We live in a world were small, little-known shoemakers have to be skilled in using social media channels in hopes of ever reaching a wider audience outside their home country or even home town. Easily put they don’t have the necessary financial capacity to advertise their products in any other way. Two well-known success stories are Saint Crispin’s and J. FitzPatrick Footwear.The first has produced top quality shoes in Transylvania since the 90’s but it was not until renowned shoe stores like Leather Soul and Leffot not to mention The Armoury started promoting them through their well-established social media channels that they reached International success. Before this they were almost unknown outside of Austria and Germany.
J. FitzPatrick Footwear is a newly established company that has taken a different route to reach a wider audience even though this has also been done through social media channels. Justin FitzPatrick is mainly known through his vastly popular blog The Shoe Snob; a source of inspiration to many of us who love shoes. Through a very sympathetic personality and a knack for social media marketing he has come from nowhere to found his new brand J. FitzPatrick Footwear. From nowhere is of course an exaggeration, he has trained in Italy to become a shoemaker and has been tutored by Tony Gaziano himself, but it is still a remarkable journey in a very short time. And it has only been possible because of the potential that modern technology presents to us.
On the other side, we also have very skillful shoemakers who seemingly have no interest or no experience how to reach out through these new and extremely powerful channels to meet new clients. A good example is a brand that we at Skoaktiebolaget recently added to our line-up: Enzo Bonafé of Bologna, Italy. Try to find them on Instagram, Tumblr or Twitter. Here are a few other interesting shoemakers that we would like to mention that are hard to find but easy to love.
Antonio Meccariello, Naples
I could not get the English section of Antonio’s website to work so I basically have no background at all to share with you (other than that I now know he fancies saxophone music). Obviously the man is active in Naples, is in his thirties or so and has had some kind of connection with Kiton where I think he used to work before starting up his own business. Meccariello’s models range from sublime to deranged. All shoes are made-to-order. It should be said that Mr. Meccariello is active in social media channels like Tumblr, but he has not yet reached the level of success as above mentioned brands.
Sublime wingtip from Meccariello...
...and on the other hand, deranged boots from Meccariello.
Alexander Maftei is a Romanian born gentleman who immigrated to Vienna as a teenager where he soon found employment at a renowned shoemaker’s workshop. Several decades later has his own workshop and brand and is considered a master at his craft although he is largely unknown to a wider audience. His son Lucian runs a showroom nearby the workshop where you can sample some of Alexander’s work and make appointments for a fitting. The Maftei style runs from sturdy Austro-Hungarian shoes to sleeker models suited for the International client. To my knowledge Maftei does not make ready-to-wear shoes, only bespoke and MTO.
Interesting Balmoral from Maftei
Details of a Maftei bespoke pair
This is another interesting Austrian brand, founded in 1907 and still run by the same family. With Materna Schuhe we’re talking Austro-Hungarian shoes that are built for comfort and a good fit, not maybe so much appeal to an International client or the “sprezz crowd”. It’s very rewarding to see different types of schools of shoemaking even though I personally prefer styles that are a little less sturdy than the classic Materna models I've come across through browsing on the Internet.
Of course, there are many more fine shoemakers that deserve acknowledgement and respect, but I am sure that if you dig deep enough and venture past the #wiwt tags on Instagram and the Tumblr posts that have been shared over a thousand times I’m sure you will find them. They are waiting for you deep down, at the bottom of some thread in StyleForum or AskAndy that has not been posted in since 2008. Or maybe, just maybe, you will find them someday at Skoaktiebolaget.
Written by Patrik, founder and manager of Skoaktiebolaget.
Note: pictures were found on various places on the internet, please drop us a line if you own the copyright and wish to remove the pictures.