Barre et Brunel

Some summer thoughts and a pleasant surprise from Hong Kong.

I was passing the other day through the center of the city and I noticed in a showcase the ad for a suit maker. If I were to go by what it said, everything was hand-made, personalized for the body of every buyer. Of course it was only a marketing trick, but this sort of false publicity tends to become annoying. Fifty years ago it was difficult for a tailor to have a studio in a central area if he wasn’t truly good. No everything is seen more or less from the point of view of the turnover. But this brand oriented type of thinking transforms even decent people from the industry. People who, until yesterday felt comfortable in the posture of suit sellers, now appear with scissors in their hands or even sewing buttonholes. Of course they aren’t taken seriously by the connoisseurs, but even mocked by them, however, for a less competent person, that guy is a tailor.1U0A1590
The story is beginning to be more important than the product. But the recipe is used even by bigger houses when they go from one generation to another. When the father cannot work in the studio anymore, the son takes over the business, but quite often, protected by the work and the good name of the father, the son hasn’t gone to the studio. Suddenly though, he discovers that he must continue the story. So, previously advised by a PR, he proceeds to a makeover of his own image. You see the young man, who only yesterday only came to the studio to greet his father, now making lasts. Where on earth he learnt to make lasts I couldn’t say. However, when the photos are taken unprofessionally, you can see his hands with an impeccable manicure.
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The case of a Viennese shoemaker, supplier for the Imperial Court, whose heir with roman name appears in photos while looking at lasts with a Tom Cruise sort of gaze, is entirely charming. Nevertheless, the story goes on, even if in the present it belongs to the fantasy genre. In reality, the story sells, so we should pay more attention even when the story is beautiful. In shoemaking, those who make their entrance on the market beautify the story more by omission than by modifying the reality. The leather is presented as being French, without indicating the exact origin or without specifying exactly the place where it I produced.  Some French tanneries are good  others are bad…1U0A1604
Despite all this, the idiosyncrasies regarding the fact that the shoes are made outside Europe should disappear. In the end, it doesn’t matter where they are made as long as you are satisfied with the quality. The Asian brands will be a significant competition in the future. The online presentation is very good, if we consider the fact that certain companies with tradition have only now created decent website.1U0A1601
Aside that, the attention for details is at maximum level. Take for example Barre et Brunel. Their shoes are made in Spain. They have a dozen available models, but those are carefully chosen. I was a bit circumspect regarding the quality, considering the fact that I had an unpleasant experience once with a pair of shoes made in Spain for a by now famous brand. When I saw that there were also patina models, I raised my brow. The common patinas are usually executed in a sloppy manner. Italians are masters in making horrible patinas for cheap shoes.1U0A1587
Nevertheless, when I saw the shoes in person, I was pleasantly surprised. I am not an expert in patinas, but at least I can say that B&B patinas are very neat. You have below the photos so that you can judge that for yourselves. I liked them. I appreciate Etienne Brunel at least for two things: the fact that he manages to obtain a good quality from a Spanish factory (which is not easy; the Spanish have the tendency to work badly if you don’t keep your eyes on them) and because he has classic models that look very fresh. Enjoy the photos and remember that, sometime, pleasant surprises can be just around the (Asian) corner.
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