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The processes that make artisanal shoes unique

Lavorazione Blake rapida

The artistry of Italian craftsmanship is famous worldwide: there are so many sectors in which Italy excels and stands out from other countries.

Production techniques and work methods are handed down from father to son, generation after generation, giving life to unique products.

In the footwear industry, this wealth of knowledge sustained by generations of craftsmen provides the means to design products which are sold all over the world and are much appreciated for their unique qualities.

A boutique aiming to stand out amid the multitude of shops and looking to draw customers who would otherwise buy online necessarily has to highlight the fruits of Italy’s artisanal legacy and explain what makes Italian craftsmanship truly unique.

What distinguishes a handmade shoe? What makes it unique? How to explain these characteristics to customers and reveal the intrinsic value of your wares?

Let’s find out.


Craftsmanship in a shoe

We start with the selection of the raw material: leather. Every artisanal shoemaker has their own trusted producers and suppliers, who are often based locally. The raw material is where it all starts, and you need to know it inside out.

Choosing the leather and checking its quality goes hand in hand with a process of constant creative research and trend analysis, so that the shoes you make are always original and reflect the market trends.

Then comes the cutting of the leather. This calls for an expert craftsman who knows how to handle the leather without spoiling it, and enhance its properties to the full.

There are also many other steps such as edging, lining, assembling the various parts and then finishing: this last step may involve several different processes that will vary depending on the type of shoe.

An artisanal shoe is the result of many processes (sometimes more than 100) performed by specialised craftsmen with specific know-how. Each step of the manufacturing process undergoes quality control to ensure the success of the finished product.

Understanding the technical skills and various phases of creating a handmade shoe can explain the intrinsic value of the product, and its price, which to the uninitiated might seem rather high.


A few of the processes

Although every artisanal shoemaker’s workshop has its own story, its own peculiarities and of course its own trade secrets that make the product unique and often inimitable, there are certain processes which are frequently used by shoemakers.


Goodyear

This robust, laborious technique owes its name to its inventor Charles Goodyear, who patented the method in 1832. It involves two seams: the first binds the insole to the upper and the welt, while the second binds the welt to the sole. The welt is simply the soft leather running around the perimeter of the shoe.

This particular process is performed entirely by hand, with no external stitching. The result is a strong, extremely high quality shoe that will last.

Goodyear welting is a slow process that requires great skill and specialist expertise.

This type of stitching offers a number of advantages, as it makes the shoe extremely comfortable, yet resistant. Goodyear shoes can be resoled when the sole wears out.


Norwegian

Three rows of stitching are needed to complete this complex process: the first row binds the upper to the insole, the second row, after being turned out, binds the upper to the midsole. Finally, the sole is stitched on, creating a single body.

This makes the shoe strong and most importantly waterproof.


Blake

This work method owes its name to Lyman Reed Blake, the American inventor who in 1858 designed a sewing machine to stitch shoe soles together. The outer sole is stitched directly onto the insole, which gives the shoe greater flexibility and reduces weight.

This technique requires a number of additional steps, but also offers several advantages: the finished shoe is resistant, flexible and comfortable.


Blake Rapid

A variant of the traditional Blake, this method produces a shoe that is practically indestructible. Thanks to its robust, waterproof finish, this method is particularly well-suited to winter footwear. The midsole is stitched to the upper using the classic Blake method, and the outer sole is then joined to the midsole using the Blake Rapid construction technique.

Despite its sturdiness, the shoe is comfortable. This is one of the oldest and most prestigious shoemaking techniques, as it creates an extremely hardwearing shoe that can be resoled.

These are just some of the work methods that distinguish a handmade shoe and make this type of footwear so unique and valuable. Any retailer of artisanal footwear is well aware of its value, and knows they are selling a durable shoe that will last, precisely because of how it was made.

Fratelli Borgioli shoes are the result of a family tradition that started more than 70 years ago in a shoemaker’s workshop in La Stella (Vinci), in the heart of the Florentine countryside.

Each shoe made by Fratelli Borgioli is flawless and comfortable: a true artisanal masterpiece. Traditional Tuscan craftsmanship meets technological innovation to create a shoe that will last the wearer a lifetime.

The styling and formal perfection of our footwear helps to keep alive the world’s passion for a taste of Italy, thanks to a network of selected retailers who share our belief in beauty and quality.

If you would like to become one of our retailers, please contact us or fill out the form.

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