The internet is riddled with all kind of shoe brands for men. Specially when it comes to handmade leather shoes it becomes so hard to decide what one should go for. Every single brand claims that their shoes are handmade with fine craftsmanship and using the finest quality leathers. They all carry more or less the same kind of designs such as wingtip or toe cap oxfords, full or semi-brogues, classic single or double monks and when it comes to loafers it’s the same penny loafers or tasseled moccasins that remain in vogue year after year. In addition, 90% of men either wear black or some shade of brown.
In light of all this, it’s really confusing for most consumers that there’s a HUGE difference in price between all these brands even though they are virtually claiming and selling the same thing. Some brands are selling for $100 a pair while others are going as high as $2000 a pair! Then there’s a huge mix of brands in between these extremes, mostly priced between $200 to $500.
So our editors decided to look through the hype and see what really is going on and how much you should really pay for a fine quality pair of handmade shoes. We started with the actual cost of leather, the actual labor hours needed to make one pair, the margins each player in the value chain is keeping and the end price the consumers are paying for these shoes.
Instead of boring you with all the details we will go straight to our findings. Our main finding is that the consumers are being taken for a HUGE ride by almost ALL brands out there. Here are the facts:
FACT ONE: 99% Of Handmade Shoemakers Use The SAME Making Techniques
The techniques for making a handmade shoe are pretty much the same, either they are blake-stitched or they are good-year welted. None of these involve any rocket science and 99% of handmade shoes fall in either of these two categories. It DOES NOT matter whether the shoe is made in Italy, Turkey, Portugal or Pakistan. It’s the same two techniques everyone uses.
FACT TWO: 99% Of Handmade Shoemakers Use The SAME Kind Of Leather And Its NOT That Expensive
All brands tout the virtue of full grain calf leather. But full grain calf leather costs not more than $3 per square foot. One pair of shoe uppers needs 2.5 to 2.75 sq feet of leather even for the biggest sizes. So that’s still less than $10 of leather! So while we get the superiority of full grain calf leather, its not something that justifies a shoe being sold for an exuberant price.
FACT THREE: The Shoemakers Make Peanuts While The Middlemen Hike Up the Prices
Since all the shoes are being made with the same methods and using similar materials then why the expensive prices and the huge variations in price? The answer is that there are just too many middlemen in the market. The actual shoemakers and factories have really small margins while the branding people and retailers are doubling or tripling the prices while hyping up the products.
After all the research we are of the clear opinion that consumers should buy DIRECTLY from shoemakers who charge the same minimal margins that they would charge if supplying to a brand or retailer. Do NOT buy from online retailers who source the products form someone else. Do NOT buy on marketplaces like Amazon or Ebay who charge extra commission from retailers. Instead, buy directly from the original website run by a shoemaker that sells at factory direct prices with ethical margins. In practical terms, we calculate that YOU SHOULD NOT PAY MORE THAN $80 FOR A FINE PAIR OF HANDMADE SHOES.
That is why men are falling in love with Studio Empoli Our only recommendation in this category. Priced at an average of $59 a pair and shipping directly from their factory in Pakistan that is run under an Italian management there is absolutely no way we could find you a better deal. These are prices after a 30% deal they are running on their website at the moment.