Just the other day the Australian webshop House of Agin opened up its digital doors, offering really affordable hand welted shoes by the Chinese maker Mattina. Prices start at only €360 including lasted shoe trees and free shipping worldwide.
Behind House of Agin is long time shoe aficianado Andrew Gong, based in Sydney, Australia, who starts the journey with offering GMTO and MTO shoes from the Chinese maker Mattina. The factory making Mattina, located outside Shanghai, has made welted shoes for various Japanese brands since 1994. A while back they brought in bespoke shoemaker Ruoda Zhao, who has trained at and worked for Stefano Bemer in Italy, and also finished 12th in the first World Championships in Shoemaking 2018. He has been leading the work with developing the factory’s own brand: Mattina. Now House of Agin are the first to make the brand accessible widely.
What I really appreciate with House of Agin and their collaboration with Mattina is their communication. They are very open with the fact that while these are hand welted shoes with closed channel soles (I’ve seen shoes made by the factory in Japan, it’s clean and solid making) and materials from famous tanneries like Annonay and Charles F. Stead, they have done compromises. Things like machine stitched outsoles, celastic toe stiffeners and leather board heel stiffeners (instead of real leather), etc. At this price, you can’t make the best shoes in the world, but to explain what they have focused on and where they’ve compromised is very fair, and wish more brands would be this open.
As a start they offer a number of MTO models priced at €410 ($490) with 4-6 weeks delivery, plus a very interesting GMTO split toe model, with hand stitched piecrust apron and toe seam, at only €360 ($430). This is including free worldwide shipping, and if ordered before October 31, lasted shoe trees. Really impressive. For a small upcharge you can add sunken metal toe taps or rubber topy. Fit is supposed to be true to size, and good comparisons to many well-known brands lasts can be found on the site as guidance. I believe plan is to stock RTW models later on. Clearly an interesting new player on the market.