The Shoe Snob Blog

November 13, 2017

Lies in the Shoe Industry – Handmade, Middlemen, Top leather etc.

Edward Green courtesy of Skoaktiebolaget


****brands in post pics are not culprits of what the topic discusses***

It’s amazing the amount of crap you read these days about handmade this, no middlemen that, the best leather in the world etc. I feel that automatically if you read that on a website or ad, you should simply not believe it, especially when the shoe is for only $200-$300. And it makes me fear for humanity’s intelligence when they actually believe this crap and are going around telling people that their shoes are handmade. Come on people!! Common sense, the art of deduction and pure logic would tell you that a shoe made in Europe cannot be handmade at this price when a handmade shoe usually takes around 40-60 man-hours of work (conservatively speaking) from the second you are ready to cut the leather.

Assuming someone only gets paid €5/hour (I am using Euros as that is where most shoes are made that are claiming ‘handmade’), that shoe would have a manual labor cost of around €200-€300. Add the factory who sold the shoe’s mark up (aka wholesale price) and that would make the cost to said brand peddling these lies around €400-€600 (the factory usually likes to at least double their money). And then after the industry standard mark up of 2.6-2.7X (but let’s just say that they are only doubling their money for the sake of argument), that would make the shoes the price of €800-€1200 at retail. And that is only assuming the pay of workers is at €5/hour, which is on the low end of the reality stick. And not even taking into account the cost of the leather/materials.

Now let’s just say that having a production line of workers cuts your production time down by 25% making it around 30-45 hours per pair and a grand total of €600-€900 retail price, yet somehow they are able to sell these so-called handmade shoes for only $299.99???? What did I miss there?


Main D’or

Gaziano & Girling

And then the brand says, there are no ‘middlemen!!!’ What middlemen? As a brand buying from the factory and then reselling, by definition of the idea of a middleman, that brand is said middleman. It’s simply a joke and is quite hilarious that companies even use this gimmickry and even worse that consumers read it and then believe it. Only a factory making their own line of shoes and selling it directly to the customer can claim ‘no middlemen’ as James Fox of C&J said in his interview (see the last post). Yet this is the new trend of all of these cheap brands, peddling copycat shoes selling for pennies, claiming handmade production and trying to convince the consumers that they are the honest brand in the industry? Ha!! It’s laughable, to say the least.

The fact of the matter is business is business and margins are margins. If you don’t have a margin that sustains growth, you go out of business. Never allow anyone to con you of that. There is no charity in business and selling a product. Brands are doing so to make money. The problem is when you are willing to sell your soul and lie through your teeth to make that sale. And like I said, the truly sad thing and what destroys the industry is when so-called intelligent people believe it and then expect it when they should not. Shoes at $300 are not handmade and not using the best nor most expensive leather. Shoes at $600 are not even handmade either. In fact, allow me to say right now that no shoes in the Western World sold at any major department store are handmade.

And the big problem is that with how connected we are these days with everything being a click away, the world starts to believe these grand lies, that you can get handmade shoes at $300, shipped free worldwide (as if that doesn’t cost someone some money), using the best leather in the world and having no middlemen. The reality is that this cannot last and all of these companies thinking that they are one-upping the competition and the customer are really only digging themselves early graves when their so-called handmade shoes fall apart and then the next company that comes out does one better and pushes them out of the market.

Crockett & Jones – Bryan Cuero patina

Dandy Shoe Care patina

David Balzaic

I love my country (USA), I love the idea of the American dream, I love American work ethic and the great marketing abilities that my country has (when honest), but I hate that the majority of these lies comes from American based companies who are getting cheap shoes from Spain or Italy and peddling them as the greatest gift to the shoe industry and the American consumer eats those lies up like they are candy. Just like the lie that cedar shoe trees are the best in the world, especially for absorbing moisture. Another American con to try and sell the over-abundant wood that we have in our country (this will come in another post). No other country peddles Cedar shoe trees like the US does.

The fact is, all shoes with the exception of very very very few (mainly made in Eastern Europe) are made in a factory, with shoemaking machines that are simply controlled by a human who is guiding the shoe through the machine, but not doing the actual labor themselves. And that is NOT handmade. That is factory production!!! And believe it or not, there are some very low-quality shoes coming out of Europe, so don’t be fooled.

And until all of you, the consumers start to call them on their crap and stop going around telling others that your shoes are handmade when they are not, this will never change. And it must change, as these lies hurt the industry. Don’t believe everything you read or hear from a salesman when it/they are trying to sell you something!!

Hiro Yanagimachi

George Cleverley

Gaziano & Girling

Gaziano & Girling