Sunday, 29 July 2012

Patina & Why Cheap Italian Shoes Are Useful

This is a pair of shoes made by Andrea Cammelli, one of the million or so shoe makers in Italy. I've decided to give it a new lease of life with a bottle of Cutex nail polish remover, leather conditioner, shoe cream and polish.

Actually, I wanted to experiment a little on it. As I mentioned earlier I got this pair of shoes at a bargain. RM150.00 at Tangs down from its original list price of around RM500.00. Typically Italian budget brown shoes with glued/stuck on construction (which I've added a thin slice of Vibram to the sole and heel so that it'll be a perfect beater work shoe for me and the Malaysian weather). It also had a full leather lined upper but it has that sliightly square toed look to it. Not like those ridiculously square toed crap. Almost, but with the elongated shape of the last it is wearable with a pair of slim cut trousers.

The brown leather of this cheap pair of shoes is typically Italian. Thin, and well, cheap feeling. Not substantial like some of the other shoes I have but not as thin as those glove leather shoes that Italians seem to use most of the time. Anyway, I think they made this shoe using polish instead of dye. So I resorted to cutex to get rid of the polish in a few strategic spots. Rubbing harder in those spots which you want it to be lighter and lightly rubbing the parts you want it to retain some darker shade on the leather. After that, condition the leather using leather conditioner, then a layer or two of shoe cream (in light brown, mid brown and dark brown) and then a layer of dark brown polish.

I must say it somehow worked for me. The shoe with new waxed laces looked a million times better than the tired old look. More patina/antiquing making it look slightly more special to wear. And the investment was basically a bottle of cutex and some time to kill.

Not bad for a first time effort eh? And this is why a cheap pair or three of Italian shoes come in handy.

Update: The shoe gets another rework three years on. Read it here folks.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

The Reason I Fancy Italian Shoes A Tad More....

...than English ones is the fact that they're slightly decadent, slightly over the top and slightly flamboyant. I do have a few pairs of English made ones, but these days, every time I end up buying a new pair of shoes it ends up being Italian.

Take this pair of StefanoBi. It may seem like a typical pair of dark brown brogues, but the madness is in the details. The antiquing, while not as rich as the ones on the pair of Santoni I featured earlier is quite good. The shoelaces have a little knot at the end instead of crimped plastic makes it a tad more playful than the usual straight laced brogue. And then we get to the sole of the shoe....Or soul of the shoe.

Now this is usually a place where no one would actually see, but it still is beautifully embellished.  The sole is dyed/coloured a nice brown/green. It basically is patina for the sole of the shoe. The narrowest part of the shoe has a fiddled (or beveled) waist and is beautiful to look at. I have to apologise for the photo as I am couldn't find the correct angle to capture this detail. Anyway, add some strategically placed nails to the front and on the heel and everything comes together (It's those the little details) and the final outcome is pure decadence. Well maybe not as decadent as some other shoes out there. A Silvano Lattanzi or a Branchini (who used to own StefanoBi before selling it off to LVMH) comes to mind for something totally outrageous. Or if we add the French custom patinaed shoes  .....hmmm. But these would cost a kidney or a leg in this part of the world.

 Of course there are those that say Italian shoes aren't as well constructed as some British goodyear welted ones (these are Blake stiched) and may not last as long. But one cannot help but indulge in some flair as you only live once. So who cares if it does not last 285 years or so. It will look stunning for at least 15 years which is quite a decent time for a pair of shoes, like this pair of Bruno Magli monkstraps that are a part of a larger, non-weekly shoe rotation lineup of mine. 

In fact they could last another decade or so. One can never have too many shoes.


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