— Harmony Korine (via clifs)
A few months ago I was given the opportunity to receive a complimentary pair of shoes from relative newcomer to the men’s dress shoe market, Milanese-based Italian company Velasca. I accepted, and set my conditions, as usual, agreeing that I would provide a frank an honest assessment of the shoes on this blog after some trial wear.
Well, I’ve been told the new F/W collection of Velasca shoes is going to launch soon, so I figured this was a pretty good time to share some of my thoughts on the L’Innamoraa double monk.
Velasca makes their Blake Rapid construction shoes by hand in Italy. The website boasts several great videos documenting the whole process, and I must say it seems like a quaint little operation. For European customers, the shipping is free both ways—which makes the shoes an incredibly solid value—but for U.S. buyers, VAT is excluded but international FedEx shipping costs are tagged on, which means you’re looking at spending something closer to the ~$250 range.
This places the shoes squarely in the same price camp as Allen Edmonds on sale, Meermin, and a little more than Jack Erwin’s full retail price. What I really like about Velasca, however, is their wide line-up of shoes that runs the gamut from driving moccasins, through boat shoes, and includes some great looking chukkas and suede penny loafers as well—which are currently on a pretty good sale. Also, the color variations from Velasca set them apart from the aforementioned brands (with the exception of Meermin), especially in the suede department.
I chose the brown suede L’Innamoraa for a couple of reasons: I’d been looking for some suede double monks, and I really liked the look of the oval buckle on the shoe. When the shoes arrived the packaging was thoughtfully executed. The box had survived the trans-Atlantic voyage well, and the shoe box inside was in perfect shape. Velasca sends its shoes out with nice burlap (I’m not certain that’t the make-up, but it seems like burlap to me) shoe bags, which should be standard for a dress shoe in this price range.
Upon close inspection, the finishing of these shoes was very nice. I did not notice a stray stitch or wayward globule of glue. It was definitely comparable to my experiences with Meermin (albeit limited), and if my shoe is an indicator, perhaps more consistently finished than Allen Edmonds (of which I’ve handled many). The suede is much nicer than I’ve seen on some less expensive dress shoes, and very similar to the suede Allen Edmonds in my rotation, including a pair made for Ralph Lauren. I did spray a few coats of Obenauf’s suede protector on these, and it gave them a little gloss which doesn’t look as nice as they originally came, but I imagine that would go away with a nice brushing.
I ordered a size 43 based on Velasca’s sizing guide, and the shoes fit very comfortably. For reference, I wear a size 10D in most Allen Edmonds and Alden’s Barrie last, and have not had my foot Brannock sized since I was a little kid. One thing I’ve noticed about these compared to some other dress shoes I own is that the sole is quite stiff. It isn’t any less comfortable for it—they’re actually more comfortable than many other dress shoes I own—but it is noticeable.
My only point of contention with these shoes is that I have a hard time buckling the the back strap with the shoe on my foot. It’s not impossible, but for some reason it doesn’t want to buckle easily. To be honest, and much to my chagrin, this has meant that the lazy me takes over and I am now a violator of my own injunction against ever wearing a double monk with the back strap undone. In the L’innamoraa’s defense, it buckles fine when it’s not on my foot, which suggests it’s my own inflexibility that could be at fault.
Overall, I think that Velasca is a great new addition to the ~$200-$250 men’s dress shoe market. This is more the case if you’re looking for a more affordable suede double monk like the L’innamoraa, as that style and fabrication is a bit rarer in this price range.
They’ve got some great sales going on now, which means even for U.S. customers there’s some pretty great deals to be had (I’d snag the aforementioned suede loafers if I didn’t already own a similar pair from RL) that will have the shoe delivered to your door for under $200.
As I mentioned earlier, the F/W collection is dropping early next month, and the pictures I’ve seen suggest that there’s great stuff in store. Not only will some new models and leathers be made available, but offering customers the option of rubber vibram soles over leather ones will become standard as well. Velasca is definitely a company I’d bookmark.
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The bass player in my college jazz ensemble was one funny and eccentric dude. He had a knack for saying the most inappropriate, but hilarious, things at just the right (or wrong) time, and had a pretty raw and/or disgusting sense of humor. He also had a very distinct and unapologetic sense of personal style. One of his favorite items was a pair of black parachute pants with tons of zippers. Straight from the 80s. Being that it was the mid-90s, the rest of the rhythm section used to give him a ridiculously hard time. His response was, “Hey, man, fashion is cyclical. You know, the 60s are in right now. Just wait, you’ll be paying top dollar for these in like 20 years!” While I’m not sure about the latter, he was definitely right about the former—fashion is cyclical. And I’ve seen a lot of 1970s influence recently.
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I know there are some people who swear by thrifting and vintage shopping. I’m not one of them. It’s not that I don’t like doing the vintage thing, it’s just that I’ve never really had much luck. Part of the reason is that I’ve got a relatively smaller build. At 5’9”, 140lbs, and a 36” chest, it’s rare that I’ll find a garment that fits. And when you’re talking about suits, there’s nothing you can really do if the shoulders and chest don’t fit other than look like you’re wearing a suit that’s too big, which is worth several thumbs down emoticons. However, when I was in LA this summer, I got extremely lucky.
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