If you’re willing to pay a premium for handmade items, this is going to be it! Bonus: A considerable steal compared to similar models on the market!
Give your feet the Italian job: specifically, Pantofola d’Oro’s handmade leather men’s and women’s shoes. Seriously, there’s a reason this leather, produced since 1886, is so sought-after. Call them shoes with influence: this storied, fine shoe cobbler just opened its very first non-Italian boutique in where else but the Big Apple? This city boasts Little Italy, after all.
If you are a fan of Adidas Stan Smith’s X Raf Simon shoes or a clean-and-modern sneaker look, but don’t want to spend more of your hard-earned cash on “Made in China” shoddy goods, then this brand is for you. If you can splurge, get one of their personalized shoes, and make them truly your own, from color of leather all the way to stitching your favorite maxim (Seize the day?) on the side. The prices at the NY store are significantly lower than the ones advertised online. If you are in NY, pay a visit.
You can’t miss the big neon sign. Inside the Italian brand’s monumental U.S. storefront in Soho, you can customize your kicks or buy them ready-to-wear, and walk out the door in style! Enter the doors, and head upstairs. To yo
ur right: aromatic leathers artistically draped over wall mounts. To the left, shoes arranged like artworks in a museum propped on pedestals against the wall. Overall, an industrial-looking space, but clean and spacious.
The custom-made station may catch your eye, as that’s where I started playing! They boast tons of colors, even sparkly leathers. Already a fan of the shape of their shoes, visiting these Italian artisans’ NYC shop was a true pleasure–not to mention, worth the price upgrade vs. shoes that break apart in three months. Bypassing the sports sneakers, I opted for casual leather walkers with red detailing: price tag under 200 total. And they certainly trump my Adidas security-blanket sneakers, while matching the level of comfort. And knowing they were artisan-made assured me of their quality and durability.
Money Score- Okay
Prices higher than what you would find at Aldo, but comparable to Adidas’ and Nike’s higher-end, “live-in” shoes. Made of Italian leather by artisans in a small town three hours outside of Rome, the price is reasonable compared to other Italian artisan brands.
For the soccer player who wants cleats that fit like a glove, this place has plentiful, personalizable choices. The European sizing system is unique. It’s better to try in person to assure the size is right before you buy.
Consciousness Score: Needs Improvement
The brand was developed by the son of a cobbler who wanted more comfortable shoes for wrestling matches. Today, while not working out of the cobbler’s shop, every Pantofola d’Oro shoe is still handmade, and the type of calfskin leather first used in the 1940s is still stitched within some of their shoes.
While all Italian, the type of leather depends on the model. The calfskin is super soft, almost buttery. I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced the feeling of this material in a shoe before. It conforms to your foot like a silky glove. However, materials are where they have a lot of work to do in disclosing their sourcing. They didn’t mention details, aside from the fact that everything comes from Italy. Bottom line: room to improve.
Inside the store, they have images of sports figures who have worn their shoes. They did well marketing to men, but may have not fully figured out how to market to women (not everyone is looking to buy a soccer cleat!).
‘All the Feels’ Score: Good
Italians certainly live up to their reputation of being brilliant business people. When I went, the store was empty, aside from two attentive employees (i.e., none of the pushy crowds you find buzzing around stores that are way too popular on Instagram. This brand deserves to be, but I am glad it’s not.
True to Italian familial style, the shopkeeper who came to New York to open the Soho boutique has worked with the brand for a few years. While his thick Italian accent was authentic, I must question his accuracy in customer profiling, as he kept trying to sell me on their cult soccer cleats (the store is decked with pictures of famous Italian soccer players).
Thanks to the friendly team, I left with suggestions for where to go in the brand’s founding city. Located west of Rome (and actually predating it), the city boasts designer outlets and an impressive history. I think I’ll pay a visit … stay tuned!