Try to imagine how many hours is needed to make one pair of shoes. Moreover, how much leather is needed to create precision-finished boots? Moreover, how many tens of parts compose a shoe design? Try to imagine the worth of the footwear industry and leather processing knowledge and technology conveyed from generation to generation for centuries (if not more) in the current world. On the other hand, just imagine that the trademark, counting the third, fifth, and maybe even the seventh generation, whose factory still employs a grandmother of current owner or designer, has been producing the footwear products to this day. Surprised? We have no doubt. Moreover, let us add that, it appears, no one else in the world dedicates themselves to the manufacture of footwear like Italians.

Let us divide shoe sewing into four different parts:

  • Leather treatment;
  • Sewing processes and technologies;
  • Sole and its properties;
  • Exclusive touch of designers.
  • We will give an example: “To make boots of leather, you need 160 hours. For their sole and heel - about 10 layers thick buffalo skin, and all raw materials are from the Marche region in Italy, known as the “heart of shoe-making", - says the designer Rocco Pistolesi, who is creating the trademark “Rocco P.”. Let us add the unique touch of designer that is born out of love for jazz music, a passion for shoes; such sewing techniques as “Reverso” (“wrong side”) or “Sacchetto” (“shape of envelope”) as well as such factors that each pair of shoes is not only marked with an original number (limited production), but also has a passport showing identification - chip and the mark indicating authenticity “Made in Torre San Patrizio”.

     Since the origin of mankind (even in Paleolithic period), the signs and tools of the leather processing technology are found. In his book “The Art of The Shoe”, Marie - Joseph Bosse writes that in prehistoric times, the leather was used not only for clothes, but also for the footwear. In order to protect themselves from the cold, in the Alps the people used the fur of hunted animals to cover their shoulders and chest, and in order to protect their feet from the perishing piercingness, they used to make primitive shoes of thick leather, the soles of which were covered with palm leaves, and later they used to make such sole of wood.


    Leather tanning and dressing of leather are one of key indicators of quality footwear. Leather preparation recipes common in Ancient Babylon and Persia tell us about leather tanning using oils, wine, water, beef fat, alum and oak tubers. Such leather tanning techniques are still used in some eastern countries. Even Homer wrote that even in ancient times, such way of tanning ensured the secrets of leather processing, while the suede was considered a luxury item.

    According to historical sources, the greatest amount of footwear was made in ancient Rome, and it formed a kind of original style of shoes, bags, belts, military style characteristic of that time called Roman. Due to its special structure and mechanical properties, the leather was widely used in the military industry (in manufacture of helmets, shields, saddles, etc.).


    Italian, Spanish, French footwear is valued because of not only the quality and design, but because of sewing technology. Such sewing traditions as “Goodyear Welt”, “Sacchetto”, “Sol California”, “Tubolare” or “Reverse” have been used until now. Laszo Vasso and Magda Molnar book “Handmade Shoes for Men” states that while some of sewing technologies were created more than 140 years ago, they are used now as well. For example, “Reverse” technology: it is sewn using wrong side method and later the leather is turned inside out in water, and “Goodyear Welt” is valued for special waterproofness properties.

    Designers and manufacturers give their great attention to precise finishing of a shoe: the leather is carefully cut and painted, glued and sewn manually; every shoe or its part separately is polished. Footwear companies and their designers offering even more innovative, contemporary or futuristic shoe design, firstly, follow long-lived experience and foster production and sewing traditions. Such brands as “Premiata” or “Robert Clergerie” are not only known worldwide, but are also a part of the history of footwear. For example, “Premiata” designer Graziano Mazza created cultish Oxford lace-less, and “Robert Clergerie” fashion house is included in the list of French cultural heritage.

     A guarantee of quality and comfort

    New technology and equipment emerges in the modern era of technical development, which makes it possible to achieve great speed and output of production. Every year there are more and more new leather substitutes used to simulate expensive natural leather. However, artificial leather will never replace the natural leather by its physical and mechanical properties. If you wear shoes made of artificial leather, your feet are not breathing, and thus thermoregulation is not ensured (foot is sweating or freezing); such material breaks and cracks quite soon, and durability is not guaranteed. While one of the most unpleasant factors is that shoes sop to the skin due to moisture.

