Last night was the official launch of Stefano Bemer shoes at New & Lingwood. It was an important moment for both companies: the first time Bemer bespoke and RTW shoes have been available in the UK, and the first external brand New & Lingwood has ever stocked.
The RTW shoes are all made in the same workshop as Bemer bespoke. This was always the case: they used to be stocked in a shop around the corner from the old workshop, and everything is now housed in the chapel on Via San Niccolo in Florence – the company’s headquarters since it was bought by Scuola del Cuoio last year.
The only difference between the RTW shoes and the bespoke is that the soles are attached by machine (the welt is still sewn by hand) and less work goes into areas such as the waist – which are pretty square.
At £1200, they sit in an odd place for shoes in London – between the best benchmade shoes (Green, Lobb) and the bespoke shoemakers. The challenge for Bemer will be to explain to English customers why they should pay so much more for the extra handwork.
The challenge of managing the product and retaining Stefano’s fanatical eye for quality falls to my old friend Tommaso Capozzoli (pictured top), who was the sales manager while Stefano was alive. Also at the event was CEO Tommaso Melani (below), who was reassuringly passionate in his discussion of Bemer, its principles and its future.
The well-known wooden Bemer boxes now come with tops painted cobalt blue, and there are some nice accessories, such as the travel shoe trees below. I also like the fact that several of Stefano’s old quirks have resurfaced, such as the Sciuscià (shoeshine) trolley that he had in the RTW shop.
The shoes featured several Bemer trade marks, such as basketball leather and calf uppers with details in shark. And among bespoke was this model below: cordovan with a very narrow Norwegian welt, topped off with a third (purely decorative) line of stitching.
Photos: Luke Carby