San­toni

For An­drea San­toni and his son Giuseppe, lux­ury is an at­ti­tude and it’s the way we all ought to live. Through their brand, they’re lead­ing a stylish re­volt against mass-pro­duced uni­for­mity.

Bespoke - - THE CONTENTS -

San­toni make shoes. Per­haps best known for their men’s lines – al­though since 2005, they have been mak­ing shoes for women, too – they oc­cupy an in­ter­est­ing niche, some­where be­tween the ar­ti­sanal and the in­dus­trial. They’re also 100 per cent made in Italy – in a stun­ning eco-friendly fac­tory on the rolling plains be­neath the sun-kissed sand­stone walls of the medieval hill­top town of Mac­er­ata. It was here, in 1975, a time of tight white suits, polyester bell-bot­toms and plung­ing male neck­lines, that An­drea San­toni planted his flag. Turn­ing his back on the mass pro­duc­tion, uni­sex styling and one­size-fits-all men­tal­ity of the era, he em­barked in­stead on what other shoe­mak­ers told him was a fool’s er­rand; the cre­ation of hand­crafted, made-to-mea­sure footwear. So far, I hear you say, so what? Be­spoke shoe­mak­ing may be on the wane but it’s hardly un­heard of. What re­ally set San­toni aside was not An­drea’s be­lief in hand­craft­ing, it was his de­sire to find a way to com­bine made-to-mea­sure with ready-to-wear. Af­ter a few years of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, the re­sult was what San­toni PR head, Glo­ria Biribei calls the “in­dus­tri­alised hand­made” shoe. “Machin­ery is used, but the pro­duc­tion line is con­trolled man­u­ally and the shoes are hand-fin­ished,” she ex­plains, “What’s im­por­tant to us is not how long it takes to make a pair of shoes but the qual­ity with which they are made.” Un­like the vast ma­jor­ity of English shoe­mak­ers, San­toni shoes are painted rather than bur­nished or dyed in the leather. And un­like most French and Ital­ian com­pa­nies, the paint­ing is done slowly and in­di­vid­u­ally. It is this care that cre­ates the depth of colour that makes San­to­nis so easy to spot. What’s more, on the tech­ni­cal side, San­toni will of­ten in­clude things like skele­ton stitches, where the thread can just be seen push­ing against the sur­face, or hid­den seams, where they don’t show at all. Some English boot­mak­ers do use such tech­niques, but they make a song and dance about it, claim­ing this to be the pin­na­cle of their know-how. For San­toni though, these and other com­plex­i­ties are just par for the course. Then there’s the di­ver­sity of mod­els and wide range of colours avail­able for each style that re­ally dif­fer­en­ti­ates the brand – from fringed sum­mer slip-ons to camo-pat­terned suede monks. Very few Euro­pean shoe­mak­ers of­fer such a com­bi­na­tion of fash­ion and tra­di­tional shoe­mak­ing. Fi­nally, there's the fact that San­toni never rests on its heels (as it were). The col­lec­tions are con­stantly be­ing re-worked and re­designed, re­gard­less of how well they sold the first time around and this is be­cause the San­to­nis be­lieve they can al­ways be bet­ter. “We don’t do this be­cause we want to make more money, we do this be­cause we want to guar­an­tee our clients the best pos­si­ble prod­uct,” Giuseppe San­toni con­cludes. “Our qual­ity is our in­sur­ance. Most of our clients are friends of other clients. Once you go San­toni, you don’t go back.”

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