Learn About Quality Shoes
Ever wonder why some shoes are downright beautiful?
Making a quality shoe is an artisanal skill that is handed down from generation to generation. The best shoemakers are Italian families in that have been making shoes since the 1900s.
When it comes to longevity and comfort, the shoe's construction is an important factor. The primary indicator of quality comes from how the upper is attached to the sole and a variety of methods are available.
Leather comes from hides - typically cow. Where and how the cow was raised and the area of the cowhide that the leather is cut from determines your shoe's beauty and softness.
Our shoes are all made in Italy at factories specializing in luxury shoe craftsmanship and passed down through multiple generations. There are many locales around the world that make high quality dress shoes for men, but we've long been enamored with sleek lines and attentive detailing that comes from Italian shoemakers. As we sought out partners for our shoe line, our focus was always solely on Italy. We spent months in Italy sourcing the right shoemakers to bring you the highest quality, best styling and unsurpassed value.
Hand Polishing Before and After
Hand polishing gives dramatic effects
The Hall Madden dress shoes uses three types of construction. First, the Blake Rapid stitch is used on our Casual series. Slightly cheaper to do than our other methods, the shoe can still be resoled.
Our Signature series offers a Goodyear welt. This provides more comfort and durability and can also be easily resoled. This behind-the-scenes video will help you visually understand our Goodyear welt construction. The machine used in this process is where the name is derived (yes, the same as the famous tire company).
Finally, our Handmade line uses a "handmade Goodyear" welt. This is a bit of a misleading name, but it's commonly used in the industry. The welt is sewn by hand to replicate the style of stitching done by the Goodyear machine, even though no machine is actually used.
Not all leather is equal, even if it comes from the same animal. Quality can vary starting with the cowhide used, how it was tanned, polished and finished. Poor quality leather is often stated as "polished leather" or "corrected grain calf". These types of leather have undergone buffing and sanding to get rid of imperfections in the leather. This removes the surface grain of the leather and will not patina or last as long. Good quality leather is typically known as "full grain" and is rarer simply because the hides must be in perfect condition with no natural blemishes -- meaning the cow hasn't been bitten by insects, scarred by barb wire, etc. Because fewer such hides are available, they are priced higher and used only in finer footwear.
Hides are then taken to a tannery. Renowned tanneries exist across the world, including Italy, Spain, England, Japan and even right in Chicago, Illinois. The tanning process is complex and varies across tanneries, but the end result provides the finished leather you see on shoes you wear. Our leathers come sourced from Tuscany, which when we compared to other cheaper leathers (i.e. Bangladesh), it had a richer depth of color and better surface.