The Shoe Snob Blog

May 14, 2012

Written by , Posted in News

Carmina – The Spanish Conquistadors

As some of you may remember, a little while back I had the pleasure of being involved in one of The Armoury’s trunk shows, located here in London. At that trunk show, I had the first opportunity to truly appreciate the level of shoes that Carmina produces. Prior to this, I was always hearing about Carmina shoes but never really had the ability to judge them for myself, other than shining an old pair for a customer (but that doesn’t really count!). As I had always heard positive things about them, you can imagine that I was quite curious to see what all the hype was about. Little did I know that I was going to be in for a big surprise.

Upon arriving at the trunk show, I was met with the display of shoes that you see at the top of this post. Being the ‘little kid in the candy shop’ that I can be, I was in awe of almost every pair and began touching, analyzing, smelling the leather and pretty much everything else that I could to take in (and mentally record) the shoes’ quality. Not long after, the daughter of the present owner (and possibly founder) came in and we began discussing much about the brand, who I was, and my future shoe line (as I was no doubt wearing a pair of my own). She was a very kind woman (who handles much of the business side of things) and it was very nice to actually meet someone from the Albaladejo family, a family that I believe to be synonymous with high quality footwear.

Even though I was not in the market to buy anything (as I need another shoe like I need a hole in the head), I couldn’t help but try them on just to see how they measured up to other brands. They had two lasts on hand, one being the Simpson (my favorite – shown here) and the other being the Robert (I believe?? – not found on the website), which was a bit more conservatively elegant and rounded. Both of them fit me surprisingly well. I say that because I have quite a narrow foot and many shoes seem to be a bit spacious on me, yet these were not in least. They were a very sturdy shoe, on the verge of being stiff, but also signifying, for me, a well-made shoe that could last a lifetime! Not only were they well made, but very comfortable in the fitting as well i.e. in the way that they hugged my arch. I felt supported properly, something that is quite important when buying leather soled dress shoes that you might spend a whole day in.

I have said this before, and I am going to say it again: shoes made in Spain are on their way up. They can make shoes that are just as good as their English counterparts, at least within the mid-range of high end footwear, think Crockett & Jones and comparable. Carminas, for me rival C&J Hangrade, but cost a whole lot less, significantly less, and I dare might say that while the leathers they use might be a bit stiffer, their level of making just might rival an entry level Edward Green. I know this is bold to say, but I can’t help but tell you that it is true. As the Spanish continue to make footwear and climb the echelons of quality, I dare to say that one day you will find them rivaling the best of them, being able to produce handgrade footwear with all of the bells and whistles that separate the lates from the greats! Mark my word….

Carmina Shoes Available Online: Here or at
The Amoury

  • AFJ

    Looks great. Especially their loafers.

  • Evan

    I also went to the London trunk show.

    Note that many of the shoes on the elegant Simpson last are made for The Armoury specifically and are not available in the Carmina webstore. This is disappointing as the Simpson is the stand-out last (as the Shoe Snob attests).

  • Sants

    Hi Evan,

    I live in Barcelona, and I can tell you they have Simpson-lasted shoes in their Barcelona store.

    Justin – Great blog! Let me add that the Rain last is great for people who like the looks of the Simpson last, but have wider foot.

    By the way, I happen to have three pairs of Carmina shoes, and really like them.

    • PHoenix Kiula

      Rain is much rounder, and in person looks uglier than in person. Pretty much the only last from Carmina that comes close to the styling of a G&G or a Vass U-last is the Simpson last. All else is a bit, um, stodgy and perhaps more suited to the regular American male, not an Italian or Japanese one.

  • AFJ – Indeed…

    Evan – Thanks for sharing Evan, I did not know…

    Sants – Thanks for the info Sants! Glad that you enjoy the blog, thanks for reading!

    -Justin

  • Anonymous

    Hi Justin,
    There is no doubt at all, the guys at Carmina make great shoes!
    John

  • Hi Justin,

    Not sure if you have heard about the new shoe company in Spain: Meermin.? It’s owned by the same family as Carmina, but apparently they have a completely different operation. If you have heard of Meermin what are your thoughts on the quality of their shoes?

  • Good Will Rabbit – I definitely have heard of them and have seen them online, but have never had the pleasure of handling them in person, so unfortunately I cannot comment on their quality….I can say that since they are from the Carmina family (who believe strongly in quality) then they must be decent!

    -Justin

  • Hi Justin,

    Thanks for the input.

  • Juancho

    I have quite a few pairs, first one I bought was when they were better known as Albaladejos. You are right. They are great shoes at great prices! Have the cordovan leather monk strap simpsons shown above. Very sturdy yet comfortable. Wish they were easier to find around here (US) but have to wait to go to Madrid to buy. A man can never have too many shoes!! Great blog site!

  • Daniel

    I totally agree Justin. I have one pair of brogued toe caps atm on the Simpson last and couldn’t be happier. They’re definitely a touch better quality than C&J imo.