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Craft / November 2017

The Lasting Craft of Paolo Scafora

With headquarters nestled in Naples, Paolo Scafora creates traditional footwear with an added dash of contemporary splendour.

The unique hand-written, personalised message on each insole. Photograph by James Munro.

To look at, a Paolo Scafora shoe is an ingenious representation of true Neapolitan craftsmanship. But for this particular brand, the signature details that define it are hidden. Each shoe crafted in the Paolo Scafora workroom has the name of the customer it’s been made for scrawled on the inner sole, as a discreet yet personal show of appreciation. This small dash of Scafora personality, followed only after 300 meticulous quality checks are carried out, show that the customer, and his interpretation of the brand, is at the centre of all that matters.

While the brand is officially named after Paolo Scafora, he is actually the third generation Scafora to take the helm of the company. His father, Gennaro, inherited his love and talent for shoemaking from his own father, who was also gifted with cordwaining skills. In the seventies, Gennaro opened a small workshop producing leather soles, where his many children, including Paolo, played an active role in the day-to-day operations.

Paolo explained to The Rake that he spent his school holidays in the family workshop, getting to grips with the machinery and learning how to accurately handle the leather. When he reached his twenties, Paolo moved to Milan to further develop his craft. The brand continued to strive – so much so that Scafora soon became one of the highest-regarded brands among its peers. However, to combat competition and the industrial production advances that threatened the integrity of bespoke shoemaking, the family had a tough decision to make; to either continue manufacturing as they had been, or resort to their original methods. They opted for the latter to maintain the essence of the Scafora brand and to stay true to their humble beginnings. Paolo took the reins in 2005 and the brand, as it is today, was born.

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Megan Plenderleith