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Article: The Search for the Perfect Brown Shoe

The Search for the Perfect Brown Shoe

Norman Vilalta Barcelona - Borcego Boot, Group-Made-to-Order

At Norman Vilalta, the exploration of color is an artistic journey. Since we create our own patinas in house, we’ve had the opportunity to experiment with various color combinations and finishing techniques to achieve personalized patinas on our leather and suede canvases. These patinas allow your everyday dress shoe to stand out. For this group-made-to-order (GMTO), Norman searched for the perfect brown patina tone to complement three distinct shoe models of ours that balance classic luxury with a playful modernity. The result, three unique styles that will turn heads and make your wardrobe sing.

Adelaide Oxford Shoe made in Spain by Norman Vilalta
The first style is our Adelaide Oxford, one of the less common oxfords that is defined by the vamp of the shoe extending from the toe cap to the heel, with subtle brogues along the lacing. Our version incorporates our asymmetrical pattern-making, a chiseled toe box, a Goodyear welted leather sole, and an upper featuring a mix of two leather textures. Norman achieved a perfect mix using the box calf in the body and and pebble grain within the brogueing which give the uppers a unique texture and compliments what we call our Marrón Mediterráneo” patina.

Adelaide Oxford Shoe made in Spain by Norman Vilalta
When Norman was studying shoemaking in Florence, he admired the way that locals would wear shoes in a signature shade of brown called “testa di morro” with their blue suits. The beautiful brown contained subtle hints of burgundy and complemented the Tuscan landscape and the Mediterranean Sea. This inspired Norman to search for the perfect brown that represented his story, surroundings, and sense of style. As such, “Marrón Mediterráneo” is a brown that evokes fine wine, toros (bulls), raw tobacco, wild horses, bamboo, and oak. Essentially, this brown represents the influences of the Mediterranean that Norman came across while on the road to becoming a master shoemaker -- From his humble beginnings in Florence to his design experimentation in Mallorca, to establishing his atelier and home base in Barcelona.

Norman Vilalta Derby Simple Shoe Suede
Our second GMTO style is the culmination of two discoveries in the workshop. While recently sourcing materials, Norman discovered the most beautiful full grain brown bronze suede from the tannery Conceria Zonta that had the perfect touch of a light shine. He longed to give this suede a light brown patina and decided to use that patina suede combination for an upcoming boot. While re-organizing the atelier, Norman came across a forgotten box of old design samples. Out of curiosity, he browsed through the box and re-discovered old bespoke floor samples, loafers with aggressive patinas, and even some hybrids that you could call, “Frankenshoes”. There were plenty of goodies, but one unique shoe really stood out to him. Among the samples, he re-discovered the classic and signature Derby Simple Shoe, but in suede!

Norman Vilalta Derby Simple Shoe
As many of our customers know, the Derby Simple Shoe blends 4 elements to create an unquestionably comfortable dress shoe. This includes a lightweight but durable Vibram gumlight commando sole, asymmetrical pattern making, a very slim and streamlined silhouette, and importantly full grain leather with our signature 3D patina. The sample that Norman re-discovered embodied three out of the four elements, but with a brown antique suede with a light patina. This sample inspired him to give our Derby Simple another try in suede and he scrapped the original boot plans. The result -- the same attractive design elements and comfort of the Derby Simple Shoe that our customers can expect, this time with a subtle brown patina that brings out the wonderful texture of this beautiful brown bronze suede.

Derby Simple Shoe made in Spain by Norman Vilalta

For our third and final style this month, Norman wanted to offer something a bit more adventurous. Norman grew up in Patagonia loving the hiking boots made by Marasco & Speziale, a classic mountain footwear, known for their quality construction and the unmistakable “mountaineer” look. They were boots that worked well in the countryside or in the city. Fast forward 25 years, and Norman found himself in need of a shoe that worked well in either the country side (Norman is an avid fly fisherman) or in a meeting in Barcelona. By this time however, Norman was a shoemaker and he had the ability to design and make a boot of his own.

Norman Vilalta - Borcego Mountain Boot, Made in Spain

After a bit of design experimentation, Norman developed what he calls the Borcego Boot, the perfect boot for both your outdoor and city-life needs. The Borcego features a dual leather tongue covering, metal D-rings which provides an easy but secure lacing system, a Goodyear welted Vibram Commando Sole that is both durable and comfortable, a leather strap with metal buckle inspired by vintage ski boots, red mountain boot laces, and subtle marino fur lining along the Achilles for additional support. 

Norman Vilalta Borcego Boot

As for the color, for the first time ever, Norman decided to offer the Borcego Boot with our Black Collection patina. The leather is a dark brown with black patina accents that look nearly black in low light but reflect dark brown under the sunlight. The combination of the design and color allows the boots to either be a style statement when worn with dressier trousers or sharpen up a more casual look when worn with denim and corduroys. Put in more simple words by Norman, “if your outfit was a rock band, there’s no question the Borcego Boot would be the lead singer”.

Norman Vilalta Borcego Mountain Boot, Made in Spain

The Adelaide Oxford Shoe, Derby Simple Shoe, and Borcego Mountain Boot are available without the 300 euro made-to-order fee and at a special group-made-to-order (GMTO) price through Tuesday, July 23d at 23:59 PST. Shoe trees are also available for 25% off with purchase of each of the GMTO models.

If you´re in Barcelona, drop buy our men´s shoe store and atelier to see the shoes in person. We are located at Enric Granados 5, Local 2, Barcelona, Spain, 08007.

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