The brand is not new to me as I encountered it when I browsed the Ecommerce platform Taobao, and looked into its style when I prepare the list RTW Map China.
The remark I gave this brand is AN ABLE COPYCAT.
Why? Because any signature model from reputable brands can be found in its offerings.
Personally, I am not a fun of the current popular styles, or more specifically, Berluti style. So even its price is only a portion of a portion of Berluti, I have no trying.
It is not to say it only offers Berluti style, the triple monk from Septieme Largeur is there, the maginificent Decon Boots from Norman Vilalta is there, therefore you have to admit that the owner is not a tasteless man.
Recently, my interest was aroused by a fact that CIE sold almost 2000 pairs per month. In classic shoe industry, I don’t think too many makers are ahead of this number.
I contact the owner and he is very open and warm, asked me to have a visit to his workshop.
It was a Sunday and the workers all rested, so we leisurely discussed the path he took and the plan on the way.
On the table in his office many newly developed models stacked, so many patina colours, not bad, yet intrigued me too much, but the lasts surprised me, they are GOOD!
Look at this round toe, it has some Italian flavor as it is elongated somehow, but it is not too aggressive and the proportion is in harmony.
When you have so many models and the lasts are good, you can bet there must be something someone likes. Like this spectator, the colour, pattern and the last, all made me tick.
I felt so interesting of this shoe and asked how to achieve this, the owner told me just putting a section of shoelace inside between the upper and lining, brilliant. I say you are so innovative, he laughed, it’s Berluti.
Then we moved into the quiet workshop.
The first stop is clicking.
The leather is hand picked and clicked, including upper and lining leather. At this station, upper and lining have been stitched together.
Next is the upper stop, the pattern forms here by someone sitting on the bench and operating the sewing machine.
As I mentioned that CIE has a lot of lasts, maybe as many as the English shoemakers with much longer history.
I think that is the advantage as a runner-up, they can absorb so much great last designs from great brands all over the world.
Next is the lasting, CIE does not have a lasting machine, so all shoes are handlasted. Note the nails. The crust upper is clearly a copy of Berluti signature shoes.
I know handlasted is highly thought of, but why it is better is out of my understanding.
Next we went to the colouring stop, the picture above is one left shoe with the preliminary patina/colouring.
This is the seat for who handlasts the shoes.
CIE may be known as the entry level Berluti copycat, however, it also offers handwelted prodcuts just as this one. Look at the narrow and bevelled waist made by hand carving.
For this range, the heel is stacked leather glued by craftsman one piece after one piece. And you can see the shape of Cuba heel here. If the handwork involved is concerned, CIE gives quite magnificent value for its price.
Lastly, this is the cork board, CIE’s owner told that this board is more environment friendly than hot cork applied, but the hot cork can provide the curved shape for the outsole.
Visiting the workshop is always a great experience as you can see how shoes are made. More importantly, you may change your opinion about some brands, especially when their price is low. you may previously think they are crab, but in fact, they really give you good value.