve been using only first quality leathers for both calf and suede so far. All the materials are 100% made in Italy, from the best tanneries in the country. Even the lining is made of first quality leather. We utilize “vendome” suede, it is a very soft and light kind of suede, it’s amazing, especially for loafers and slippers. For calf, we usually use full grain calf, soft and resistant in the same time. But we’re always looking for new materials and solutions in order to improve our shoes and give the best possible to our customers. All the shoes are made by artisans located in Tuscany. The glaçage is handmade, as well as the colouration.
Could you please review the most emblematic Barbanera shoes?
Well for sure one of the most emblematic models is the “Gatsby” model. It’s our first spectator shoe. It’s one of our best-sellers. We think it got successful because of the combination of colors and materials and because of its general look and shape. Maybe the most emblematic variant is the one in green canvas and brown leather. Our Gatsby is a little different from other spectator shoes because I think it is more “modern” without being “too fashion”. It has a “lighter” look, more essential, it doesn’t look “heavy”, it fits very tight but it keeps a classic and in the same time dandy look. You can wear them with suits or jeans, in winter or summer. It doesn’t look old but vintage. It’s very cool but, as I said, not fashion. Alone, it really can change your outfit. You can wear them with a pair of jeans and a simple tshirt.
Other emblematic models are the Ruskin boots, biker inspired but also very dandy and cool, it’s like the boot version of the Gatsby. We really like the suede/calf version, it’s very “Rock’n'roll”. These boots have strong personality, they fit tight also on the ankle, they’re perfect also for skinny jeans or trousers.
And for sure our Hemingway loafers. We have different variants for the loafers, with/without tassels, colours, materials. The loafer is a shoe very difficult to make, we worked a lot to find the right solutions for every single part of the shoe in terms of sizing, harmony, fitting.
We just finished designing and making the new version of “Kerouac”, the laced boots. They’re gonna have success, they’re very very beautiful.
Tell me more about MTO service? Are all models available for MTO?
Yes, till now we mainly sold shoes following the “made to order” logic. Clients could choose model, colours and materials, and combinations of them, for every single model in the collection. We offered this chance without increasing prices, the price is usually the same with the one of a ready to wear model, except for some particular leathers or colors. This allowed us to satisfy customers that wanted to have customized and unique personal high quality shoes without spending 1.000 Euros. Now we’re going in the shops, we’re going to make our first sales campaign to sell shoes in shops. So, people will find ready to wear shoes, but we’ll keep our made to order service in our showroom.
What are your favorite models and why?
We love the Gatsby model, for the motivations we already wrote, and also because they’re sophisticated and dandy. It expresses our soul and our style. It’s a “pirate” shoe! Don’t forget “Barbanera” means “Black Beard” in English. And the Ruskin boots. Sergio is an ankle boots maniac, from 60′s style till now. Ruskin fit amazing, so tight, it’s a “bad boy” shoe but in the same time elegant and classy. You can wear Ruskin to ride your motorcycle or with a suit in a very informal way. Filippo loves the Sperelli model, so “British”, it’s amazing in bicolor or in suede/calf, as well as the Hemingway loafers.
How can we tell the difference between a good quality shoe and poor quality shoe?
A good shoe is beautiful and good. Ancient Greeks talked about “Kalos kai Agathos” or “Kalokagathia”, the possession of the beautiful and the good. “Kalos” means “good”, “Agathos” beautiful. It was a concept that Greek writers used for people, for men, but I think it’s something we could use even for objects. A shoe is not something you just use for walking. Not our shoes. Otherwise we would all go around wearing very comfortable sneakers.
So they have to be “beautiful”, they’ve got to have the right proportions and symmetry, the right look and shape, but they also have to be comfortable, durable, they have to express something about the man that wears them. We have our personal tastes, obviously. For example, we don’t like “stocky” shoes. The details, well, they’re so important. Quality is also in the single detail. The inside part of the shoe, the sole, the material used for the heel. The laces, how the shoe is refined, everything is important to make a shoe a good quality shoe.