One series of articles that’s present on Shoegazing is this one called Italigente Uncovered, where I let you follow the work “behind the scenes” at a Swedish/Italian shoe brand called Italigente that I’m working extra for, and also come with input to us in different ways. In this first article (it’s nr. 3 on the Swedish site, and since the articles in will align I decided to start of at that number here too to not confuse things too much going forward) you will get a brief story about the brand, see a resole work on a pair of our shoes, get news regarding new models, and also give your input on which models we should go for to put in production next year.
I’ve been working extra for Italigente since the beginning of the year, both with the brands communications as well as development of production and new models. The purpose of Italigente Uncovered is to both to let you, readers as well as customers, take part in and have a greater understanding of the work of a quality shoe brand, but also to make you part of the development of the company in different ways and allow us to share your knowledge and opinions.
It is not unusual for both shoe manufacturers and other companies showcasing samples of new models, show parts of the manufacturing process and so on. Sometimes they also ask for input regarding for example new products. What we want to do at Italigente however, is to take this a whole lot longer. You will take part of large parts of what is happening around the brand and things we’re working on (at least stuff that can be reasonably interesting), and as mentioned, we also want you to be part in decisions about things. Sometimes we ask direct questions, but you are more than welcome to come with input on everything along the way. You might call it shoe democracy, or product democracy, or something like that.
A brief history about the brand for those who aren’t familiar with it. Italigente was founded in 2007 by Magnus Ericson, a Swede who is the third generation in the shoe trade, who has spent his whole life working with shoes in different ways. Over 10 000 pairs has been sold through the years, both in Sweden and internationally, with a high customer satisfaction. For example Italigente has retailed at the World Footwear Gallery in Japan, at Van Lock in Belgium, at Breuninger in Germany, and so on. At the beginning of this year the Swedish shoe company Kavat, where Magnus now is CEO, took over the ownership of Italigente, and this spring the brand was relaunched and steps are taken to develop it even further. Italigente’s shoes are made in a garage in the town Montegranaro in Italy’s largest shoe district Marche, by a man named Claudio Marini and his daughter Deborah and son Giancarlo. Some elements of the production, like stitching the uppers and lasting, is made in nearby villages. The shoes are made using the Blake/Rapid construction, making them easily resolable in exactly the same way as a Goodyear welted shoe. Calf leathers from the well renowned tannerie’s D’Annonay in France and Ilcea in Italy are use, and suede from British Charles F. Stead and the Italian tannery Opera. The brown shades are hand painted to receive a deep antiqueing. The shoes retail for €425. We have retailers in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Alingsås and Oslo at the moment, and are looking to expand with retailers internationally again soon. The shoes can also be purchased at Italigentes website, where we offer free international shipping and where the high Swedish VAT is automatically deducted for orders outside the EU.
Later this week I will post an article showing how a pair of Italigente is made, so it will be sort af Italigente week here on the English version of Shoegazing. In the future these Italigente articles will only come along once a month at the most, so it won’t be a blog only mentioning Italigente all the time. I feel that I can give more good content and get more informed myself in the world of shoes through my work at Italigente, and I hope that you readers also will feel that it adds more than destroys.
So, on to the content of this article.
Report on a resole
Italigente’s shoes are as mentioned Blake/Rapid-stitched, a construction method that just as the welted shoes allows for easy resoling. To give a little more understanding of how such is done (and in large part it is identical to how an ordinary resole of Goodyear-welted shoe is made) we took a four-five year old and very well used pair air of Firenze Ricetta, who also hadn’t got the love and care they deserve, to the cobbler Bäckmans Skoservice in Stockholm who also sells Italigente, for a half resole and change of heels. Here is the shoes before work began:
The cobbler who took care of these Firenze’s is Peter Holmér, who has worked as a cobbler since 1978 and together with his colleague Peter Aglo owns Bäckmans. He begins by taking the new soles and marks on the shoes how far back it will sit, and thus how far back he will grind the sole. He also pulls off the lower part of the heel with a large plier.
There are different schools in how to cut the sole stitch, some for example goes in from the side with a knife, but Peter Holmér grinds down the seam and sole at the edge of it. In a Blake/Rapid stitched shoe there’s a midsole directly under the outsole, which the sole stitch is sewn in, and which in turn is secured to the upper and insole with the Blake stitch. As this pair had been worn so long that it ripped a hole and started to wear even on the midsole Peter had to grind some on this as well, and when he also grinded a bit on the Blake stitching, so therefore this had to be redone as well. It’s a bit similar to when you wear down the welt on a welted shoe and have to change that, and then also have to redo the welt seam. Normally, however, it’s just the sole stitch which is cut off and replaced when resoling, plus on Goodyear-welted shoes possibly some cork filling.
Thereafter a new Blake stitch is sewn, and it’s only made in the front half of the shoe. On a Blake/Rapid shoe, a regular Blake stitched one for that matter, the Blake seam goes all the way around the shoe. Since Peter only needed to grind down the seam a bit at the forepart, it is only where it is exchanged too, and the seam is sewn so it overlaps a little at the beginning and end of old seam to make it adhere properly.
