Foster & Son’s Jermyn Street workshop in London stands as a testament to classic, understated craftsmanship. As they note on their brochure, “The tools of our craft are very simple. An awl, flax thread, beautifully naturally tanned leather, a hammer, pliers, sharp knives, beeswax, punches, and marking tools.”

Well, you know what they say about the shoe being greater than the sum of its parts, no? Join us to find out, 3/26-28, when Wingtip will host Foster & Son’s Retail Manager Andrew Murphy and Last Maker Jon Spencer for their spring trunk show.

For appointments, please contact bespoke@wingtip.com.

PICTURED ABOVE: Bespoke Advisor Michael Alzona visits Foster & Son during a recent trip to London.

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As manager of San Francisco’s Hotel des Arts, Hero Nakatani took the meaning of “hotel art” to a new dimension, offering the rooms as blank canvases for artists to create modern, arresting visuals that made guests forget all about dull seaside landscapes and generic vistas. Nakatani then took on the footwear business, seeking to bridge the chasm between comfortable, urbane sneakers and sophisticated, but unforgiving oxfords. The result was Nakatani’s Hydrogen-1 shoes, a name that relates how these shoes are elemental, essential, and classically simple. Below, we talk with Hydrogen founder Hero Nakatani about his journey.

Wingtip: What is the menswear niche that Hydrogen-1 shoes seeks to fill?
Hero Nakatani: Understated style with comfort–for work or leisure.

WT: How did you set up your shoe manufacturing arrangement in Italy?
HN: We found a manufacturer with experience making our kind of high-end shoes. It was far from automatic that they would agree to work with a small, new company like Hydrogen-1. But they loved our designs, thought they were something really new and different, and it’s been a great relationship.

WT: What were the shoe production details that were at the top of your list while seeking that manufacturer?
HN: In comparing samples from different manufacturers, what really set them apart was the quality–across all the aspects. The leather, the soles, the cut, and the stitching. It was also really important to find someone who collaborated well, that is, translating a design into a finished shoe.

WT: Where are the shoes manufactured?
HN: They’re made in Italy’s Le Marche region, known for its shoe, and other artisanal, manufacturers.

WT: Was there a certain pair of shoes in your life that inspired you to get into the shoe business?
HN: I had these great looking Italian shoes that worked well with all my suits. The leather had this great patina, but they were so uncomfortable. Standing up all day, working at the hotel, I thought there had to be a better way!

WT: What was your experience like launching Hydrogen-1 on Kickstarter?
HN: It was a whirlwind, nail-biting, and ultimately very gratifying experience, just one month from launch to finish. Compared to other Kickstarters, we were raising a lot of money, $86,000, to buy the inventory for our first collection. The success rate for fashion businesses wasn’t all that promising, but if you can get around 25% of your goal raised in the first week or so, the odds look much better. And with the help of various friends in putting together an amazing launch party, we were able to do just that!

WT: How did your design or hospitality experiences from Hotel Des Arts inform the creation of Hydrogen-1?
HN: I’ve always been most inspired and motivated by the creative aspects of my job. The Hotel des Arts [pictured below] experience was a big milestone, doing that in the hotel trade. That, and other successes, gave me the confidence to believe that I could change professions altogether, and be successful.

WT: What is your favorite hotel in the world, besides Hotel Des Arts?
HN: Gosh, there are so many, but ultimately I like hotels that are small and intimate, like the Mercer in New York. It’s been around for so many years now, but has stood the test of time. Then there is also the tiny Gallery Hotel in Florence Italy. It’s very Italian.

WT: Any recommendations for lodging or restaurants for Wingtip readers visiting Italy?
HN: Gallery Hotel, right off of the famed Ponte Vecchio. If you take your wife, she will love you even more when you take her to the Salvatore Ferragamo museum (You will get special access if you stay at the hotel). Then go to dinner at Piazza Santo Spirito. There is a great local hangout “Osteria Santo Spirito.” I worked there when I was a student in Italy.

Hydrogen-1 Shoes’ spring collection is now available at Wingtip.

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Whether its St. Patrick’s Day, or any other day that requires a quick pop of color, Stolen Riches laces are a fun and stylish way to mix it up. Seen here in pinch-deflecting Niklaus Green (above-right) and Moville Green (above left), Stolen Riches offers a shade of every color on the visible spectrum.

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Next week, St. Crispin’s visits Wingtip for a three-day trunk show. We adore these shoes, and fell that they represent an investment-caliber value, even at their steep price tag. But we know some readers may get light-headed over the thought of parting with $1700 for a pair of shoes. So, here we embody the “Skeptical Shopper,” and volley the hard questions to our Bespoke Advisors Michael Alzona and Bruce Zuckerman:

Skeptical Shopper: What makes St. Crispin’s special?

Michael Alzona: The fact that they offer a custom fit and they design every single one-of-a-kind pair makes them particularly special. Saint Crispin’s are only available at the world’s finest retailers. Wingtip is one of four in all of North America.

SS: I hear they’re from Romania? I thought all the best shoes were from Italy or England.

Bruce Zuckerman: Although English and Italian products are renowned, the old world craftsmanship and worker pride in Romania is respected throughout the leather goods marketplace, worldwide.

MA: Sure, Saint Crispin’s is a smaller shoe company, but pound-for-pound they are a top-notch contender for the mantle of “World’s Finest Shoe Brand.” They have earned a massive amount of respect among the world’s shoe and fashion aficionados for their high quality and designs.

