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Velasca shoes, the young Italian dream


B&B's Man in Italy
"Enrico and Jacopo, two young Italian friends, were sitting there at the small round table of their favourite cafè in Milano, just in front of the Velasca Tower, a mighty skyscraper built in the mid 1950's and an iconic symbol of innovation and renaissance for the city.

As usual, the two great friends were kidding and laughing and, after a while, they started talking about the huge passion they shared since their childhood: quality shoes for men.

At some point, a fine Gentleman marvellously dressed entered the cafè. The fine Gentleman had a dark blue pinstriped suit, combined with a white shirt, red tie and socks and a wonderful pair of shiny Black Cap-Toe Oxfords.

Those magnificent shoes immediately caught the attention of the two young friends.

Enrico: "Jacopo, look at those shoes. How stunning they are..."

Jacopo: "Yes, indeed. But I'm sure they come from a prestigious brand and cost hundreds, if not thousands, of Euro."

Enrico: "It would be fantastic if high-end shoes could be sold to almost everyone, at a fair price."

Jacopo: "Well, that would be a dream."

Enrico: "Let's make it our dream. We can do it! We will create our own team of Artisans, cut out all the middlemen that terribly increase the final price of the product and sell directly to our loyal customers, from the factory straight to the final client. This way we will be able to strongly lower the costs and still keep quality high. Great shoes for most men at a reasonable price."

Jacopo: "Yes, let's do it now!"

In that exact moment the two great friends looked at each other for a few seconds. Then, simultaneously, they stared at the Velasca Tower in front of them. Enrico and Jacopo agreed that the name of their new company would have been Velasca. As the Velasca Tower had been a sign of innovation and renaissance for Milano, their shoes would have been a sign of innovation and renaissance for the illustrious Italian shoemaking tradition.

The dream came true in May 2013, when the Velasca shoe company was founded."

My dear B&B friends, this above is of course only a fake reconstruction coming from my mind, or if you prefer a fruit of my fantasy. But the essence of the story is true and probably it's not too far from what actually happened. Enrico Casati and Jacopo Sebastio are really excellent friends, with a huge love for finely crafted shoes. And their ambitious project to open an e-commerce for selling beautiful shoes at a fair price point came true just a few years ago, in May 2013.

Now, some information and personal thoughts.

Velasca shoes are entirely handmade by experienced Master Craftsmen in the small town of Montegranaro, in the Marche region. Each pair of shoes takes over 200 working steps to be completed.

They are produced in either full grain leather or suede leather, coming exclusively from renowned tanneries here in Europe and are equipped with either classic leather soles or Vibram rubber soles, when inclement weather conditions impose a firmer grip on the ground.

The construction method used to build Velasca shoes is the glorious, century-old Blake-Rapid, the same technique adopted by the most famous Italian shoemakers. The Blake-Rapid construction is based on a double stitching process. A first stitching row called Blake joins together insole, upper and midsole, while a second stitching row called Rapid joins together midsole and outsole. All this creates a shoe that is extremely robust, but at the same time flexible. Also, the Blake-Rapid method combines the advantages of the Goodyear welting technique (durability and recraftability) with the advantages of the Blake process (lightness and ease of construction). Blake-Rapid shoes, when properly manufactured with the right materials, are unquestionably of very high quality and, in my opinion, just as great as their Goodyear welted counterparts.

Regarding the look Velasca shoes are conservative, with traditional lines and rounded tox boxes that highlight an overall simple, classic, refined design. This is something I particularly love because they transmit that "timeless elegance" that has really never gone out of fashion.

As for fit and size Velasca Oxfords, being built on a regular fitting last (F), are ideal for men who have feet in a medium or standard width. The length is calculated on the European/Italian system, which is pretty well aligned with the UK system. Therefore, a 41 (my size) corresponds to a UK 7,5, a 42 corresponds to a UK 8, a 43 corresponds to a UK 9 and so on. If you have familiarity with shoes from Church's or Loake you shouldn't have problems finding your correct Velasca size.

The model I selected for my Velasca test and subsequent review is called "Cicisbeo" and it's their Middle Brown Cap-Toe Oxford. The first thing that caught my attention in these particular shoes was the lovely shade of Brown. Usually, in Brown dress shoes I go for Dark Brown, what here in Italy is known as "Testa di Moro". But this time I was fascinated by this gorgeous lighter tone, that, even if a bit different, somehow reminded me of the striking Walnut colour seen in Allen Edmond's best-selling Park Avenue.

After a close inspection right out of the box the Cicisbeo shoes appeared to be very well constructed: soft and thick full grain leather for the uppers, elastic and sturdy leather for the outsoles, clean and even stitching rows all along the shoes, both inside and outside.

These Oxfords fit me appropriately and are a true pleasure to wear. I really find no big flaws in them and I'd classify Velasca on a par with the best middle range men's shoes now on the market, but at a better price point compared to most. For only €179,00 (currently about $200,00) you get wonderful shoes, that should last a long time with proper care.

That being said, is there something I didn't like? Well, yes: the lack of several important accessories and matching complements. When buying a pair of high-end shoes you absolutely need a complete range of products to keep them in perfect shape, prolonging their lifespan and making them look great at all times.

Here is exactly what I'd like to see listed and made available on the Velasca catalogue:

1. A Shoe Care Guide

This is the first important thing that should be added to each box of new shoes. Many novices when buying their very first pair of premium shoes have no idea why they should use a shoehorn and a pair of shoetrees, how they should correctly polish the uppers and why they should rotate shoes between wears. The legendary John Lobb from England has the best Shoe Care Guide I've found to date. It's here
http://www.johnlobb.com/en/care-and-repair. As you can see it's very easy and reliable.