    According to orthopaedists, you should abandon shoes made of synthetic materials due to the occurrence of calluses, toenail transformation, cracks between toes or even the appearance of fungus. Italian businessmen famous for shoemaking, shoemakers and designers note that some of shoes made in China cost even less than the leather, which is needed to make an Italian pair of shoes.

    Such skins as deer’s, elk’s, peccary’s, horse’s, kangaroo’s, etc. are valued in the world not only for its exceptional structure, but also for the durability. For example, peccary and deer’s skins are very soft, elastic, thin, but according to their mechanical properties, are in the lead among the top five most sustainable skins.

    Sole. Durability and comfort

    Why if we wear one shoes, we can run all day, regardless of whether they are high-heeled, winkle-pickers or low-heeled classic shoes, and if we put on other one, we feel tired in an hour, our legs are swollen and it is difficult to move? One of the answers is suitable sole. For example, when a foot of a man moves on an average during a day, it has to withstand a load of several tons.

    Leather sole is an advantage. Footwear with such a sole is characterized by thermoregulatory properties; a hundred percent comfort, durability, and ease is ensured. Many third countries manufacture shoes from sticky, multi-layer soles. This type of sole unstuck and break down due to moisture or cold. Italian, Spanish and French use moulded sole technology for sole production (smooth technology). One of the best-known manufacturers of soles in the world is Italian company “Vibram”.

    Vibram” are the soles distinguished by unique structure, material and exceptional mechanical properties. The founder of the company made the type of soles that ensure stability, sustainability and adhesion. Initially, this type of soles were used only for the manufacture of climbing shoes. But today, these soles are used not only for the production of climbing footwear, but also for winter and water sports, fishing, running or everyday footwear. It is also rapidly applied by footwear designers not only because of technological properties of “Vibram” sole, but also due to the fact that it is possible to create unique footwear thanks to the technological properties. Such sole is a guarantee of durability and quality.

    VIBRAM sole

    Advantages of “Vibram” soles:

  • A hundred percent resistance to abrasion, shock;
  • Resistance to frost or changes in temperatures (rain, snow, ice, heat, etc.).;
  • Comfort;
  • Lightness;
  • Adherence (anti-slip);
  • Durability

  • Production and ecology

    Liabilities of skin tanning company (integrated pollution prevention and control) are necessary for good performance in terms of environmental protection. The manufacturers nurturing old leather dressing methods and technological ways follow this control. Therefore, it is not enough to install only the latest technology and leather processing techniques, it is very important to exercise good farming too. One of the grounds to ensure good work is the knowledge about the raw materials, their costs, the use, quantities and their impact on the environment.

    Leather + ecology

    The guarantee of shoe quality is qualitatively and naturally treated leather. Some of the indicators are natural tanning means, organic oils, impregnating material, natural non-aerosol dyes, etc. Thus, the competent representatives of the leather processing industry follow the following provisions:

  • Replacement of main environmentally prejudicial and auxiliary chemical materials by other, less harmful chemical materials;
  • Responsible management of leather processing company, i.e. to know what materials are used in processes (as well as evaluation of supplied materials prepared somewhere else);
  • Use of means of finishing with a small amount of flavour;
  • Use of natural dyes;
  • Use of less salts;
  • To reduce or completely abandon chemicals;
  • Reduction of emissions to air;
  • To optimize the application of wet degreasing;
  • Saving of energy.
  • EU international markets provide the greatest amount of dressed leather. Italy is a leader in Europe according the number of leather dressing companies, number of employees, scope of production and turnover. This country dresses 15% of the world and 65% of the skin of the EU cattle and calf; it is followed by Spain along with France.

    Most part of the companies are family businesses with long-lived traditions. The most important market for the sale of EU skin dressing companies is the footwear industry; half of the total production is sold to it.

    The price of the footwear producer from the European Union is also increased due to hygiene and environmental requirements. A person buying shoes produced in non-European Union country, unfortunately, does not think that the price does not include the environmental protection or pollution reduction taxes. The vast majority of people, buying shoes from third countries, know little about the quality of leather of the item, mechanical properties of soles, or the ratio between the manufacturer and ecology. For example, Scandinavian and Central European buyer is interested and gives priority to the quality, ecology (the conditions under which the product is made) and the production method. In Lithuania and the Baltic countries, this trend is also observed, which delights.

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