It is joyful to see many shoe aficionados discussing Chinese RTW shoemakers, among which, maybe Oct. Tenth is the most famous, partly because of its cooperation with Sons of Henrey, a brand very followed and active on StyleForum.
But a very present player is seldom mentioned, Mattina.
Oct. Tenth offers full flexibility and unlimited choice of lasts, leather, models and constructions. An the other end, Mattina is a purely RTW factory brand.
It has two origins, one is Japan and the other Italy.
Mattina owns a Goodyear Welted Factory solely, this factory manufactures private labels for many Japanese dress shoe brands. The owner is a Chinese who worked in one of Japanese dress shoe brand in Japan and came back to China to build this factory, manufacture the shoes for his former employer and other brands at a lower cost.
Its volume capability is huge, and the machinery is cutting edge, which is far away from the factories in Northampton who utilized ages-old machines. I am not saying which one produces better products, and it is not the point here at all, but its efficiency and quality stability are quite strong.
About the origin of Italy, the current general manager of the factory, Zhao Ruoda was an apprentice in Stefano Bemer Studio. After two years studying and working there, he came back to China to practice bespoke shoemaking at first. Occasionaly the owner of the factory offered him the opportunity to oversee the whole process of producing Ready To Wear shoes. As a treasury learning place, Zhao grabbed it and joined since three years ago.
The factory already had a brand but the products are very outdated, and the designs from Japan do not fit Chinese customers’ taste. Zhao was required to establish a new brand with more refined design. Mattina was born. In my eyes, its original lasts, which owe very much to Zhao’s knowledge on lastmaking learned in Italy and mainstream taste. The first two lasts, C shows some feeling of Stefano Bemer’s signature last, and N is a small square toe which is elegantly English.
Each model is a very tiny twist from classic models. Take an example of Cap Toe Oxford. Mattina Elgar sits on last N which conforms to its English formality. But note the quarter, the leather is slightly higher than the surroundings, maybe the quarter used thicker leather or lining, but it is a design details only to the people in the know, who admire details.
I always position Mattina as the Chinese Crockett & Jones, midrange products, affordable price, enough models to choose while not too many to distract. A very reliable workhorse.
One step further, it is closed channeled at half the price of Crockett & Jones, I hope more people see how Chinese RTW shoemakers enrich this market.