While in Florence, I had the absolute pleasure of spending a good amount of time with Paolo Scafora (a Neapolitan shoemaker), not just in a business environment but in a friendly environment, an environment that allows one to just be natural. I must say that he was one of the kindest and most generous people that I have ever met (not to take away from all of the other wonderful people that I have come across, just that this is ‘fresh’ in my recent experiences). That’s the one thing that I really love about Italian people; the fact that within a matter of minutes, they make you feel that you have known them forever and that you have always been best friends.
Not to go off subject but to give you a nice example, I remember during my first month in Florence, I met an American girl who was dating an Italian guy. We all met for the first time and they asked me what I was doing for Christmas. Naturally, as I knew no one there, I said ‘nothing.’ The Italian guy immediately invited me to his family’s house for Christmas, and we had only known each other for about 1 hour. I was blown away by the gesture and it was amazing how natural it was for him to do so. It was one of the best meals that I have ever had. For me, this was what it was like meeting Paolo. And today this day, we remain friends (updated 9 years later).
While I had known about Paolo Scafora (the brand) and had the pleasure of once shining a pair, I was not entirely familiar with it all. I knew that he did do bespoke shoes, but did not know a lot about his RTW line. Therefore, I enquired a bit. Apparently, he is the 3rd generation “Scafora” running the shoe business and it has gone through a lot of changes since that first day that his grandfather started making shoes in a small laboratory, pair by pair. In the early 2000’s the brand got a little lost and that is when Paolo (who started working in the factory at 15) took over. When he did so, he envisioned making the company meet the quality and the standards that his grandfather upheld and that was in ‘Handmade shoes.’
One confusing thing about the Italian language and the terminology is that there is no word for “hand welting.” Instead, they say “goodyear a mano,” which means ‘goodyear by hand.’ Therefore, when you look at his site, you think, ‘okay he does goodyear welted shoes.’ But the reality of it is that he does not do goodyear (well he might if you ask) but what he really offers are hand welted shoes. In fact, for every construction he does, the lasting/welting are done by hand and the only thing machine about it is the addition of the sole. Of course, if one wanted, it could be done by hand, but this would be at special request. Another feature of the Scafora shoes is that nearly all of the leathers are crust and are then hand patinaed in the factory. So each shoe is in fact unique, especially as his coloring is quite in-depth.
The pricing structure is as follows.
Bologna starts from €690
Goodyear (handwelted) from €850
Norwegian from €1100
Bespoke from €1800 (including the last – all subsequent pairs are the same price)
He is quite competitive in reality, for the amount of handwork involved. And he tells me that he has around 28 people working in the factory, so it’s not exactly as if they are pumping out 100’s a day…it’s all artisanal stuff you know. And I must say that while my photos may not give great justice, the shoes are quite immaculate in person. And while the site may not give the impression of it, Paolo tells me that the shoes are available for direct-to-customer purchase (i.e. mail order).
Learn More: www.paoloscaforanapoli.it