RTW Shoemakers

medwards

Honored Professor | Moderator, All Forums
jcusey said:
[*] -- St. Crispin's is based in Vienna, although both their bespoke shoes and their RTW shoes are made in Romania. From the descriptions on their website, these are handmade shoes; and I like the look of them very much. The last shapes are Central European, with high walls at the toe; but they're more elegant than, say, Vass's traditional lasts (not F, U, and P2 -- think Peter or 3636) or Dinkelacker's.

This linked discussion -- and accompanying illustration of St. Crispin's ready-to-wear shoes -- may be of value to those seeking additional information about this shoemaker.
 

Trommel

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
No mention of Tim Little?

I understand that he's now a marketing consultant to Grenson, and that his "Blue Sole" range is, or was at least, manufactured by the Alfred Sargent factory.

I have a pair of wholecuts from the "Black Sole" line which so far appear, to my untutored eye, to be of reasonable quality and construction for the on-sale price I paid (although the slightly inconsistent way they've creased on each foot eats away at my very being every time I put them on). I'm not sure where or by who they're manufactured.

It would also be interesting to view some feedback on the quality of Jeffery West shoes - although there's a slightly rakish, even parvenu, element to their styles, I like some of them.
 

jcusey

Senior Moderator<br>Technical Support
A correspondent tells me that I have failed to mention Magnanni, a Spanish shoe manufacturer. I am not very familiar with this maker, but he tells me that Magnanni is a mid-range producer of (presumably) Blake-constructed shoes. Some of them appear to be very fashion-forward, others relatively classic.
 

LeicaLad

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
A most excellent and informative post. I hesitate to request more work, especially from someone who has done so much work in compiling this post, but.. .

Many of the threads about the better shoes refer to specific lasts with great familiarity. In naming the different lasts upon which specific models have been constructed, I can practically see the heads nodding with shared insights regarding the feel and fitting brought by the choice of lasts.

Unfortunately, for those of us seeking to learn, I see those heads tilted quizzically in wonder. I have yet to find any thread that speaks about the specificities and idiosyncrasies of lasts, in general or specifically.

What would be really helpful for the learners here would either be citations for which books and publications provide the best primers on lasts choices, OR the building of a new thread on the matter.

My suggestion for a thread title:

At LAST! The first and last word in shoe lasts.”

It could be pinned as a lasting discussion...

Just MHO. Thank you, again, for the many informative threads.
 

ScarpeDiem

Starting Member
Facts on Bonora

I believe that Bonora, who makes some terrific English styled Italian shoes, is returning to the US market this year. They do mainly goodyear construction with some Norvegese. I would put them a notch below the Kiton and Lattanzi tier as far as workmanship (on par with Mantellassi), and the styling is a bit more like Kiton. Prices are similar to EG and JL if I remember correctly.

Bonora in fact tried to come back to the U.S. Market, however with no real strength. It is a well made shoe. Most styles are Good year construction some are blake, beautiful styling. The have not put any effort into entering the U.S. market , no advertisment, no P.R. , No website. Just another expensive relatively unknown Italian shoe. They have distribution problems and the fews customers they do have they could not ship ontime. Price is in the $ 800 - $1200 U.S range. Quality is equal or slightly less than JL and EG
 

jcusey

Senior Moderator<br>Technical Support
Bonora in fact tried to come back to the U.S. Market, however with no real strength. It is a well made shoe. Most styles are Good year construction some are blake, beautiful styling. The have not put any effort into entering the U.S. market , no advertisment, no P.R. , No website. Just another expensive relatively unknown Italian shoe. They have distribution problems and the fews customers they do have they could not ship ontime. Price is in the $ 800 - $1200 U.S range. Quality is equal or slightly less than JL and EG

If memory serves correctly, the Italian-made shoes that carried a couple of years ago (and for all I know may still carry, although they are no longer shown on the website) were made by Bonora and retailed for around $600.
 

jcusey

Senior Moderator<br>Technical Support
One more:

-- Another of the mid-range Italian brands. Banfi's shoes tend to be a bit flamboyant, either because of the design or because of the leather used. I believe that these shoes are Blake-constructed. The examples that I have seen have been decent shoes, although one can find better-made Blake-constructed shoes for roughly the same price.
 

walterb

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Another Italian Shoe Maker

One of the very best Italian shoemakers in my opinion is Fratelli Rosetti. I have not seen them mentioned here, and was wondering if any others are familiar with them. The styling tends to be conservative in comparison to some of the other high end Italian companies.
 

walterb

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Thanks for the links Medwards. I wear mostly Italian shoes and have considered them among the best. I noticed that someone else posted that they bought them at Filene's basement. I bought 3-4 pairs there over the years at deep discounts. I used to be able to buy many of the high end Italian shoes there but I don't think they get the same quality merchandise there anymore. I bought Testonis, Artiolis, Tanino Crisci, and many, many pairs of Ferragamos there. Except for the Tanino Crisci, I thought the FR were as good or better than any of the others above. I am not very familar with the English shoe makers, but from reading this thread, I would definately like to look into the Edward Greens. I do doubt though that I will find them deeply discounted at Filene's basement.
 

