There are many brands sprouting up these days, mainly private label stuff coming out of Spain and Italy. Few of them in my opinion are really making something that truly separates itself from the rest of the flock however and what you get is just another brand on the scene trying to make the cheapest shoe on the block. I don’t think that a lot of these brands end up surviving. While most people want low cost stuff, there has to be more of a reason to buy than just a low price. Therefore, the ones that are able to really give you a reason to buy their shoes over all of the other 300 competitors in their price range are usually the ones that survive the test of time. Italigente is one of those brands and let’s hope that I can eloquently explain why.
Italigente was founded in 2007 on the premise that making brilliant footwear was slowly fading and the idea of mass production and making a quick buck by producing cheap shoes was taking over. And that idea was right to a certain degree and still is. All too often is it thought to make the cheapest shoe possible, claim it to be handmade and sell it to the masses that don’t know any better. The hard road is making a great shoe, at a fair price and explaining why it is worth the cost that is more than $150. Well, Italigente has definitely made a good shoe, at a great price and now it’s time to start really explaining to the masses why they should be bought.
The world of footwear is typically saturated with 3 types of shoes: Cemented, Blake stitched and Goodyear welted. What is less common is the idea of using Blake Rapid construction which is like the child between blake and goodyear welted. It takes the idea of stitching a midsole to the insole (kind of like Blake) and then the outsole to the midsole (kind of like GY welted). Nearly all shoes that are blake rapid come from Italy, as do Italigente shoes. But nearly all of them are close to double the price too. And that is what makes Italigente great. It is a good value for money at €425.
Okay now for the shoes. At first glance they are extremely well presented and look very nice. The box is of good caliber, the dust bags of good quality and the presentation is very well thought out. It doesn’t really take nor give to the shoes but is always a nice touch and is appreciating in knowing that the brand takes pride in the appearance. You can see that no expense was sacrificed to give a good look to the presentation of the shoes.
Taking out the shoes you notice a very vibrant and nice leather. It looks of good quality and smells of it too. The finishing was impeccable and it’s impressive to see fudge wheel work of that caliber on a shoe of that price. Few others have that. (fyi, the fudge wheel work is the jagged indents on the welt). There was nothing that was wrong per se, but I am not a massive fan of the antiquing work (kind of typical Italian brushed look), especially as they do it with the laces in them (or so it would appear based on the stains around the facing). It’s not that it was bad, but just not my style. But aside from personal taste on hand coloring work, the shoes looked great nonetheless, in quality, finish and beauty. And according to the website, they use Crust leather form Annonay and Ilcea so it’s no surprise to see quality.
I had always been curious about Blake Rapid in terms of how they feel and wear (as I have never worn a pair before). That being, I was quite excited to give these bad boys a nice test drive. Well, what I experienced was hard to describe as the shoes were so incredibly comfortable. They had all of the benefits of a GY welted shoe (i.e. felt sturdy and durable) but also the benefits of a black stitched (i.e. flexible, easy to wear and light in weight). And they fit me incredibly well too, which was quite strange as I am normally about a 41 narrow and would take 40.5 in a normal width. But these were a EU40, which I have never worn before. So a word of warning: SIZE DOWN! I was in them for an entire day and did not feel one thing that bothered me. And that is great, as I have quite messed up feet and if a shoe is not supportive the way it should be, my feet will be crying out at me in a big way. But I felt like I could walk all day in these.
In reality there is not a bad thing that I can say about them. One thing that was slightly disappointing was how easily the leather stained from water, as I accidentally spilled some water on one of the shoes and it took away a bit of the coloring and left light spots. This is not something that I can really complain too much about though as I had not pre-polished the shoes to protect them. So while one could say that it was my fault as I know to do this for tan shoes, I can imagine how someone who does not know as much as I do about shoe care would react to this and possibly feel that his shoes were ruined. It’s not the case though I am sure that they are easily fixable as a leather that reacts this way to water will also react that way to polish which means that they should easily absorb the polish and thus hide the spots.
As an overall rating, I have to give these shoes a 10 out of 10. There was really nothing wrong with them on a quality level, their price is extremely attractive and great value for money and they were extremely comfortable. My only qualm is that I wish that Italgente as a brand had more exciting models as I feel most of their collection is ‘nothing new.’ But hey, most people want simple and classic, while I personally want the opposite.
For more in depth background info on the brand and how the shoes are made, see the link HERE.