In shoemaking, as in life, there is a smart way to become accomplished and that is to learn from the best. Accelerated learning, whether from a tutor or otherwise, allows one to master a craft in double quick time, learning the ways and tricks of the master and in doing so, free up more time for experimentation, innovation and perfection. This is the path Mario Giannini, the founder and proprietor of Doucal’s, chose in 1973, when intent on developing a luxury shoemaking business in the Marche region, he travelled to England and Northamptonshire, the Mecca of handmade shoemaking, and immersed himself in the ways of the masters. It was there that Mario enrolled for an internship with Handmade Goodyear, a prudent move that would catalyse his business and shape the rest of his life.
If one is going to learn the tenets of classic shoemaking, Northamptonshire is the place to do it. Home of the likes of John Lobb, Joseph Cheaney, Edward Green, George Cleverley and Crockett & Jones, it is a cobblers row of world-class artisans and craftsmen. Mario’s mentor, then, passed down to him all of the secrets of the various construction methods and the rules of English style that were so influential during those years in the European market. After several months of training, Mario returned to Italy and passed on his knowledge and skills gained in Northamptonshire to his modest artisanal enterprise that would, from that moment on, focus exclusively on the very British dedication to perfection. To honour this journey, Mario decided to anglicise his company’s name Duca (meaning ‘Duke’ in Italian) to Doucal’s.