SS: What will make this trunk show exciting?

MA: We are very excited to have the owner Phillip Car at Wingtip again this year to help clients with custom fittings and consultations.

SS: Bottom line–Why should I spend $1700 on a pair of shoes?

MA: Finest quality hand welted shoes custom fit that I can design? Hollowed shoe trees specific to the shoe? Monogrammed sole? Sign me up!

BZ: These are more than just shoes; they are an investment in your wardrobe, style, and comfort, for years into the future.

Saint Crispin’s trunk show runs next week, Monday, March 16th through Wednesday, March 18th. Contact Mr. Alzona or Mr. Zuckerman at bespoke@wingtip.com to make your appointment.

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We are thrilled to welcome back Saint Crispin’s shoe company for a trunk show featuring spring 2015 and custom selections. The trunk show will run Monday 3/16 through Wednesday 3/18. Contact bespoke@wingtip.com to make an appointment.

Below, we’ve snapped some shots of some of our current stock, but these are just the tip of the iceberg.

Saint Crispin's Custom Shoes Featuring Pantherella English Socks

Saint Crispin's Custom Shoes Featuring Pantherella English Socks

Saint Crispin's Custom Shoes Featuring Pantherella English Socks

Saint Crispin's Custom Shoes Featuring Pantherella English Socks

About Saint Crispin’s

“The craft and our company: The Saint Crispin’s company in Brasov, Romania employs 25 highly trained crafts people and has an output of approximately 1.500 pairs per year only.

Our business model is based on the single pair order, which allows us to provide excellent service to customers. Due to limited output, the company works with only a handful of select international partners. Saint Crispin’s is one of the worlds smallest shoe manufacturers, but we are renowned amongst shoe and fashion aficionados for their impeccable craftsmanship and design.

Saint Crispin’s shoes are only presented in the world finest shops in Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Germany, Holland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, United Kingdom and in the United States.”

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This Thursday, 10am-6pm, we follow up last year’s exceptionally popular Bourbon & Boots event with Wolverines & Whiskey.

The event will feature the Wingtip debut of Wolverine’s new Centennial Bison Leather boot, which they released to celebrate the 100th birthday of the original 1000-Mile Boot. The stunning pebbled bison leather boot is available in tan and brown.

Lending support is a limited offering from Anchor Distilling: White Christmas. This white whiskey is actually the 2013 release, which is the 2012 Christmas Ale distilled. It is also the last whiskey from this annual release to be named White Christmas. And we will be giving away a bottle with each purchase of a pair of Centennial Boots (limited to available stock on-hand, applies to purchases in-store on 12/11 only). We will also be offering a 15% discount on all current stock from Anchor’s spirits portfolio in the Bank Of Wine & Spirits for the occasion!

The event will run from 10am-6pm. Stop by around lunch time, when Wolverine will be offering complimentary bison burgers, cooked to perfection by Wingtip’s Chef Matt.

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WINGTIP SHINE GIFT CERTIFICATES

Stop by the Wingtip shine stand and talk with Resident Bootblack Vasti about giving the gift of a Wingtip shoe shine gift certificate. Shoe shines start at $15, but you can purchase the Wingtip shine gift certificate for any denomination or combination of services (perhaps waterproofing? see below). Chat with Vasti to consult and figure out what’s right for the “guy who has everything except shiny oxfords.”

WATERPROOFING

We read last week that it will take 12-20 more storms to get California out of this drought. That’s a lot of water stains on your shoes. Consider getting them waterproofed for just $15. Vasti’s waterproof treatment will not cause any discoloration, and will still allow the leather to breathe. Furthermore, now through January 31st, we’re currently offering free waterproofing on any new shoe or leather accessory purchases over $250.

TUXEDO SHINE

For any gent with a New Year’s Eve or black tie event this holiday season (like the Wingtip members’ sold-out Frank Sinatra party this week), Vasti is offering a deluxe “Tuxedo” Shine. The Saphir polish shine costs $25 for all leather shoes, and just $12 for patent leather shoes. First shine is free to anyone who has purchased their tux at Wingtip.

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When the days shrink and sunshine is in short supply, it’s the time to persevere with the devil-may-care attitude of brightly patterned socks. (And it doesn’t hurt if they’re cashmere or Escorial wool.) Here are a few of our favorites this season, with St. Crispin’s footwear to complement them.

Escorial wool’s unique, twisting fibers hold in heat while remaining relatively thin. ($35) Also available in a subtly-patterned over-the-calf design. ($45)

Pantherella’s Beaulieu cashmere socks are a seasonal favorite, even if you don’t have a fire to dry them by. Pantherella’s cashmere socks are also offered in two sharp Fairisle patterns this year, the “Emily” and the “Fawsley”. ($75)

Dion’s new collection of socks, including these piano-stripes, are bold but dressy. ($25)

And for good measure: Presenting the unofficial ankle-wear choice of “Movember.” ($25)

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Details to follow.

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Heritage footwear producers Nettleton return to Wingtip Thursday and Friday for their fall trunk show. In addition to their highly-esteemed collection of customizable oxfords and loafers, they will be showing off a new line of suede loafers (pictured left).

Walk-ins are welcome, but to schedule a fitting, please contact bespoke@wingtip.com.

For more on this fabled American brand, read an interview with Nettleton’s VP Jim Tognoni here.

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