norman vilalta

 
Norman Vilalta
 is one of my favourite bespoke artisans. Enthusiastic, talented and down-to-earth. His creations can often be fantastical, but he also does a nice line in conservative shoes with little touches of personality. 

Earlier this year we had a fitting on a pair of bespoke boots he is making me. The fitting was fine – a little big in the heel, but nothing we can’t easily fix, particularly given that Norman usually does two fittings. The rest of the hour, however, was spent in a very entertaining design session. 
 

norman vilalta bespoke last norman vilalta  trial bespoke shoes

 
I had originally suggested an ankle boot with both laces and a strap element. To an extent, the strap was supposed to be practical – in a hurry, it could do as a fastening to the boot rather than lacing it all the way up. Whether due to airport security, or simply trying to get the kids out of the door, such short-cuts often seem to come in useful. 

As I talked, Norman drew. Two quick flicks for the sole and waist; a sleek toe and curve up the ankle; the suggestion of a heel with three more lines. With that shape in place, he would begin adding buckles in various arrays. Sometimes they were simple, others ludicrously complicated. A few were pretty conservative, one or two completely impractical.
 

norman vilalta designs norman vilalta  designing

 
Looking back now at the pile of sketches we accumulated, I’m surprised that none of them come close to the design we settled on. That was a laced derby, with a single wide strap across it that mimicked that of a riding boot.

The next fitting should resemble something akin to that design, so I’ll post it then.

Norman launched a small RTW collection in the Barcelona store Santa Eulalia earlier this year, by the way. You can see the designs here.  

norman vilalta bespoke shoe

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Hazwan

Hi,

After having a couple of pairs of bespoke shoes made, do you think it’s a one way street? Have you ever thought that your other shoes aren’t good enough anymore?

Ahmad

Hi,

I am currently contemplating on buying a pair of shoes in a different colour. Most of my shoes are in black and in brown. I am considering considering blue or navy. My question is, would it be appropriate to wear blue shoes with a suit or will it only work with casual clothing. Thank you in advance.

Style Sins

Great post!

john

Off topic Simon – sorry about that.
I remember you did a post about Christmas presents a while back which I printed out and left in an obvious place with a good result. Could you repeat this year please? I don’t need anything but would like quite a lot, hope you can sort some wheat from chaff.

OWR

Hi Simon,
I’m a 19 year old University student, looking to buy a new jacket.
I was hoping you might be able to quickly answer a few questions regarding this one:

http://www.malfordoflondon.com/gieves-hawkes-jackets/7219-gieves-hawkes-595-navy-blue-patch-pocket-sweater-jacket-0000000007219.html

Firstly, although I know you mainly write about bespoke and probably don’t have such extensive knowledge when it comes to cheap(ish) RTW, how do you think the quality of it would compare to jackets at: 1) TM Lewin/Charles Tyrwhitt and 2) somewhere like Ede & Ravenscroft

Secondly, can you tell from the photos what material it is made from? It’s listed as a ‘sweater jacket’ and the lining appears to be made from a kind of sweatshirt-like material, is all of it?

Thanks, and sorry for asking on such an unrelated post.
Oli

David

Hi Simon,

I am a long-time reader from Toronto, Canada and I am writing to share with you and your readers my recent experience with Norman Vilalta. Hopefully this will better inform your readers should they wish to purchase shoes from Norman Vilalta.

While on vacation in Barcelona in September of 2017 I visited the Norman Vilalta atelier. Because the atelier did not have my size in the model I wanted to purchase they offered to make one for me from their RTW collection. I anxiously awaited the arrival of my shoes and when I unpacked the shoes in October I noticed several things wrong about them right away. As the former President of a footwear company I know a few things about shoes.

One was that there was a very noticeable bulge/bump along the back of the left shoe (not present in the right shoe) and the second was that the finishing was poorly executed and certainly nothing like the shoes on display at their atelier or website. You can image my disappointment, especially after paying 900 euros plus shipping, duties, taxes etc. In my opinion, these shoes appear to be seconds.

After chasing Norman for several weeks, I managed to finally get in touch with him and he apologized for the problems; I had sent him photos of what I had received. Norman said he cannot process a refund but would be happy to make a new pair of shoes for me at no charge from an upcoming new collection, which I presume is the recent 1202 collection. Hopefully Norman will honor his pledge but recent attempts to remind him of this via email have remained unanswered.

I am writing this post to educate your readers and perhaps get feedback from them as to whether they have had a similar experience and how they went about getting to a resolution.

Best Regards,
David

Nezar

Hi David,

Just to share my experience. I have ordered two pairs of boots from Norman (both MTO). One arrived relatively quickly and was beautiful (no blemishes that I could see). The other boot has also arrived but I have not seen it yet (I can’t visit home due to closed borders) but I will note that although it was a bit delayed (as it was MTO) Norman replied speedily when I inquired about the delay and has sent me follow-up correspondence as well, which was a very nice touch. Based on my experience so far I would not hesitate to purchase from Norman again.

Best regards,
Nezar

Anonymous

Hi, Simon:

Not news on your boots?