Plain and simple. If you bought them from a department store they are not handmade. If you bought them from a large shoemaker that produces more than 20,000 a year, they are not Handmade. If they cost less than $1500 they are definitely not Handmade. And of course there are exceptions like Vass, but I am talking to the majority of you that don’t own Vass, bought your ‘Italian’ shoes from a shop where the salesmen said they were, or online by one of these new ‘straight to customer, no middleman’ gimmick brands that peddle shoes for $200 and claim that they are Handmade in Spain. There are no Handmade shoes in Spain. It’s a mass production country. The few exceptions are bespoke makers like Norman Vilalta, Ramon Cuberta or other very small artisans who work in a workshop, such as Enrile and make MTO shoes by hand. So get that right through your head. Italy neither. And neither England nor France. If a shoe is made in a factory, by definition it is not handmade. Because handmade shoes are made in workshops. AND NOT WITH THE HELP OF MACHINES
Sometimes I wonder where and when this term started to be used to peddle lies? But I am quite sure it was when Italian shoe salesmen came to the US to present their brand to shops like Nordstrom and said this. And truth be told, back in those times, they just might have been handmade but as time went on and factories modernized and found ways to make production faster using machines and taking away the actual ‘handmade’ aspect of it, they simply kept using the term all the while it wasn’t true anymore. And the salesmen in the US, who work on commission, ate this term up as it made the customers eyes go large when they were fed this lie and easily made the purchase for belief that somewhere in Italy or England or wherever their shoes were actually being made by hand, by one shoemaker (and apparently not a production team in a factory). Little did they know, it was a lie. And so the lie continues. But as we have moved into a much more machine production era, what gets me is how people haven’t wised up? That is the common person. I know that you Shoe Snob Blog readers know the difference.
What always gets me is how people don’t use simple mathematics to understand that the $200-$400 shoe that they are buying cannot be handmade by the law of said mathematics as someone, somewhere wouldn’t be making any money on that sale. Because a true handmade pair of shoes takes around 40-60 hours of work, starting from the time that the leather is selected for the upper to be cut. Because just so you know, that if a shoe costs $400 in a store, that means it’s wholesale price would have been around $150 (or less), which means it’s costs price is somewhere around $100. So unless you are paying your workers around $1/hour (because let’s not forget cost of materials too) it is simply not possible to make Handmade shoes for those prices.
It’s important that we wise up to this. And when a salesmen tries to spout this crap to us, we actually call them on their lie. I do it all of the time. It’s easy. You simply tell them, ‘actually, no, they are not handmade.’ Because this term and idea is hurting the industry and hurting those that actually make handmade shoes and cannot justify their pricing because some other crappy brand is claiming the same at a ⅓ of the price. So the customer does their simply mathematics and ask themselves, ‘well if one is handmade at $300 and the other at $900, why should I buy the more expensive one?’ And thus the large company with cheap shoes wins and the small shoemaker busting his butt for passion suffers. And the shoe industry stays saturated with crap.
Food for thought!