Artisan Fan

Honors Member
I like Italian shoes a lot myself but sometimes it takes some of the more expensive brands to match the durability built into an English shoe. I couldn't imagine living without some of both.
 

fritzl

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
For me one point on the construction, which leads to the durability, is the quite different physiognomy between Italians and Englishmen.

Also the climatic conditions are playing a role in the considerations: How to build an excellent and durable shoe.

As soon as you start comparing with the Austrian-Hungarian styles, which are for quirkier ways not to well represented here. Probably, because they are not detected and discovered yet.You can find as a result of the monarch history beside the traditional classic styles all kind of influences.

If you look at the work of the most famous proponents like Vass, Kiss, Bartkiewicz, Scheer, Materna, Balint or Maftei you find various traces of shoemaking history.
 
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jcusey

Senior Moderator<br>Technical Support
Ron Rider mentioned them earlier in this thread, but here's another brief blurb:

Lidfort -- Another of the bevy of high-quality Italian shoe manufacturers. Lidfort has at least two lines, one consisting of Blake-constructed shoes and the other of Norwegian-constructed shoes. They are not widely-distributed in the US (I've only ever seen them at Barney's). Because they are not widely-known, you can sometimes find very good deals on them on eBay or at Barney's sales. The styling of most of the Lidfort shoes that I have seen has been well within the mainstream of Italian production -- flashier than most of what you find from British manufacturers, but nothing outlandish like what StefanoBi produces.
 

medwards

Honored Professor | Moderator, All Forums
[*]Grenson -- This firm's name is a contraction of "William Green and Son," which suggests that once upon a time there might have been some relationship with Edward Green. I'm not certain. This firm is capable of making very high-quality shoes comparable to C&J Handgrade. Grenson used to sell these "Masterpieces" shoes under their own label. Recently, however, Grenson appears to have fallen on hard times and has ceased selling these shoes except as private-label offerings. It's a pity. They were wonderful shoes. The good news is that Stuart's Choice shoes from Paul Stuart are made to the old Masterpieces standards by Grenson. I have never seen any Grenson shoes from the lower lines (Feathermasters and what not), so I can't comment about the level of quality.

The firm has apparently been undergoing a very significant transformation over the past few years. Purchased by Christian Purslow in 2004, it is being revamped in what the Financial Times terms "the Burberry model" -- eliminating cheap materials and mass produced line, repositioning the company as a fine British heritage brand, and adding a touch of modern styling to its footwear.
 

jcusey

Senior Moderator<br>Technical Support
The firm has apparently been undergoing a very significant transformation over the past few years. Purchased by Christian Purslow in 2004, it is being revamped in what the Financial Times terms "the Burberry model" -- eliminating cheap materials and mass produced line, repositioning the company as a fine British heritage brand, and adding a touch of modern styling to its footwear.

From looking at the Grenson website, it looks like they have collapsed their plethora of lines into just two: the Rose collection and the Rushden range. I believe that they also still produce shoes for Paul Stuart, including the Stuart's Choice line, which are excellent shoes. Just based on prices, I would expect that the Rose collection shoes would be made maybe on the same level of main-line C&J shoes. Has anybody seen them? The Financial Times article gives me hope, but the fact that they no longer appear to make Masterpieces shoes (the construction level for the Stuart's Choice shoes) for anyone but Paul Stuart leaves me a bit suspicious of how this change will impact Grenson's overall quality.
 

RJman

Elite Member
From looking at the Grenson website, it looks like they have collapsed their plethora of lines into just two: the Rose collection and the Rushden range. I believe that they also still produce shoes for Paul Stuart, including the Stuart's Choice line, which are excellent shoes. Just based on prices, I would expect that the Rose collection shoes would be made maybe on the same level of main-line C&J shoes. Has anybody seen them? The Financial Times article gives me hope, but the fact that they no longer appear to make Masterpieces shoes (the construction level for the Stuart's Choice shoes) for anyone but Paul Stuart leaves me a bit suspicious of how this change will impact Grenson's overall quality.

Tim Little has been brought in as a celebrity designer for Grenson's lines. They are finally getting more coverage in men's magazines. Not saying if that is a good thing or a bad one.

As to Grenson Masterpieces: Are they still making the shoes for Hield? The Japanese-market Henry Maxwell shoes were Grenson Masterpieces as well (those sold in the UK are not). And while New & Lingwood has been switching to Italian production for some of its St. James' shoes, a few of the models on the website are still Masterpieces.
 

meister

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Fratellis

One of the very best Italian shoemakers in my opinion is Fratelli Rosetti. I have not seen them mentioned here, and was wondering if any others are familiar with them. The styling tends to be conservative in comparison to some of the other high end Italian companies.

I agree entirely based on 20 years experience and they are sold in the top end stores Down Under like Henry Bucks.
 
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