The sneaker has been at the top of the footwear heap for so long now, is it any surprise the dress shoe is ready for a renaissance? They may be more comfortable and technologically advanced than their predecessors, but they still scream high net worth, personality and luxury — like a high-end sports car for the foot. Pierre Hardy, Cartujano and Diego Vanassibara were among the names that did it best.
This story first appeared in the August 26, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Vanassibara studied at the prestigious Cordwainers College in London and specializes in taking natural materials, some from his native Brazil and its indigenous tribes, and spinning them into sleek, high-end footwear.
“Craftsmanship can be modern, sexy, fun and exciting,” said the designer, whose latest collection features shoes covered in green cockerel and goose feathers, others that have been laser-engraved with a turtle-shell pattern or adorned with delicate mahogany or rosewood, hand-carved in Indonesia.
Even his slip-on sneakers are unique, made from la cid yers of leather cut to resemble the decorative scarification of some Brazilian tribes.
The shoes are made in Italy and sold at stores including Isetan, Dover Street Market and H Lorenzo. Retail prices range from 590 euros, or $650, to 650 euros, or $717, for the most elaborate designs. The green feather shoes cost 880 euros, or $971.
French designer Pierre Hardy, who honed his skills at Hermès and Christian Dior before launching his label in 1999, believes men’s dress shoes are a “big issue…As a designer and as a man,” said Hardy. “I want to have beautiful shoes, chic and dressy, the classic shoes as the equivalent of the tailor. Really handcrafted, beautifully made shoes. It’s like a fantasy, I think, because it’s very hard for a guy to combine this fantasy and the very classic and elegant shoe without it looking old, classic and boring. That is why I try with the classic dress shoe in the collection, to make them as clean and modern as possible. But not too modern — because when it’s too modern it’s not even classic anymore. So this balance is hard to find, and I think men today wonder about that too.”
The designer focused on a more streamlined look for his latest collection ranging from $495 for a desert boot style to $845 for a Hopper style. “I tried to focus on very basic, standard shoe styles for men,” added Hardy. “But making them as clean and as graphic as possible. So it’s a real brogue, it’s a real Richelieu, but it’s handmade, it’s a good justice of ratted black stitching, very traditional handcraft, which is a very true design. We tried to erase all the useless details, so the structure is very classic, but the lines are more clean and more streamlined.”
General manager Lorenzo Fluxá is a fourth-generation member of the Fluxá family, carrying on a shoemaking tradition. Fluxá’s great-grandfather launched Lottusse in 1928 and Fluxá’s father — who bears the same name — created the Camper brand.
With a history of shoemaking dating back to 1928, Fluxá opted to focus on traditional footwear for the Spanish label.
“This season, the new collection carries on with classics: moccasin, Oxford, monk strap, Chelsea boots, high boots, city or more outdoor, but all manufactured in Mallorca with the tradition of Goodyear-welted,” said Fluxá. “In the heritage range, the cowboy boot is a new version of the Cartujano icon: a low boot with stitched details on leather, Goodyear-welted.”
The price range is from 350 euros or $386 for a sneaker, to 650 euros or $717 for cowboy boots.