Just as many Catalans do not consider themselves Spanish, and a number of Cornish folk would sooner be garrotted than be referred to as ‘English’, the denizens of the narrow ginnels and cobbled squares of the old seaport of Naples incessantly call themselves Neapolitans, rather than Italians. And nowhere does this quarantined identity find its expression more ardently than in the realm of menswear. Names such as Kiton, Attolini and Rubinacci immediately conjure images of exquisite stylistic bravado: racks of jackets cut from eclectic but consistently eye-catching cloths (soft of shoulder, devoid of heavy linings, naturally shaped shoulders, obviously); contrasting trousers, often in linen, usually cut narrowly, bar the upper portion; ties, if worn, double-dimpled, rarely conservative and often seven-fold.
So it’s always exciting when a newcomer arrives on the scene and deigns to offer something new, as shoe and accessory maker Belsire did in 2014. As if entering so vibrant, so busy a realm as Neapolitan menswear isn’t brazen enough, the company really threw down the gauntlet by coming up with a name which is a mash-up of the Italian words for “elegant” and “gentleman”. And, Belsire – which launched its first Spring/Summer 2016 collection at the 88th edition of Pitti Uomo – is doing a pretty good job of living up to it.
“We saw an opportunity for business due, in my opinion, to the lack of handmade Italian quality shoes that have a classic look and a contemporary style with the right price,” explains Valerio D'Angelo, who founded the company with his brother Diego. “We also believe that the online business model is not very well used by our competitors, and we have know-how in this department.”
Diego and Valerio - who have Master’s degrees from the USA and UK respectively – are, in keeping with the city of origin, keenly sensitive to ‘decontractè’ elegance. “There’s a lot of passion and dedication put in the creation of our products, which is partially driven by our Neapolitan origins,” says Valerio. “Our sartorial strengths are brought about by our Parthenopean culture and traditions. We want to make a difference to style, revisiting classic designs with a contemporary key.” Adds Diego, “Our proposition is a quality product, made by artisans, which is classic but contemporary - one that can inspire emotions. We combine leathers or suede with materials which are considered peculiar for shoes such as wool, cotton or silk, to bring out our exclusive design fantasies.”