About Norman Vilalta Bespoke Shoemakers
At the age of 31, Norman Vilalta realized that his career as a corporate lawyer in Argentina lacked the artistic aspects of life that were important to him.
He yearned for an opportunity to create and contribute to the world in a more meaningful way. Importantly, he wanted to work with his hands.
Norman had an appreciation for well made shoes and an interest in shoe making but there was no clear career path.
In 2002 Norman made the bold decision to move halfway across the world to Florence, Italy where hand craft was valued and there were opportunities to learn.
It was in Florence where he worked as an apprentice for a number of master shoemakers, including renown shoemaker Stefano Bemer.
It was in Florence where Norman learned the art of bespoke shoes.
"Norman Vilalta is one of my favourite bespoke artisans. Enthusiastic, talented and down-to-earth. His creations can often be fantastical, but he also does a nice line in conservative shoes with little touches of personality."
- Simon Crompton of Permanent Style
For the first 10 years of Norman´s career as a shoemaker, he worked exclusively on bespoke shoes for clients from around the world.
Bespoke gave him the opportunity to work with feet of all sizes, shapes, and forms, and helped him to develop a deep understanding of every detailed process of shoe making.
From working with different types of leathers, to hand and Goodyear welting, to developing his own patinas and color combinations, Norman perfected every process and mastered the craft.
In 2014, Norman realized that the world of bespoke was limited to a very small and exclusive niche. He wanted the ability to bring the beauty of bespoke to a broader audience without comprimising on quality or skilled handwork.
To achieve this, Norman took a year off from working with clients to apply his bespoke shoe making experience to engineer his own ready-to-wear lasts. His goal was to develop lasts that could bring the fit of a bespoke shoe to a much wider audience.
In addition, Norman decided that his ready-to-wear shoes would all be hand-finished, a process that takes 4 to 6 hours per pair and can only be done by a skilled artisan.
Since the introduction of the new line, Norman has created an extensive line of ready-to-wear shoes and boots that have the fit of a bespoke shoe and are all beautifully hand-finished before delivery.
Importantly, Norman also started to grow a small team. The team is now five people who wear multiple hats -- from bespoke shoemaking to hand finishing, to managing the website and Barcelona retail store, to product development, customer service, organizing trunk shows, and wholesale with a handful of strategic retailers.
Norman Vilalta's ready-to-wear shoes have been featured in publications such as Esquire, GQ, T Magazine, and Monocle and they are worn by men from around the world who have a deep appreciation of the art and craft of shoemaking.
To better understand what makes Norman Vilalta's ready-to-wear shoes special, please read the editorial The Art of Hand Finishing, Part 1.
To hear about what the shoe world is saying about Norman Vilalta, visit our In the Press Page.
To get started on your own pair of Norman Vilalta shoes...