The Shoe Snob Blog

April 1, 2014

Written by , Posted in News

Carmina – The Review

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I have always loved and respected Carmina shoes and what they do as a company. While I don’t think that Spanish shoemaking as a whole is the best in the world, I definitely don’t think that it deserves its reputation for inferiority either (Spanish shoemaking, not Carmina), particularly because of the actual good shoemakers that are out there making brilliant shoes, Carmina being among the best, if not THE BEST. I make my own shoes in Spain, that is no secret, and while many doubters and naysayers may think that this idea gives me a hidden agenda, well you can believe me if you want, but it doesn’t. What is important to me is that recognition is given where it is due. And Carmina definitely deserves recognition for what they do.

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Love the purple lining...great color and looks brilliant!

Love the purple lining…great color and looks brilliant!

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I love English and Italian shoemaking and I will say that G&G are probably my favorites, but what I feel that has happened in the day we live in now is this idea of “Made in England” and “Made in Italy” not longer hold the weight that it used to but people are still blinded by the illusion of it (just like people thinking that the major designer brands make the “best” quality products) and thus make assumptions and decisions based on that blindness. Made in Spain or Made in Romania or even Vietnam (believe it or not) can mean the same thing. Making shoes is no longer comes from the pride of one’s country to be the best, but rather the pride of certain individuals (no matter what race their are) and ensuring that their factories are making the best shoes they can.

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Saint Crispins shoes for example are extremely well constructed but made in a country that I am sure many people will turn their noses up to. And NOBODY in the world can deny their quality. If they did it would simply have to do with their origin as there could be no other reason. This is the problem that I am trying to stop. Because good things can be made anywhere, even China, the Amazon or your backyard garage. It’s about the passion of the people, not the reputation of the country. And Carmina, for me, has been the driving factor of this idea as the Albaladejo family has been making good shoes for a very long time, but in reality have not received their proper due. So here I am to tell you that Carmina makes among the finest shoes in the world, for a steal of a price.

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In reality there is nothing that I can say about the quality of the shoe that is negative. The shoes were perfect and well presented. The only thing that for me was a bit off, and maybe it was because I did end up getting a size that was a bit too small, was the fact that the heel felt a bit low. Based on that, I felt that if I would have taken the 7, which would have fit better in my forefoot, would have made my feel pop out for not gripping it properly. But other than that, everything was flawless and it is impressive to see what they can offer for only €325, a pricepoint that just might make them the most undervalued shoe in the world. For me they are worth the price (being in comparison with the industry) of a £600 shoe. I would almost be willing to say that they are on the level of Edward Green, but maybe in reality just shy of them. Either way, I am impressed with their level of craftsmanship and definitely feel that if not to recognize Spain, one (if not all) should at least recognize Carmina as one of the greats of the industry.

By the way, if you will be in NYC on April 3rd or 4th, Carmina will be doing their first trunk show at the new ArmouryNYC. So if you have yet to see their shoes in person and you are in NYC during those dates, that would be your chance!

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look at those white feet!!

look at those white feet!!

  • Christian

    I’m happy with Carmina. The shoes look good, feel good . I will always choose Carmina over many other famous brands.
    Their Cordovan’s are just beautiful.

  • RogerP

    Carmina has a reputation for inferiority? It’s certainly not evident in the half dozen or so pairs that I own. Excellent quality for their price point, in my estimation. And while their shoes are impressive, their boots are even more so. I second Christian’s comment on their shell cordovan offerings – beautiful and diverse in the both styles and colours offered. I can’t immediately think of another brand that can offers shell in ruby red, loden green and navy blue.

    • TheShoeSnob

      no, not Carmina. I was referring to “Spanish Shoemaking” as a whole. I have now edited it to make it more clear so nobody else thinks that…but yes, amazing shoes and even better pricing! Love the color cordovans too!

      • RogerP

        Okay – thanks – misread on my part.

  • Nick D.

    I have 2 pairs of Carminas, & I love them. I wish I could afford more, esp. the new heritage edition spectators made for Sweden’s Skoaktiebolaget.

  • LT

    Interesting article. I cannot “personally” speak to Carmina but they are certainly beautiful shows. Welcome to the world of “modern day” marketing. The power of the brand, based on its ability to create awareness, perceived quality, mental associations, and loyalty, is challenged today. Today’s marketing is about the absolute value of the experience of the product. So to your point Justin, the place of origin will no longer be as impactful as in the past. What will count most is customer experience, determined by passion of the artist, craftsmanship, service, and overall quality as confirmed by a global community which can easily share comments (negative and positive alike), about the actual and overall product experience.

    • TheShoeSnob

      thanks for sharing LT, good points!

  • Andrey

    Carminas are great, but their e-commerce site is next to imposible to use.

  • Rich

    I bought a pair of Shell Cardovan black whole-cut laces (Rain last) after seeing my taylor with a few pairs and he recommended them. Agree the e-commerce site is useless but people at the factory are very helpful. These are the best shoes i have ever owned – i ordered them and had them delivered to my hotel on a recent business trip – they were 1 of 2 black lace ups i toured in through the US East Coast and Europe – walking in cold miserable and wet conditions – i have never owned a pair of shoes this comfortable and the Cardovan really is worth the money. I will certainly buy more but interested in whether the septieme largeur cardovan boots and shoes are of equal quality as i really like the look of these and very keen to purchase a few pairs

    • Mike

      I have septieme largeur shoes and carmina too. I can say that Carmina are really higher and the leather is best quality !

  • Domino

    I was expecting a glowing review of some boxy Perry Ellis boot for April Fool’s day.

    That said, they have some great looking shoes on their site (thought Andrey is right, it’s not a well designed one). I especially love the Vegano boot in suede and calf they did.

    • TheShoeSnob

      haha, I should have done that…too busy these days to be that clever though

  • Woodsie

    Check http://www.skoaktiebolaget.se they offer a Wide range of Carmina in their webshop.

  • Matt

    Justin, I’m just off to Madrid for a couple of days and wondered if you had any recommendations of shoe companies I should check out. Meermin and Carmina are on the list already.
    Thanks as always for the work with the blog,Matt

    • TheShoeSnob

      matt, I am really sorry that I did not respond to this earlier. I hope that you had a great time and found something…the only other make i would have suggested was Yanko….not sure if they even have a shop there though…

  • ua2

    Does carmina use a metal shank like alden or wood like C&J?

  • Jeremy FIsher

    I used to think, and to a degree still do with goods other than shoes, that where a product is made as long as the quality is high doesn’t matter. However, based on that logic, I have bought and have had bad experiences with Grensons and Loakes made in India. Even my Allen Edmonds are noticeably inferior to their similarly priced English counterparts. I definitely think that being made in England/Northampton makes a big difference. Personally I put it down to the quality and experience of labour. Having visited the factory shops and having had the chance to talk to some of the shoemakers, almost everyone who works in the Northampton factories seem to do it because it is a family vocation (with grandparents and great grandparents in the shoe industry being very common) and have years and, in most cases, decades of experience.

    That said, I don’t really buy the most expensive of shoes (Crockett Jones are as expensive as I am willing to go) so it may be completely different at higher price points.