2. An extra pair of laces

In addition to the Shoe Care Guide each box of new shoes should also contain an extra pair of original laces. And this because no matter how strong or wear resistant the laces are, soon or later they will break. Having an extra pair immediately handy would be a nice "touch of class". Several quality brands already provide these.

3. A complete line of shoe creams

When ordering my Cicisbeo Oxfords on the Velasca web-site there were only three shoe creams available: Black, Dark Brown and Neutral. But I wanted to get a shoe cream in Middle Brown, to match the colour of my new shoes. At my request for this cream Enrico answered: "For the Cicisbeo we suggest the Neutral cream". I disagreed with Enrico and told him that his advice was, in my humble opinion, only half right. I'll briefly explain my reasons.

The shoe cream is the single most important shoe care product of them all (while the wax is just an optional). It has three main functions: moisturize the leather, enrich its colour and cover, thanks to its dyes, minor scuffs and scratches. The Neutral cream is basically only a leather moisturizer that certainly nourishes the uppers, but containing no pigments, it does not renew the colour of the leather and does not cover minor scratches either. Hence, for me it's an incomplete product. My friendly suggestion for Enrico was that he should have shoe creams in all colours, thus to always guarantee a perfect match with any leather in any tonality.

4. The polishing clothes and a welt brush

The proper way to polish a pair of shoes is to use a natural horsehair brush and a soft cotton cloth. Some say a horsehair brush is ideal for brogued shoes, while a cotton cloth is ideal for plain, straight leathers. My opinion is that a combination of both gives the best results, regardless of the shoe decoration. I'd consider adding some good polishing clothes and also one welt brush. The welt brush ia a small dedicated brush necessary to reach the narrow leather area between welt and upper, for feeding it accurately. Its use is highly recommended in Goodyear welted and Blake-Rapid shoes.

5. The matching belts

In the dress code matching the shoes with the belt is mandatory and for me what distinguishes true Gentlemen from the boys. I believe that one belt for each single model of shoes should be made.

Furthermore, it would be very nice if Velasca could enlarge its currently existing collection, offer the leather/Vibram rubber soles option on all Oxfords and Derbies and, finally, introduce a recrafting service for its loyal customers.

All the above points were discussed with Enrico a few days ago and he totally agreed with me when I mentioned them. Also, Enrico told me that many of my suggestions were under way and should be effective shortly, while a few others will be seriously taken into consideration for the near future.

My dear B&B friends, I desire now to end my long write-up in my own romantic way.

There are two questions to answer: "What is Velasca? And what are the reasons of its success?"

The vast majority of those who know well this brand would certainly answer: "Velasca is a young Italian company. It was founded by Enrico Casati and Jacopo Sebastio in May 2013. They are winners because they are two brilliant and smart businessmen. They sell beautiful handcrafted shoes, almost within everyone's means. Prices are very reasonable".

But that is not enough. Not for me.

My answers: "Velasca is a young Italian dream. It was founded by Enrico Casati and Jacopo Sebastio in the exact moment they started to trust in it. They are winners because they put their heart and soul in what they love and what they believe. They share a huge passion and involve almost everyone in their dream. All this is priceless".

Velasca shoes, the young Italian dream.

P.S. The below attached photos are a courtesy of the Velasca Team.

A special thanks to Enrico Casati, co-founder and CEO of Velasca, who provided me with a free test pair of Cicisbeo Oxfords to evaluate and review for the B&B community. And a special thanks to Mr. Joel, co-founder and owner of Badger & Blade, who gave me the green light on this fascinating project.

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Great post Marco...I love the light brown leather , it would be my first choice ,however,I like a matching color sole on my shoes ,like the Lisbon model from Sanders..


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Fridays are Fishtastic!
Is there flooding in Italy?

Nice write-up Marco!
I was going to say something similar, but they are probably doing it purposely to highlight the shoe. Of course I could be wrong- the "in" thing with suit pants today seems to be as tight as possible and hemmed too high.
I was going to say something similar, but they are probably doing it purposely to highlight the shoe. Of course I could be wrong- the "in" thing with suit pants today seems to be as tight as possible and hemmed too high.
....You are 100% correct , I see guys looking like Ichabod Crane walking around lately.


Fridays are Fishtastic!
....You are 100% correct , I see guys looking like Ichabod Crane walking around lately.
Case in point- awful look. This is more ridiculous than bell bottoms and shirts open to the belly button and gold chains on the neck.
I was going to say something similar, but they are probably doing it purposely to highlight the shoe. Of course I could be wrong- the "in" thing with suit pants today seems to be as tight as possible and hemmed too high.

It's pretty popular right now although it seems that things are trending towards the hem just barely kissing the top of the shoe, no break.


B&B's Man in Italy
Gentlemen, yesterday I met one of the Store Managers of the Velasca Bottegas here in Rome. She gave me some very interesting news for my international friends, who may desire to try this great Italian brand.

Velasca has already opened a new shop (Bottega) in Paris. They are also going to open a new shop in London in 2 months and another new shop in New York in 4 months.
Good to see Italian craftsmanship alive and well. Terrible shame what's happening with Ferragamo:

Glued on rubber soles? Really? For shoes north of $500. Shame.


B&B's Man in Italy
Good to see Italian craftsmanship alive and well. Terrible shame what's happening with Ferragamo:

Glued on rubber soles? Really? For shoes north of $500. Shame.

I'm sorry to hear this about a great brand like Ferragamo. And with the prices they ask, it's even more disappointing!

Anyway, it is not the case with Velasca. Velasca shoes with rubber soles are Blake stitched, while with leather soles are Blake-Rapid stitched.
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