Italigente’s shoes are made in a small workshop in the little town Montegranaro, in the Marche region, Italy’s largest shoe district. Our shoes are built using natural materials and made in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way, and can last for decades with good care and a few resoles. They are made with the Blake/rapid construction, a method with similar benefits as Goodyear welted shoes, making it easy to resole the shoes without interfering with the fundamental base of the shoe.
Below we go through the manufacturing process of a pair of Italigente step by step. This is a brief walkthrough, if your interested in an in depth report with lots of pictures from the making of Italigente, click here.
- We source the leather for the uppers from some of the most renowned tanneries in the world. Leather is from French Tannerie D’Annonay or the Italian tannery Ilcea. The suede is from Charles F. Stead in England or the Italian tannery Opera.
- The uppers are clicked by hand, which means that the pattern standards are laid out on the leather which is cut with a very sharp knife.
- The patterns are then carefully stitched together, attached to the vegetable tanned leather we use for the lining, and then reinforced on necessary places to keep it’s shape through many years of wear.
- A leather insole is attached to the bottom of the last. Then the uppers are pulled over the last and attached. For heel stiffener we use leather board and for toe stiffener celastic.
- The waist is strengthened with a metal shank. One of the strengths of the Blake/rapid construction is that there is almost no hollow space in the middle of the shoe, giving it a compact construction with just a very slim layer of cork. Here Blake/rapid is more similar to a hand welted shoe (used for bespoke shoes) which has the same compact construction, than compared to a Goodyear welted shoe, where there is a big hollow space between the insole and outsole which needs a lot of fugitive cork filling.
- A thinner leather midsole is glued on and then a Blake stitch attach it through the upper and insole. Here is another strength of the Blake/rapid construction, the fact that it isn’t only dependent on glue anywhere, but also strong stitches. A Goodyear welted shoe has a canvas rib glued to the insole, onto which the welt seam is stitched, which means at this crucial spot of the shoe is essentially only glued.
- The leather insole and midsole on a Blake/rapid shoe will mold to your feet and create true comfort. With a Blake/rapid shoe you remove the last to make the Blake stitch, and then put the last back for the rest of production process. This presses down the stitches to the insole making them barely perceptible. On a regular Blake shoe you stitch the Blake stitch after the last is removed permanently.
- Our leather outsoles are tanned with trunks of chestnut during three months for improved water resistance, durability and flexibility. Now the outsole is glued to the midsole, a channel for stitches is cut open, and then the sole is stitched to the midsole with a rapid stitch, and then the channel is closed. The rapid stitch is exactly the same thing as what is called a sole stitch on a Goodyear welted shoe. This seam is the one you unpick and redo when you resole the shoe.
- Now the heels is built up with several leather lifts, and at the bottom a rubber piece is inserted at the back part for improved durability.
- The shoes sits on the last during at least ten days going through production. The long time on last is important for the shoe to be able to retain the shape for thousands of ours and years and years of wear.
- The shoe is now fully built, but a lot of work is still to be done. Much time goes into finishing the sole and heel edges, making them even and smooth, and then colored. Also the sole is smoothened and then painted by hand.
- The last stage is finishing the uppers. For most of our brown shades the leather is then painted by hand. A work that takes up to one hour a pair, giving a deep, patinated tone. All shoes (except those in suede) are also treated with shoe cream and polish for care, protection and shine.