I have been posting a lot of the shoes from the new (relatively) brands coming out of China specifically Yim Shoemaker, Acme Shoemaker and the house line of Yeossal, as I have been thoroughly impressed with their work and have noticed a theme among some commenters that I wanted to address. I believe that the idea of their train of thought is ultimately a concept that hurts the shoe industry as a whole and actually is also a trick that is used by long-standing shoemakers to continue selling at higher prices while quality deteriorates. The comment is this: “The prices for these ‘Chinese shoemakers’ are too high when comparing against Saint Crispins as their brands are new and do not have enough time in the industry to be competing against brands like StC.” This is not exactly verbatim but is the gist of their train of thought. Now allow me to explain why this is not accurate and should not be thought by the customers, as ultimately this idea hurts new shoemakers trying to get into market and helps to rip people off at the same time by existing shoemakers who use their ‘history’ to basically fool none-the-wiser clients.
Quality is quality
No matter if the brand is 1 day old or 100 years old, the quality of your shoes, your making, your skill determines your price (as well as materials used). A new brand, making the finest shoes should not have to charge less just because they are new and do not have a brand history. That is a misconception full stop. And if you launch your brand with the ultimate quality you should be able to charge a respective price to that quality and not lower your value because of a lack of history.
The myth that good shoes only come from certain European countries is dead
Saint Crispsins actually proved that theory as I remember the amount of bad publicity they got when coming out for being made in Romania as many people had bad (and may I say false) connotations about the country as a whole. The absurd fact that some sect of Gypsy comes from Romania, puts this bad light on that country which to correlate to shoemaking is the height of ignorance. But through time and building their brand with hard work done by owner Phillip Car, they were able to dispel that myth and rise to become one of the industry’s top shoemakers. And they didn’t come out cheap. No, they came out with their high prices, justify and explaining why they deserved to be at that price.
So this means that no matter where you come from, if your shoes are made with the best materials and the best craftsmanship, then you deserve to charge accordingly.
Brand History is actually used to fool you
The reality is that once a company has built a super loyal customer base through the brand presence and history, it is almost always correlated to the same point in time in which they start to screw over all of their wholesalers, raise their pricing and lower their quality (note that most high-end shoe brands are not even close to this level). This has been done time and time again. Just look at all of the designer brands, as well as some of other household names that we buy and trust today blindly when we can buy the same thing (if not better) at a more reasonable price. Think Church’s and Allen Edmonds to name a couple. And this has actually escalated in the last 10 years with the rise of ‘online buying’.
The simple fact is that once you hit a certain level of volume that your factory can no longer maintain, unless you find another factory of equal quality or make a new one, 9 times out of 10, the brand goes to places like India or the likes, where they source cheaper materials and labor. They then up the marketing budget to sell this high volume, claiming ‘handmade this and that, best quality etc’ while having lowered cost and raising price at the same time. So of course, this is not about the Carmina’s, C&J’s, Saint Crispins of the world, as they are all still making in their own controlled factories. This is larger-scale makers, to clarify this post for those of you misinterpreting it. And the fact of the matter, this is simply business 101 for nearly every industry. That’s why boutique brands are usually always more expensive out of the gate, offering superb quality but then never really grow into a Ralph Lauren. And Ralph Lauren is actually the perfect example of this entire post. You are buying a name. For what you pay for purple label, you could find a million more tailors producing better stuff and a lower price. You buying a name, a history and idea.
Therefore, I would, in fact, more trust a brand new company than I would many existing ones. Most new brands are inevitably more hungry, more ready to prove themselves and more eager to start to build their name through exceptional work. It’s after they become popular that you should start to become wary of them. That’s when the corners inevitably start to get cut.
So the point of this post is for one not to judge incorrectly. Don’t judge the country of origin. Don’t judge the length of the brand presence. Don’t judge against other brands. Judge the quality of the making through visual and physical stimuli. Judge the comments made in review of the product by others, but at the same time make sure that these people are not judging biasedly on the factors above. And lastly, judge the character of the brand itself. If people are kind and nice, that usually correlates to dedication, perseverance and caring about their product. Because when you care, you take price, and when you take pride, you exuberate that across all facets of your business!
I´ve been follwing you about 1.5 years and by far one of your best articles yet!
By the way, don´t hesitate to mention brand names either for praise or blame.
You being the shoe snob poeple rely on your experience and inside knowledge of the market.
Great work and all the best for your company/business.
Thank you for your kind words and support, I do appreciate it!
It’s easier to invest in a new brand when the price is lower then the. Traditional players . When a new brand especially from places like China ( no judgement on their quality) charges as much as St crispin , the buyer would naturally ask around amongst shoe aficionados about this brand and if they don’t have much experience with the brand then it very difficult to take the plunge . Also these new brands are mostly inaccessible to view in person .its just the word and specifications provided by the seller .
I get all that you said for sure but the point was the idea that a new maker “cant, read “shouldnt” charge what Saint Crispins does just because they are new. Which is a false ideology. I get that barrier to entry will be more challenging sure but not that a new maker shouldnt charge their price just because they are new or out of China
Your blogs are always useful to understand various aspects of the industry. But if a British brand start taking shoes from India or other Asian countries and you have tried it and find poor quality then who is responsible, the inspection team who imports. China make products according to grading A, B, C. A grade for USA, Europe and B grade for lower European countries and C grade to Asian countries. As per the price and quality relation and purchasing power of the people.
The currency plays vital role in pricing too.
It remind me something that will help in understanding what I want to say. I am a mechanical engineer. A company in India supplied a component for metro trains and find almost same component with some changes in material and design is used in bullet train of France. The chief engineer words were like this… It costs 8£ to us and we sell it for 80£. They(French) inspect every single component, of course for the safety demands are very high in bullet train.
Why the French would come to India for it. The obvious reason is pricing. I think they would get same component in 160£ minimum if the get from Europe.
The other aspect I think is that the European tanneries are famous in high end shoemaking and as you know Sir the Japanese have started dominating in shoemaking craftsmanship. In future, We will start hear japenese tanneries like Du puy, Randenbach. Good tanneries are already their but the high end shoemaking wasn’t there beforehand. We can’t question Japanese R&D, quality and technology. They can make high quality leather.
I think we should not relate quality in only aspect of pricing and origin of product.
I would never go with brand name, origin and history. Would choose always yuhoifukuda, Bespoke Shoemaker main d or , Stefano bemer over berluti.
So you agree with what I said then, at least it sounds like it as that was my argument. Quality is quality. No matter where it comes from.