Updated: Mar 25, 2019
In the age where Instagram and other social media platforms allow you to discover artisans from all over the world, it is a pity that it is still quite difficult to get access to their crafts if they are located on the opposite side of the globe.
This is why I love events like the London Super Trunk Show.
The brand that I was particularly excited to see was none other than the Spanish family-run business Carmina.
First, a little bit background information about the brand. Spanning four generations now, Carmina offers some of the finest RTW goodyear-welted shoes in the market at a fairly reasonable price point (~€400 - €700).
What makes the brand really stand out, however, is its wide range of cordovan shoes as well as the use of the renowned JR Rendenbach sole for its more premium models.
With such captivating features, Carmina's footwear is definitely not to be missed out.
While here at The Suitstainable Man I don't tend to encourage using exotic leather unless the product is ethically sourced, I was particularly fascinated to see the brand launching two new peccary leather shoe models.
As shown in the picture above, Carmina now offers two models of the peccary, with one as a black cap-toe double monk-strap and the other as a dark brown cap-toe oxford.
From interacting with the texture of the leather, I could sense that it has the potential to be a great replacement for its exotic counterparts; considering it has that luxurious and vintage feel while being incredibly soft.
It is now priced at €690 just like the brand's other Cordovan shoes. However, since it is a recently-launched product, it is not yet available on their website. In any case, you could simply order from them via email.
Elsewhere, the trunk show also features stunning footwear made by the shoemaker Norman Vilalta.
Sharing a rather similar background to many of us menswear enthusiasts, Norman Vilata was once a lawyer who happened to fall in love with the noble art of shoemaking.
Thus it was natural for him to move to Florence to master the art, and eventually to offer bespoke as well as RTW models from his atelier in Barcelona.
Like many other shoemakers residing in the Mediterranean, Norman Vilalta's shoes often feature vibrant color-tones as well.
What makes them special, however, is the house's signature feature of what I would call a 'reverse patina'. Basically, that means the patina of the cap-toe is brighter than the rest of the shoes.
Then of course, even though this effect could easily be done by any bespoke shoemakers, the fact that the brand offers the feature for its RTW range makes them iconic.
The only downside, I would say, is that the shoes have a starting price point of €870. But for something as unique as these, it's really more about personal taste at this point.
On a different note, there was also a great variety of Japanese shoe brands present in the room, with the majority represented by the Japan Shoes Export Platform (JSEP).
The reason behind this requires us to take a quick detour.
Following the EU and Japan's Economic Partnership Agreement that entered into force earlier this year, it is now much easier to import Japanese shoes into the European market, especially with removed customs and duties.
In response to this drastic market change, the Japanese shoe industry have started JSEP a few years back, which would gradually introduce Japanese shoes in Europe.
One of four brands that was showcased by the JSEP was Oriental Shoemaker (as shown in the picture above).
What captivates me especially about this brand is that it has a premium line which uses two types of manufacturing process for the sole of the shoes -- goodyear-welted for the part that wears towards the ground and Blake stitch for the waist.
What this does, really, is that it allows the shoes to have a very elegant fiddle waist, while keeping the option to replace the sole when it's too worn out.
Still, it is not the easiest to get access to these shoes at the moment. But for now, they are definitely something to keep an eye on.
Each year, the London Super Trunk Show would also include other contests alongside the exhibition.
This includes the World Championship of Shoe Shining, World Championship in Patina Making, and of course, World Championship of Shoemaking. The latter was particularly fascinating since you get to see some rather unusual crafts that you would only see in an art gallery.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to stay until the very end to take a close look at the creation made by the first prize winner, the one and only Daniel Wegan of Gaziano & Girling.
It is interesting, however, to see how the shoes that feature a more chiseled toe and a more unique heel shape tend to rank higher in the championship.
In any case, I will just leave it here with these wonderful creations.