Scarpe Fatte a Mano Part 2 - Stefano Bemer

A shoe is an object which, if of excellent quality, helps us to walk and live more comfortably. When made from high quality materials and using excellent craftsmanship, it becomes a product that pleases us and stands out from the inevitable globalization of brands and industrially manufactured products.
                                                                                                                     - Stefano Bemer

Stefano Bemer is a world-renowned shoemaker from Florence, Italy. Founded in 1983, they have committed themselves to quality and refinement, combining both bespoke and ready to wear footwear.

Part owner Tommaso Melani invited me to see their beautiful workshop while I was in Europe last month and I jumped at the opportunity. While I was visiting I met another part owner in the business, Filippo, who showed me around the beautiful space that the company occupies in old Florence.

The upstairs area of Stefano Bemer is devoted to a training school, which runs for only 6 months per year. Only a select few graduates will even get the chance to move downstairs and work for the company after they qualify.

Whilst there, Filippo showed me a Russian Reindeer hide (pictured below) that dates back to 1786. Found in the hull of a sunken ship, only specialized leather artisans were given access to this material. A pair of these shoes will set you back 6,000 euros!

(Russian Reindeer Leather)

(Shoe making school)

(My pick of the bunch, love these!)

(Elephant hide)

(Shark Hide)

Stefano Bemer bespoke shoes are a very high standard for quality and utter dedication to detail. The shoes are made entirely by hand. For their RTW (ready to wear) collection every step bar the welting is done by hand, both sharing the exact quality of materials used, techniques, personalization and packaging; rendering it 95% bespoke on a standard sized last.

From the upper leather all the way to oak shanks and cotton laces, only certified organic materials are used. As for leather selection - you can get anything from your standard Italian and French calf to Japanese shark, Elephant, Hippo and African Antelope - It's completely up to the clients imagination. 

(Replica official basketball leather)


The Glove Fits - Aaron Cheung

It is the accuracy and detail inherent in crafted goods that endows them with lasting value. It is the time and attention paid by the carpenter, the seamstress and the tailor that makes this detail possible.
                                                                 - Tim Jackson

The word ‘bespoke’ gets thrown around a lot these days; so much so that I’m sure most of us have forgotten the real meaning of the term.

For those of us who’ve been taught the value of genuine bespoke goods and know the workmanship and training that go into crafting these one off pieces, having access to custom feels really special.

Luckily for me, I happen to consider Mr. Aaron Cheung a very good friend. As well as working with Australian companies Herringbone and Henry Bucks (not to mention his time with Hong Kong’s The Armoury) Aaron also designs a range of custom leather gloves.

When you go into a consultation with Aaron you’re presented with an array of beautiful leathers (Peccary, Carpincho, Deer Skin and Lamb) in a variety of colours. If choosing shade and texture wasn't hard enough, you're then faced with the tough decision of what style of glove you’d like, from the wrist connection through to lining and how you’d like them stitched.

 Aaron takes numerous measurements and within 4 weeks (give or take) you’re presented with an amazing addition to your wardrobe that actually does "fit like a glove".


Shirt or Jacket?

Style is the perfection of a point of view.
                                          - Richard Eberhart

The sun just keeps coming and going and that can only mean one thing here in Melbourne. It's spring. 

Like Crowded House once sang, this city’s pretty well known for its “four seasons in one day” and spring is no exception to that rule. If you stand still in the shade for too long the temperature plummets but if you walk around in the sun you’ll soon be peeling off layers. So how do I decide what to wear during this erratic weather? Do I leave my apartment in just a shirt? Do I still carry a jacket? Maybe I need both...

I’ve just started getting into the habit of wearing shirt jackets. They’re the more casual version of a sports jacket and because they’re less structured they generally feel a bit lighter, especially if you can find one in a nice cotton or linen. Shirt jackets are perfect for that little extra layer of warmth you might need without adding too much bulk to your outfit.

The one I'm wearing in these photos is from Denham the jean maker, a brand renowned for innovative design. This shirt jacket is made from recycled textile taken from French military linen mattress covers, making it really unique. The material is hardy, while feeling remarkably soft. It's super versatile and easily my favourite garment right now. 


Interview – Vicki Vasilopoulos, Director of Men Of The Cloth

Presented as part of the cultural program for Melbourne Spring Fashion Week, ACMI’s annual ‘Fashion on Film’ season premieres this weekend with the new feature length fashion documentary by Vicki Vasilopoulos.

Men Of The Cloth focuses on three Italian tailors working New York City. Nino Corvato, Checchino Fonticoli and Joe Centofanti share a devotion to their craft while facing challenges due to the changing nature of their business. I was lucky enough be able to ask Vicki a few questions about the documentary and the culture that surrounds the world of bespoke tailoring.

