Norman Vilalta’s 1202 Heritage collection is something to see. I was recently in Barcelona and had the pleasure of spending some time in Norman’s atelier, watching as one of his makers was in the process of making a pair. It took me back to my apprenticeship days of bespoke shoemaking as that is exactly how that pair was being made: as a pure handmade shoe from start to finish. And being that Norman Vilalta and I both trained at Stefano Bemer, the process felt all too familiar.
The maker was in the process of shaping the toe after lasting it, which involves a lot of hammering and shaping with a bone. It is the subtle (not in sound, but in idea) processes like this that greatly differentiate a handmade shoe from a machine-made one. That hammering and shaping are what really help to show the beauty of the last and its subtle nuances.
I didn’t stick around long enough to get to the next stage but after perfectly shaping the upper to the last and preparing the insole for the welt, he will then sew on that welt by hand, set the rand, place the shank and fill the insole with cork and prepare for the sole. It sounds simple but there are a lot of small processes between each major stage. A lot of finessing to create perfection. That is what you are getting when you purchase the 1202 Heritage Collection
The Heritage line offers a fully handmade shoe, created to the level of bespoke but on a ready-made last. They are nothing short of exquisite. I love the styles too. I hope that Norman expands on them. I also hope to see an almond shape last in the future as most of what I see are chisel-shaped lasts.
As far as I could tell, nearly all of the models in the 1202 Heritage Collection are made in crust leather and hand patinated. I love Norman’s signature reverse patina with the lighter toe and heel with the deep-colored body. It really gives the shoes an old-world feel to them and for me, that is a good thing as shoes made 50-70 years ago were of a caliber of quality we almost never see anymore. And this line reminds me of those.
I could go on and on about the subtle details, such as the notch where the heel meets the waist, as well as Norman’s signature-shaped sole but for now, I will leave you here to read more on it and check it out for yourself. Enjoy the photos.
Learn more here: https://shop.normanvilalta.com/