16 November 2012
Back in June when I was in Milan for fashion week the lovely people from Sutor Mantelassi invited me to their store on the legendary Via Monte Napoleone so I could get a feel for the latest collection and learn about the shoemaking brand founded near Florence in 1912.
The founders, Enea and Ettore, started out with a little workshop and, after training with expert shoemakers in Bologna, they begun to create shoes for the wealthy bourgeoisie – the only ones who could afford quality shoes. By 1950 the shoemakers had shops in Bologna and Florence and in 1962 Enea's son, Ledo Mantellassi, created the Sutor (shoemaker in Latin) Mantellassi brand. Over the 1970's the brand steadily grew maintaining their high quality standards. This gained them a celebrity clientele, a spot at the Pitti Uomo trade show and eventually led them to open their Milan store on Via della Spiga. Sutor Mantellassi has since become a cornerstone of the 'Made in Italy' revolution and turned to Asia, opening a shop in Tokyo. This year the brand celebrates its centenary with the opening of another two stores: one in Shanghai and a second one in Milan on Via Monte Napoleone.
I am an absolute sucker for tradition and heritage when it comes to fashion and accessories. It's one thing to appreciate beautiful shoes but a completely different one to know you are wearing carefully crafted pieces handmade following century-old traditions. The entire process is stunningly documented on the book the brand has published for their anniversary.
I was lucky enough not only to be gifted a copy of the book but to my very first pair of Sutor Mantellassi shoes. I'm ashamed to admit I didn't own a classic pair of smart lace-up shoes so this was my perfect chance. They fit like a glove and are a lot more comfortable than I expected worn new. But my favourite feature, of course, is the unmistakable blue sole. My pair on the picture below is still looking that good after two crazy dance sessions at a black tie party and a wedding – they're not just pretty but tough too!
Click on read more at the end of the post to see images from the shop after the jump.