Can you please give a brief description about your background before “Men of the Cloth”.

Before embarking on filming Men Of The Cloth I was a men’s fashion editor for the trade magazine DNR (now a part of Women’s Wear Daily). And then I worked as a freelance writer covering style, arts and culture.

What was your main inspiration to make this film?

Since high school, I’ve loved studying sociology and anthropology. That’s why I went into journalism. And fashion has been a lifelong love of mine. I’ve always been fascinated by visual artists and artisans – and the beautiful, handmade things that they create. They imbue them with their very essence and passion.

As a fashion editor, I saw how our culture exalts “status” purchases with little intrinsic value. By contrast, my characters embody an Old World tradition that exalts the individual and values artistry above any financial gain. Nino, Joe and Checchino are not only supremely accomplished in their trade –they’re also charismatic and sympathetic. I see Men Of The Cloth as akin to the Slow Food of clothing, and these gentlemen’s personal stories were my true inspiration for the film. They’re unsung heroes, and I wanted to celebrate their craft.

How did you find out about Nino, Checchino and Joe?

I found Nino, Checchino and Joe through good old research, the journalist’s stock in trade. I met Checchino first on a trip to Italy where I was reporting on the luxury market. He gave me a tour of the Brioni factory and school in the town of Penne, and then introduced me to his cousin, who was the last remaining independent tailor in town. I immediately became hooked. I couldn’t help thinking that craftsmen of his background and caliber were like the last tribe of the Kalahari. That planted a seed that would take eleven years to take shape and come to fruition as a completed film.

What were your thoughts about bespoke tailoring before making this film?

I always had an appreciation for fine men’s tailored clothing when I worked as a fashion editor and produced photo spreads, but I was not intimately acquainted with the bespoke process. Making the film was a crash course in this art.

I know in Australia particularly bespoke tailoring is a dying art. What are your thoughts about American culture and tailoring?

There’s been an upswing in interest in bespoke tailoring in America, especially for younger men who have discovered the great pleasure that can be derived from dressing up and from collaborating with a tailor to get a custom suit that will last a lifetime. I think part of the appeal is that you’re breaking the rules (by not buying off the rack) and there’s also the appeal of experiencing a different aesthetic value system that makes you stand apart.

Do you think the upcoming generations will want to take on this type of work?

In my experience, the younger generation is most definitely interested in learning bespoke tailoring. They attend all my screenings – from New York, to Chicago to Amsterdam and Toronto. But there are very few master tailors left who can devote the time and resources to train this next wave of artisans.

What are you hoping this film will do to the cultivation of bespoke tailoring?

I hope that Men Of The Cloth heightens the interest in bespoke tailoring, but more importantly, I hope that it creates a cross-generational dialogue on how to “solve “ the dilemma of carrying on this craft for a younger generation.

Final question, any future films my readers should look out for?

Men Of The Cloth had its World Premiere last November at DOC NYC, the largest documentary film festival in the USA. That feels like yesterday! Since then I’ve been deep in the throes of doing festival and theatrical screenings in the U.S. and abroad, which has entailed a great deal of travel on my part. That doesn’t leave much time for rest or developing other projects! But I’ve unexpectedly started pre-production on my next film (and shooting in the Midwest the same week as my screenings at the ACMI). The film explores the impact of a non-profit organization working to help children in Africa. I’m also developing a personal film that relates to my Greek heritage.


Back to Work

Well, my holiday is over and I'm well and truly back to the daily grind. To say a huge thank you to all of my old and new followers, I've teamed up with the folk at  Eastdane.com to give all of you the chance to win one of 4 x $50 gift vouchers.

For those who aren't familiar with Eastdane, they are the brother store to Shopbop.com and sell a wide variety of brands including Gant Rugger, Drakes, Filson, Loake 1880 and Wolverine 1000 Mile footwear. To top it all off they offer free 3 day shipping worldwide - You can't get a better deal than that these days!

Because they carry so many of my favourite brands, I've been creating my own wishlist from the products available on the website. That, combined with the fact that they currently have a 50% Off Men's promotional offer means that I may soon find myself indulging in a little bit of online shopping.

Here's a list of my current top 3 Blazers :

 Pique Blazer by Aspesi
Cotton DB Blazer by Jack Spade

Cotton Blazer by GANT Rugger

To be in the running to win one of four $50 East Dane vouchers all you have to do is:

Follow both APMMillions & EastDane on Instagram
Choose your favourite looks on Eastdane.com
Leave a comment on this post telling me what you'd spend your $50 voucher on!

*this competition has now ended*