Higher-end men's dress shoes often catch my eye for the quality of their design, construction and materials. Women's shoes of similar styles just don't look "real"; they appear more as a caricature of a shoe (not to mention their limited wear). And so, late one night while wandering the streets of Paris, a display caught my eye. The leather shone bright, thick and sturdy, the stitching was strong and functional, and the women's display showed the same quality as the men's!
This is Carmina Shoemaker, established in 1997 by José Albaladejo Pujadas and his family. The company is the re-making of a Spanish brand began by Pujadas' great-grandfather in 1866. Designing and manufacturing in Majolica using the Goodyear welt process, Carmina strives to create "some of the world's best hand crafted shoes". You can follow the construction process on their website here, from the making of the wooden shoe last, to the final polish. I applaud the Pujadas family's decision to continue manufacturing shoes in Spain after a downturn in the '90s, reinventing themselves rather than seeking less expensive labour abroad.
These classic loafers are the most casual shoe available from Carmina. I appreciate the little details: the sole has a light rubber coating to prevent slipping, the leather of the tongue has been beveled then dyed, the construction allows for re-soling, and the shoes carry no unnecessary embellishment, seam or frill. It's just a black loafer and it's perfect.