As you probably know, I have been a shoe lover for a very long time. I can still see myself, 20 years ago, daydreaming on Sundays as I window shopped at the Berluti heritage address rue Marbeuf. I remember drooling over a pair of Alessandros, a glorious laced pump I regarded as THE emblematic Berluti shoe, far beyond my financial reach. A few years later, I finally touched the Holy Grail and bought my first pair.
Readers of PG know of my unfailing respect for the label, if only for its role in the renewal of men’s interest for beautiful shoes (at a time when we had far fewer options, among which Weston, Church’s or John Lobb, or even Bowen for more limited budgets, as mine was back then). Nevertheless, a few connoisseurs have rightly noted a two-pronged phenomenon that did not help the institution’s reputation: an unquestionable drop in the general product quality despite a dramatic price increase.
In the last few years, this double and worrisome turn has been compounded by a problem that tends to worsen and that all Berluti owners have sadly experienced at some point. The shoes are extremely fragile and, most importantly, tend to take in water under the slightest rain (I am not talking about downpours, but a slightly damp ground).
Recently, friends told me that they had adapted a widespread French saying to reflect the water vs. Berluti paradigm. As soon as the weather lets the slightest spit, they say that “this is no weather to go out in your Berlutis”.
Having myself had to deal with the horrendous feeling of soaking my feet in 1,500 euros shoes, I wonder what explains Berluti’s lack of action to resolve a recurrent problem that is causing a number of amateurs (including some that are deeply attached to the label) to find dry ground somewhere else.
The saddest in this is the spineless explanation provided by shop salesmen (including on Saint-Germain). They explain, with great aplomb, that this is due to the exceptional quality of untreated leather before the customized patina. This is not a waterproof explanation by any stretch of the imagination for a problem probably brought on by the Blake assembly and that has nothing to do with leather…
Yet again, I continue to very much respect Berluti’s work and its impact in the appreciation of masculine shoe. But frankly, such an obvious drop in quality and reliability is simply incomprehensible.
We will follow this case very closely…