The new outsole is skived at the bottom of the piece that is to the waist side, it is done in a so-called skiving machine. The sole is sanded a bit to increase adherence. Thereafter glue is applied on both the outsole and the midsole, it is allowed to dry for 20-30 minutes before a new layer is applied on, new drying time, then the sole is pressed.
The shoe is then set in a press which has an air-filled cushion that evenly distributes the pressure over the whole sole. Then you go over it with a hammer, before the excess of the sole is cut away. This is done only roughly, later in the process he will grind the edge of the sole smooth and nice again. What is done directly is to smooth the transition between the new sole and the old sole at the waist.
Most common when making a resole at a cobbler is to do it with an open channel, it is quicker and therefore cheaper. Then you millout a channel to which the stitch is made. In this case we however did a closed channel sole. Peter Holmér cut a lip by hand with a knife, and then carves out a channel of seam under the lip. Then you stitch the sole in a sole stitching machine.
Then Peter brush the channel with glue before working it down in several steps: at first only with his hands, then with the hammer handle and finally hammering it. For sole to be perfectly even, it’s partly about that you carv out a good sized channel, but also about the right process afterwards when working the leather smooth and clean.
Thereafter, the shoes rest until the next day, since the glue needs to dry before proceeding to finishing the sole. Then you also attach a new bottom piece at the heel, which you have pre-made with the rubber back part and rest leather. It’s glued the same way as the sole, with two layers of glue and dry time between, before the shoes are put in a press. Then you sand the sole and heel edges, add edge paint which also i worked in with a hot iron. Sole and heel bottom is also grinded with fine sandpaper, and Bäckmans then paint the heel and waist. Then their job is done.
I then put in shoe trees in them and gave them a couple of rounds of pigmented shoe cream and then polish, and as apparent below the shoes are now in much nicer condition than before.
Any day now the first three of a total of seven new models in our autumn collection will be available in Italigentes online store. There is a black wholecut that is made on the soft chiseled 29-last, with single leather sole. Also a new version of the plain toe cap oxford Orsole on the new classic round last 15, which is made in the painted dark brown shade Mogano, also this with single leather sole. And a full brogue derby in the light brown hand painted color Castagna, this on the new sturdier last 08 and a double Dainite sole and storm welt, a real autumn shoe. The price level will remain as before at €425 for the shoes, boots will be at €455. In these new models, we have a little better insole than before, we have replaced the thin latex piece that was between the insole and midsole of a thin layer of cork, and we also have the single leather sole made with a slightly bevelled waist.
In early October, three other new models will drop. Then it’s an updated version of the split toe derby Biella who also is on the new 15 last in the shade Mogano, and with a new thin rubber city sole. It has been a bit of a struggle in the production with some details of the work with the new sole, but hopefully it will be resolved shortly and it’s completed production by October. There will also be a chelsea boot, Stoccolma II, again in the hand painted dark brown Mogano on last 15, with a single Dainite rubber sole. Additionally, a so-called jumper boot called Viterbo in a medium brown grain leather with double Dainite sole and storm welt is launched, perfect for tough winter weather.
The observant counts three plus three to six new models, not seven. And that’s because the last one is a black plain cap toe oxford manufactured in Serbia. We had plans to launch a new line of affordable budget quality shoes made in a Serbian factory (it’s been written about this in Italigente Uncovered articles previously published on the Swedish version of Shoegazing). Unfortunately, this will be the only model from Serbia that we launch, since it did not work with the factory down there that would make shoes for Italigente. It was above all that they couldn’t do things on time (this shoe for example would be launched this past spring, and we still haven’t received it). It’s a bit sad that an entry-level range made on Balkan didn’t work out, but we rather leave it now at this early point instead of wrestling with messed up production for a long time.
However, we still want to get an entry line with good shoes in a lower price point, so we look for other opportunities now, both in the Balkans but also in Asia. We’ll see what happens.
Normally the new models forthe Spring/Summer 2016 season would be done now, but since the relaunch of Italigente was launched first in the spring after Kavats takeover of the brand (the most recent time before the brand’s business was on a bit of a low, after having been as most active between 2008-2012), so we are a little behind. Therefore, we are in the middle of the work on next year’s summer season stuff, and we therefore thought we should take some help from your readers to what we should go for. Now Italigente is not a manufacturer that replace the whole collection for every season, it’s rather like now for the autumn where we come up with a few new models that complement a more or less permanent range, still keeping this selection updated with maybe some models added to the permanent selection and others removed.
We have previously had help from Shoegazing’s Swedish readers choosing a medallion that we will begin using next year, and we will do this review of new models in the same voting format as we did then. Below are some images and descriptions where I tryi to explain the various options, so you get an idea of them. You are then more than welcome to place a vote on thich of the models you would like to see in Italigente’s collection next year, and also you can give more input in the comment field below if you like. First, it is the regular Blake/Rapid stitched shoes made with the Marini in Italiy, then the next season guest where we this year had an espadrilles, and we want to run on a similar simpler constructed summer shoe next year as well.
And the summer guest options: