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Thursday, June 14, 2012

When You Want To Know About Shoes, Ask A Shoe Expert.... Like The Shoe Snob, Justin FitzPatrick

The Shoe Snob, Justin FitzPatrick. Photograph by Adrian Lourie

Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to write about shoes?
My name is Justin FitzPatrick. Occupation: Shoe designer, shoe polish expert, shoe blog author among other things relating to shoes. I came to write my blog for two reasons: 1. To help educate men in the field of high quality footwear as well as to create a dedicated source to men’s shoes and 2. To build brand recognition in preparation for the release of my shoe line, which ultimately would create demand for my product before it was even released.

What aspect of shoe making thrills you the most? Is it the design, the finish or the construction?
The whole process really. Seeing how the design comes to life (into a tangible product) is what fascinates me. But in order to get to that, there has to be all of the in-between, which is fascinating in itself.

Which shoe maker most inspires you?
Tony Gaziano. I remember the very first time that I saw a pair of his shoes, in one of their first pieces of publicity in Robb Report, back in 2006 I believe. I was so astonished by the beauty of the shoe and told myself that I wanted to emulate them, as I just knew that they were going to be a huge success in the industry. And since that time, everything that Tony does continues to impress and inspire me.

Is there a particular kind of shoe which you most enjoy – a Chelsea boot? Brogues, Oxfords? Derbys? Can you give us a run down on your shoe collection and what you have a natural inclination towards finding.
Oxfords for sure, whether it is a shoe or boot. The closed lacing, for me, represents elegance at its finest. My shoe collection is quite a monster. It used to be so much more, but ever since I moved to Italy and then to England, I have had to scale back so much, being down to probably around 75-80 pairs now. Of those, probably 35 are “dress shoes” and the rest being trainers (anything from Vans to Ferragamo sneakers), boat shoes and driving loafers. Of my dress shoes I have one derby, one chukka boot, two balmoral boots and the rest either loafers or oxfords. Sad enough, I don’t own one monk strap anymore….

In your opinion, are the best shoes French, English or Italian? Can you explain to us a little, if there is any, in the subtle differences and nuances between one nation’s manufacturing and another. If there is a difference, can you put this in words as a national identity…. An Italian shoe is……
This is a very difficult question and depends on what you are referring to when you say a ‘shoe’. For RTW, I believe that the English make the best, and for bespoke, it is probably a toss up between France and Japan.
An English shoe is well made and practical. Made to last, but be elegant at the same time.
An Italian shoe is meant to draw attention and be comfortable, as if you weren’t wearing anything. It’s light in weight but also in construction and leather. It therefore lacks in durability…but looks good
French shoes are a marriage of both worlds, only that their RTW in my opinion is not as good as some of their English counterparts i.e. Gaziano & Girling, Edward Green and John Lobb.

Patine or patina is very highly regarded, who in the world do you think produces the best patines? Berluti? Corthay?
I would have to say Corthay. Their work is far more elaborate than Berluti. They can do a patina on patent leather, something unique to them. But in my opinion the best patina artists do not fall in the hands of a company but rather two artists in Paris: Paulus Bolten and Hom Nguyen.

Pierre Corthay Patina Colours

What kind of dress shoe would you choose for formal wear and evening wear?
I would wear a black wholecut with the best shine ever…don’t like to be like everyone else and wear the typical patent shoe. Or even some navy shoe….I like to bend the rules, as you might know.

What are your most prized pair of shoes?
I will give two, as one of them I made myself and that might seem as biased.
The first is the saddle shoe that I made in black with the red saddle. This shoe defines me and my style .The second is actually a collaboration between me and Gaziano & Girling, in which I designed the shoe, Tony Gaziano made the pattern and then put the shoe together on his DG70 last, using the Deco (semi-handmade) construction.

Here are other great shoes referred to by Justin FitzPatrick

Septieme Largeur Shoes -  A Parisian shoe maker

An English shoe by Edward Green

An Oxford by Anthony Delos, French shoe maker

Paolo Scafora Shoes - An Italian maker

Yohei Fukada Hand-Made Bespoke Japanese Shoes

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