Monday, 6 February 2017

Mario Minardi and their Hand Painted range - My observations

The shoes you see here are made by Indonesian shoe manufacturer Mario Minardi. They have been making shoes since 1982 and I remember seeing their shoes at departmental stores in Kuala Lumpur since the early 2000s. They've come a long way actually. Back then the shoes offered here were mainly blake stitched and cemented (glued) but the lasts (or shape) of the shoes were nicely slim and elongated. Some were a bit fashion forward but I saw the company had some potential.

I suppose that potential has been slightly realised these couple of years mainly because they have now expanded their Goodyear Welted range (by offering more of it here in Malaysia and around South East Asia since I saw their shoes in Ho Chih Minh) and are offering something called the Handpainted range of shoes.

I have to apologise for the photos as I had to take them with my phone. But you can see what has gone into the shoes especially this blue one above and below. What you are getting for a very affordable RM699 (at Isetan, the Gardens) before any discounts (usually these go on 20% when Isetan has a sale) is a quite a  nice looking pair of shoes. 

These handpainted range comes with Goodyear Welting. I also believe that it also comes with the simple Blake stitch soles (which I like as it is actually easier to resole here in Malaysia - no cobbler I know here does repairs on GYW shoes). The overall finish of the stitching seems decent enough. I usually am not fussy about stitching but more about leather and how much hand finishing is involved.

In terms of leather quality, you are not getting the best stuff. Well, it is RM699 retail. Whilst it isn't corrected grain, but proper calfskin, it feels a little on the thin side. It feels looser and slightly spongy to the touch. Still acceptable as the overall construction of the shoe is very Italian. It feels lightweight and dainty. Nothing English about the construction whatsoever. Even the Goodyear Welted Soles seem slimmer and narrow waisted. A very Italian thing. I actually like these sort of shoes considering our hot and humid climate where a lighter shoe make more sense than wearing heavy shoes that wear you down.

As for the hand finishing, it looks a little too forced on some of the shoes - the blue one especially. It looks like the handiwork is more airbrushed than natural. Maybe it is. Maybe not. But it looks a little forced and not like it came naturally. The brown one in the first photo looks a lot better but again, after taking a proper look at my photos there is a lack of depth in the colouring. A hit and a miss I think. A hit because they allow us to buy patina shoes which are well put together at a reasonable price (here in South East Asia) but a miss because it looks a little too forced.

 I have to say that Mario Minardi's effort isn't on par with what shoemakers are doing over in Vietnam (which is mind blowingly good these days - no need to buy from Europe or even Japan for proper shoes anymore) there is some effort to improve Indonesian shoemaking. Prior to this, there were very little hand patina shoes offered by Indonesian makers. Even the famed Bandung shoemaker Fortuna Shoes, who export using the name Jln Sriwijaya to Japan, does not hand colour/patina its shoes. 

Indonesia seems to be full of shoemakers who emulate Alden or the sort which makes longwing brogues and lots of boots. The local market seems to want that so I do not blame the path chosen. It is more Filson than Frank Clegg if you want an analogy. Or more Toyota LandCruiser than Range Rover. Ruggedness rules the Indonesian shoe market. So Mario Minardi is an exception in many ways with its slim looking shoes. I would give their shoemakers a couple more years to fine tune their skills. After which the brand could be a fantastic proposition.

On a personal note, I'd buy them if they're on a discount. What it may need is a proper round of polishing and proper detailing to smoothen out the flow of the colours. I also feel the need to support regional (South East Asian) shoemakers/manufacturers. You see people over in Europe and in USA feeling proud about their products. Why shouldn't we be proud of what our artisans can make locally if the product has reached that certain standard that we are aiming for? Buy a local or regional product and you basically help a local artisan. Isn't that a good thing too?

Hand finished Chelsea boots by Mario Minardi. Not too bad except as I mentioned, the leather seems a little thin and loose to the touch. It is the grade of leather used. Calf, but not first grade calf. But for the same price as the shoes - RM699. They are super value for money. It should last with proper care.

This is a one of their regular range of shoes. Not the hand painted series. Construction is still GYW but you see there is very little patina or handiwork here.

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