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An expert on his favorite British shoe brands and Italian shoemakers

An expert on his favorite British shoe brands and Italian shoemakers

For our second article in the series interviewing an authority on men’s style, we reached one of our partners in Italy (who shall remain nameless) to pick his brain about the best British shoe brands and Italian shoemakers for men, and why he recommends them.

If you missed the interview with Salvatore Piccolo about Neapolitan shirts, read here.

First, what are your favorite shoes of all time?

The brown calf loafer Lopez from John Lobb—they’re my favorite shoes. You can find the entire John Lobb collection on italist for well under retail pricing. They’re never on sale elsewhere and they last forever.

Is it worth spending on expensive British shoe brands or Italian shoemakers?

Yes, take Red Wing (below) for example, their boots last twenty years in good condition, minimum. Their price, spread out over twenty years, equates to about $1.50 per month. These are the calculations that we need to learn to do without continuing to waste money on fast-fashion, seasonal shoes. Shoes that may be beautiful but don’t last long.

red wing boots on italist

Or Tricker’s, the oldest company in the world that has been making Goodyear shoes in England since 1829. I have had a pair from 2007 that I still use: as we say in Italy “he who spends more, spends less.” 

Furthermore, in addition to lasting decades, you can take them to Tricker’s to have them completely resoled and they come back certified by the manufacturer’s factory all over again. It’s amazing!

Discover Italian shoemakers on italist

Can you give us 3 tips for keeping an important pair of shoes in good shape?

1 – Use the wooden last (we call them a “shoe tree” in the US) that comes with nicer pairs of shoes, it preserves the shape, removes humidity, when you go home you take off the shoe and put it on. If you don’t receive a set with your shoes, buy them.

2 – A different pair of shoes per day, or seven pairs of shoes for seven days of the week. It was once recommended not to use the same shoe for more than two days in a row, and the advice still applies.

3 – If you have the desire and passion, there are all types of polishing materials but pay attention to the quality, for example the Japanese Boot Black creams are the best possible choice.

Learn more about how to care for your leather shoes.

What are the must have British shoe brands in a shoe enthusiast’s wardrobe?

The Tricker’s “Henry” model boots are available in 7 colors, and are a must have for comfort and lightness. The quintessential men’s Chelsea boot. They can be worn with a suit but are also good for casual dressing for free time—even better with a light Vibram sole.

tricker's british shoe brands on italist

The double buckle “William” model by John Lobb. There’s 85 years of history in the double buckle, unique without elastic but all stitched. Available with different soles, there is also a high one in the William II boot version, unlined with Dainite sole. John Lobb makes many limited editions, numbered, unique pieces, to be loved and cherished. Learn more about John Lobb.

Church’s “Fairfield” model is an oxford shoe in suede with crepe sole or in the “high” version, i.e. the timeless Ryder 3. Both in suede with crepe soles, suitable for any leisure or mountain surface. Learn more about Church’s shoes.

The historic Galway model by Edward Green is a wintertime best seller. An ankle boot with an important detail: semi-unlined on the inside on the part where it rests on the ankle to make it more comfortable.  It also has a Dainite sole and comes in many color variations.

edward green british shoe brands on italist

The “Belgravia” by Edward Green is very fashionable in Milan’s Brera neighborhood, typical of elegant men, but not for everyone. The detail to note is the crossing of the ribbon that leads to the tassel, which they invented and which is a distinctive sign, you notice it. It’s quite difficult to produce. It’s one of the most beautiful moccasins there is. 

The “Lulworth” moccasin by Edward Green, known as Butterfly loafers in more serious suede and leather. They exemplify unique workmanship, are difficult to find, and are very elegant.

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Tell us about two new classical footwear designs for Spring-Summer 2024 that you like.

My favorite this year is the John Lobb model called “Pace.” It features a rubber sole, super! It’s inspired by the luxurious comfort of bath gloves and the iconic design of the brand’s Lopez loafers, and is John Lobb’s ultimate urban casual soft loafer. The glove construction, coupled with the innovative oval rubber super flex sole and a padded sock, ensures unparalleled lightness, flexibility, and comfort for every step. The padded and subtly stitched saddle not only enhances the overall comfort but also adds a touch of elegance to this exceptional loafer.

