Every woman knows that an outfit wouldn’t be complete without the right pair of shoes. The pair you can always turn to no matter the occasion. And besides complementing your outfit, that pair should also be comfortable and durable so you can go about your day with ease whether you’re at the office or at a cocktail party. You don’t want to invest in a rubbish pair of shoes that falls apart when it’s not even your third time wearing them.
That is why it is important to take the time and look for high-quality shoes that are comfortable and stylish at the same time. One such pair that will never let you down are handmade Italian shoes for women. Why Italian? Because they provide everything you could ever want in a timeless pair of shoes.
What Makes Italian Shoes so Good?
When you see the label “Made in Italy,” you know you’re looking at a high-quality pair of Italian shoes for women. Yes, the price for these leather shoes might be overwhelming, but you have to remember that there is much more that goes into it since these shoes are handmade, durable, and will last you for a long time.
Also, all the world knows that Italian leather is unlike any other. It’s because it is produced in Italy, where tanneries use a special method of making leather called “vegetable tanning” which distinguishes it from other types of leather competition. Of course, with that and the rich history and knowledge that has been passed from generation to generation, Italian artisans are able to produce the highest quality leather shoes.
A Brief History of Shoemaking in Italy
The iconic process of Italian shoemaking started many years ago in small villages. A local craftsman, who was known as a cordwainer, would create customised footwear for everyone in the community, from the youngest to the oldest. Prior to the invention of tanning leather, the most common materials were animal skins and vegetation. And since one man produced all of the shoes for the community, eventually, he became a master in his field.
While shoemakers all over the world improved their shoe construction techniques, Italian cordwainers remained equally focused on the materials they produced. Despite the fact that each country produced leather from cows, pigs, goats, and so on, Italian leather stood out: it was soft, supple, and richly coloured.
With thousands of years of experience working with leather and its treatment processes, the Italians were able to produce a stunning variety of products, all of the highest quality and mostly handcrafted. The determination and obsession with excellence, combined with many years of artistry, is what led to Italy’s shoemaking expertise.
However, prior to WWI, the Italian shoemaking prestige was only known to Italians. This began to change thanks to pioneers like Guccio Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo. After WWII ended and peace was restored, international audiences began to take notice of Italy’s developing fashion scene. As a result, Italian shoe designers began creating numerous new styles and designs that had never been seen before while maintaining the highest level of quality at the same time. And so, the era of relaxed and elegant footwear began.
One of the reasons Italy dominates the shoemaking industry worldwide even today is because of its unchanging focus on quality. While many manufacturers opt for cheaper and faster alternatives when it comes to leather shoes, the Italians continue their long and rich history by creating handmade leather shoes with the utmost quality.
The Process of Making Italian Leather
Vegetable-tanned leather takes much longer to make than its synthetically treated counterpart. Natural tannins from trees such as quebracho, chestnut, and mimosa are used in the vegetable tanning process. These vegetable tannins are required to keep the leather’s collagen fibres from disintegrating. Thus, once absorbed by the hides, they naturally bind to the collagen protein in them, prevent any disintegration and finally turn them into leather. The tanneries use animal skin that’s a byproduct of the meat industry and do not kill animals just for using their skin.
When raw hides arrive at the tanneries, they are soaked in water to remove all the salt that preserved them on the way there. Afterwards, their hair is removed, and they are limed before being placed in large wooden drums with tannins for 3–7 weeks to tan. Chrome tanning, on the other hand, takes less time. Hides only need one day to stay in water containing synthetic extracts.
After being removed from the drums, the hides are inspected and can be re-tanned, greased, or dyed, depending on the end product. This process is called fatliquoring. The leather is then dried on hooks in a controlled environment room where the humidity and temperature have to be just right. Finally, the tanner uses a series of mechanical steps to refine the leather and achieve the desired characteristics for the item.
One feature that distinguishes vegetable tanned leather from others is that it changes colours when exposed to light, resulting in a rich patina. Also, with age, it becomes softer and more bendable. Since these leather shoes develop their own distinct patina characteristics over time, no other piece will look the same.
The Most Popular Brands of Italian Leather Shoes
Even though you’re located in Australia, there are many footwear stores that carry genuine handmade Italian women’s shoes from renowned brands such as Lorena Paggi, Ernesto Dolani, Fauzian, Giampaolo Viozzi, Crispiani, and others.
The Italian shoe brand, Lorena Paggi was founded in 2000, by Loredana Giusti e Morena Parmegiani. These two friends previously met at another family shoe factory “Giusti”, where they worked for several years. With time, not only did their friendship flourish, but they also developed and shared the same passion for style and handmade footwear. They make the finest handcrafted women’s shoes using high-quality materials and the centuries-old tradition of artisan shoemaking.
Giampaolo Viozzi, which is another exquisite Italian brand, started the business in a garage with a few workers and modest economic resources. However, he began collaborating with foreign customers, and now this family-operated business has grown into a fierce Italian brand that remains true to traditional Italian shoemaking by providing the finest footwear made with the finest materials.
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Living in a tiny home with her not so tiny family, Kate considers multitasking to be her power as a caring supermum and wife. Whenever she's not in curled up in her writer's corner, covering various topics on kids and baby stuff, health, education, knowledge, entertainment or interior decor, you'd find her enjoying some quality time with loved ones, both indoors and out, sharing different experiences together; what better way to chase a writer's block away, right?!