When it comes to fine shoe-making, there are only two or three regions in the world which can boast a venerable heritage. Northampton, in England, is the first to spring to mind, home of Crockett & Jones, Cheaney, Church's, Edward Green and George Cleverley. If you're familiar with Carmina then you'll also know that Mallorca also has a long history of high-level artisanal shoemaking, but more significant is the region of Marche in Italy. It's here that much of the world's luxury footwear is made, leveraging over a century of expertise, both in handcraft and technology. One such maker is the Franceschetti family, who have been at the forefront of men's luxury shoe manufacturing for almost one hundred years. Their story begins in the 1920s, when great-grandfather Adelio Franceschetti, endeavoured to make shoes completely handmade in a small basement room beneath his house. His passion was passed down to his sons, Annibale and Ugo, then with Annibale's son Delio and his two sisters, Emilia and Sara. Delio and Sara now sit at the head table of the family business, while Delio's children Andrea and Stefania, have also written their names into the family tradition.
Montegranaro, the small commune in the province of Fermo on Italy's Adriatic coast, is one of those postcard-perfect towns perched atop a rolling hill. It's there that Franceschetti's shoe factory is based and has been since 1965 when it was one of the first true shoemakers to set up production in the picturesque Marche town. Franceschetti can not only boast the Made in Italy badge of honour, but more specifically, Made in Montegranaro. From Oxfords, Derbys and double monks to slippers, sneakers and moccasins, every style is made from beginning to end in Montegranaro, ensuring the highest quality control.
Where the company stands apart from many other Marche makers is in its leather finishing, which is less manufacturing and more art form. The hand-colouring, brushing and polishing of the leather, particularly in the Patina Deluxe collection is second to none, guaranteeing that no one pair is ever quite the same. Rather, they display the working traits of the individual artisan responsible for your particular pair of shoes. Furthermore, each shoe is polished with cloth, fingers and a lot of passion for at least half an hour, to achieve that enviable mirror effect. For the more classic business styles, Franceschetti use full-grain calfskins, while for the Deluxe Patina line, yolk leathers are hand-dyed and hand-polished. Prefinished leather soles are eschewed in favour of handbuilt and brush-dyed soles. Many of the rubber soles are also handmade, consisting of a welted leather midsole and an outer rubber sole. Through different production phases, each pair of shoes, from design to packaging, undergoes more than 200 operations.
For this season, The Rake has procured a beautiful selection of Franceshetti shoes, which given the craftsmanship involved, offer some of the best value in all of our footwear range. Their Milo, Brighton and Newport loafers are each perfect options for smart summer separates, or you can opt for the Cardiff brogued Derbys for a little more structure. Smarter options include the stunning Liverpool Oxfords, the classic Savona Oxfords, while not to mention a delectable double monk. There is also a smart sneaker option for elevated casualwear. You won't be disappointed.
A shoemaking masterclass
Stefania Franceschetti gave The Rake some insight into the complex process that brings her family's footwear to life:
“The first step of production is the cutting of the upper: after having scrupulously checked the quality of the leather, an experienced worker cuts the leather upper and lining. Once cut, the preparation and edging phases begin, which include various operations such as punching, colouring of the edges, stitching of the various sections to form the upper of the shoe, and so on. This phase is carried out by highly specialised machinists with excellent hand/eye coordination. To guarantee protection and support to the shoe, a toe cap and leather buttress are applied between the lining and the upper. To level the upper we first use a hammer and then a special machine and a grinder for the internal. A machine called “calzera” closes and fixes the heel with staples and glues the quarry with thermoplastic. Now the shoe passes through a special oven: this step helps the upper adhere perfectly to the shoe-form through a process of humidification, heat-supply and elimination of air (vacuum). At this point the uppers made with leathers in a neutral colour are repeatedly dyed by hand, taking on various shades of colour. Once dried, the shoe is brushed. From the phase of assembling the outsole up to the beginning of finishing, the shoes rest on shoe-forms for at least one week. This period of rest grants the right equilibrium and adjustment between various components.
"Before starting the assembly of the outsole, we cut insoles and soles from the leather. For each shoe-form we use a specific heel, composed of leather and/or rubber. The components are joined and stitched together to obtain the bottom. The brand is embossed on the outsole. The application of the sole determines the assembly between the upper and bottom. Most of our shoes are sewn with the traditional "Blake Rapid" system for a better water impermeability, longer life of the bottom and the possibility of renewing the outsole once it becomes overly worn. After that, the shoe is once again placed onto the shoe-form and the glue is sprinkled on the midsole and the bottom.
"Now, it's time for the outsole, which can be of leather or rubber, depending on the model. The shoe is pressed for an optimal fixing of the components and the bottom is trimmed. With the "Rapid" seam the outer leather sole (or rubber sole) is sewn to the midsole. This stitching remains clearly visible both on the welt and on the bottom of the shoe. The union of the welt with the midsole ensures the perfect adaptability of the shoe to the foot and excellent air permeability.
"Then in the finishing department, heels are definitively fixed, trimmed and cleaned with sandpaper. This procedure is carried out by highly skilled craftsmen, done by hand like many other operations in the manufacturing process. Outsoles and heels are first coloured and after that, a warm wax is applied to the edges to waterproof and shine. Outsoles can be finished with various patterns and also painted in two colours. The upper is now smoothed with a hot iron, passed by hand, creating a greater depth of colour and to prime it for the next step: the abrasive brush. The shoe is now taken off from the shoe-form, the heel is nailed with a special machine that works internally, the insole is applied and the inner lining is smoothed with the iron. The shoe is treated with various ointments and beeswax and its rear profile is shaped and stabilised by a special hot/cold machine. The final step is polishing. All handmade shoes are aged and polished by hand to create an intense depth of colour."