If I am asked which brand is most sought after in welt shoes market, the answer is Gaziano & Girling without dispute. I attribute two reasons, 1) aesthetics combining English and Italian, 2) revolutionary craftsmanship.
What means a combination of English and Italian aesthetics? Traditional English shoes have low profile colour and conservative round toe shape. Even square chisel toe from George Cleverely was deemed as rebellious. How about Italian shoes? Stunning colours, unexpectable patterns and elongated even pointy lasts.
Gaziano & Girling absorbed and emphasized the last into its shoes but keep sober colour. Pattern design is top level around the world.
Revolutionary craftsmanship is bringing many details only seen in bespoke shoes into Ready To Wear shoes. The most well know example is fiddleback waist on outsole. I even witnessed “broken heel” on my pair of Sintara. English shoemaking had been staggering for decades, Gaziano & Girling clearly reignited the fire and made shoe enthusiasts ticking.
I was one of them, but today I am reluctant to buy another pair of Gaziano & Girling because its lasts are not for me, even the most conservative round toe, the first one, GG06 is too elongated for me and I don’t even understand why to elongate a wonderful round toe.
Let us have a look at its iconic loafer Antibes.
Black shoe box made with very subtle textured material. White logo with small subtitle “Handcrafted in England”.
I have unboxed so many shoes, most of them only has a sticker or information on one side of the box, however Gaziano & Girling has both. This side writes its boutique address on Savile Row. Anything on the cover, you can tell the brand thinks it benefits brand image. Savile Row is so well known for its role of bespoke tailoring, and Gaziano & Girling is the only one shoemaker there.
On the opposite side, under logo, all information is handwritten. Model Antibes, colour Vintage Rioja. Rioja is a Spanish region famous for wine production, so I think this is a nick name for burgundy or so. Last KN14, size 6.5, width E.
Remove the cover, a piece of very luxury cardboard has many words.
Almost everything about this pair of shoes was told on this paper. I feel Gaziano & Girling is very proud of its shoes and wants to tell its customers how they are good!
This promotion is totally opposite to fashion houses. Fashion houses tell you if you wear me, you are well off, how it is made and what it is made of are none of your business.
Below is an excerpt from my interview with Justin FitzPatrick and he talked about Tony Gaziano.
What is your least favorite thing about the shoe industry?
My least favorite thing about the shoe industry and many other industries for that matter, is companies living off their past reputation rather than the shoes (or products) that they are making now.
Dark grey fabric, very dense.
The touch of this fabric and embossed logo are terrific.
The shock absorbing foam shares the same colour with shoe bags. This presentation is much better than print paper.
Uncover further, the shoes were divided by a thin foam.
I have one question in my mind for years that almost every brand includes complimentary shoe bags, however they don’t put shoes inside, why?
KN14 is every bit as revolutionary as craftsmanship upgrade from Gaziano & Girling to this industry. Square toe loafer was very rarely seen. Because most loafers have apron, and the shape of apron is round. Then square toe last would become a mismatch and harmony is not easy to achieve. KN14 succeeds with bringing down the stubborn feeling. The pedigree is also very obvious that it is elongated and narrow.
I care the outer line of a last very much as it is the most difficult place to achieve harmony. KN14 may only do a decent job but not marvelous. Most English lasts are very good at here, no matter which price ranges they are setting in.
For amateur shoe consumers, it is lasts that catch all the eyes, but seasoned ones will tell pattern design is Ace of Gaziano & Girling again.
I said many times I love J.FitzPatrick due to its originality on pattern design, but the founder of J.FitzPatrick, Justin admires Tony Gaziano to the utmost level.
Tony Gaziano majored architecture in university and gradually fell in love with shoemaking. He found a pattern design job in Joseph Cheaney & Sons. His talent wasted no time and sparked among the community. Edward Green hired Tony and he released several lasts immediately. Then he was entitled head of Top Drawer department and even on the road of build Edward Green bespoke service. He met Dean Girling just there and they walked together to form Gaziano & Girling offering bespoke service as well as Ready to Wear made by Alfred Sargent.
The learning experience of Tony Gaziano is not very academic, but his talent is so impressive. In most peers’ eyes, he is a great lastmaker, and pattern design is needless to say strong, you can tell this is true by how many had been copied.
The iconic design of Antibes is the twisted strap. When I saw it for the first time, my brain went blank, oh dear, the penny loafer can be played in this way? Maybe till this day I have seen bespoke shoemakers further improve the exquisiteness of this design, but originality wise, Tony is the God.
I think Gaziano & Girling is too much underestimated on its craftsmanship, it is a curse and a gift, because its lasts and patterns are too catchy. Look at the stitches on apron, you can relate to the split toe of Dover from Edward Green, and Antibes not only uses it on the split, but the whole apron.
Dean Girling as the veteran in shoemaking industry, he knows everything inside out, and you can count on him for a good pair of shoes. Narrow welt, fine fudge, high density of stitches and somehow blind waist are all there.
Most love its fiddleback waist because it is so new and rare in Ready To Wear shoes, previously only seen on English bespoke shoes which cost thousands of pounds. The shape of dividing line between forefoot and waist is also copied by many.
To be honest, the fiddleback is already an exaggeration as the real English bespoke shoes has much subtle beveled waist.
Fudge on the dividing line is extremely fine!
Loosely arranged copper nails on the heel block is also tender.
Pitched Cuban heel with stacked leather and fudge.
Gaziano & Girling puts all information on the tongue.
My conclusion is Gaziano & Girling is a value brand, surprise, right? If you put it alongside with John Lobb and Edward Green for the same price, which one do you think offers best value?