Also, the light Church’s “Silverstone” loafer is airbrushed by hand, very light, and an absolute novelty wonder. Traditional elegance and a sporty feel meet in the Silverstone loafer, a streamlined design stemming from the classic college-inspired penny loafer. Crafted from soft nubuck, the silhouette features a flexible construction with lightweight rubber sole, making it perfect for city walks and outdoor weekends. Created as a house slipper for King George VI, the loafer incorporates a sophisticated feel in a practical style.

church's british shoe brands on italist

And now a tip: what to wear for cold places and winter?

My first recommendation, in general, is to avoid leather soles in cold places and winter, because they slip easily.

Otherwise, I recommend Alberto Fasciani footwear for cold and wet seasons. Born as a Italian shoemakers of riding boots, from the Marché district of Italy, a true guarantee of Made in Italy footwear excellence. Elegant and solid with an Italian cut, in particular the Norwegian ankle boot with triple hook in water-brushed or soft, comfortable shiny calfskin: the more you use it the more beautiful it becomes and the real gem is the high and very solid rubber sole with special leather insert. See below.

alberto fasciani boots on italist

What do you recommend instead for a super elegant event?

Bowhill and Elliott of Norwich, England. The company has 7 employees in total, each shoe has been made entirely by hand since 1874. For me it is the synonym of the velvet slipper, super elegant, super dandy. It’s the shoe that completes the look in a spectacular way: we start from there because the man looks at him from the feet up.

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You should have one in your wardrobe for a gala event or to use at home like a true dandy. Apparently very simple but with a very accurate construction. The details are sensational, all the embroidery is handmade, matélassé workmanship on the inside, leather sole and satin piping that follows the entire shoe which ends with a leather detail in the heel. Fantastic!

You can also find many similar styles of formal and dandy velvet slippers on italist.

Can you recommend some Italian shoemakers with the best quality-to-price ratio?

Barrett is an Italian shoe produced in Parma (seen below). They are super elegant and comfortable with attractive prices. The winter version is also available with heavy bottoms for rain or snow.

barrett italian shoemakers on italist

Astorflex also makes a good pair of shoes. They’re comfortable, and the cracked sole does well in the rain and snow. Their desert boot (called a “Polacchino” in Italian) has been a great success. All models are made in Italy.

astorflex italian shoemakers shoes on italist

We also love Fabi shoes, because they’re elegant, Made in Italy, and relatively affordable. One of the best-kept-secret Italian shoemakers.

What shoes from the rest of the world, non- Italian shoemakers, non- British shoe brands do you recommend?

Berwick 1707 is an entry level footwear label made in Spain. Great quality and a lower price point. For example, their desert boot with light Vibram Dainite sole comes in 5 colors, I highly recommend it. There are also goodyear moccasins.

paraboot on italist

And Paraboot is the French shoe par excellence. The “Michael” Tyrolean shoe was once called the engineer’s shoe: two holes, Goodyear workmanship, a real shoe, solid and rich. Matte leather, treaded sole, in five versions.

Another absolute gem is the “Avignon” model, available in Cordovan, natural and black color, at a higher price but absolute quality. Very rare to find. Learn more about Paraboot.

Not sure what size you are in Italian shoemakers sizing, or for British shoe brands? Understand more about designer shoe size conversions.

Discover Italian shoemakers on italist

About the Author

Alex English is the Head of Content Marketing at, building on a lifelong passion for fashion and luxury. After publishing a lifestyle blog for nearly ten years and obtaining an MBA in Milan at SDA Bocconi, one of Europe’s top business schools, he joined the italist team in 2019. His work since then has focused on upper-funnel messaging, brand storytelling, establishing italist as a thought leader in the space, and enriching the customer experience on the platform. Find him on LinkedIn.

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