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Hands On: Carlos Santos Handgrade

Within the Carlos Santos Handgrade line we’ve co-developed and exlusive and premium line with the esteemed Portuguese shoemaker Carlos Santos, and we believe that it offers a great starting point for those who are getting into the world of high-end shoemaking. Here’s what you need to know. 



Unlike England, France and Italy, Portugal isn’t a country that you’d normally associate with high-end shoemaking, but thanks to the exceptional level of attention to detail and fit that Carlos Santos puts into this range he’s made expressly for us, it’s quickly getting the recognition that it deserves. Whilst the aforementioned countries all have a specific style – England leans towards more conservative styling points, whilst Italy and France are more flamboyant – which suits specific tastes, Portuguese shoes are more of an all-rounder and are, on the whole, immensely versatile. For those reasons, plus many more, Portugal is fast becoming an incredibly popular nation for shoemaking. 

To go back to the beginning, Carlos started training in shoemaking when he was 14 years old, which is a dedication to craft that’s incredibly rare to find these days, before then establishing his eponymous company in the late 1960s. It’s still family-owned and for the majority of its existence, it was in the business of manufacturing classic style shoes for a number of high-end luxury brands and houses. Then, in the last few years it launched its in-house range which makes up a small portion of its total output. 

In 2013, Dennis came across a handful of Carlos Santos shoes in Amsterdam, and was instantly impressed by a number of things. “I immediately noticed the comfort of Carlos Santos shoes, they were incredibly easy to break in and featured a surprisingly light construction for a Goodyear-welted shoe. Adding to that, they had a fantastically supportive fit,” he says. Dennis is, of course, a bespoke-aficionado, and due to his passion he thought how could we make Carlos Santos shoes and boots even more impressive for customers of The Hand? The answer was a collaboration!

“Our aim was to develop an exclusive range for our customers in the beginning of their shoe journey. Translating our knowledge and experience in the top-end, to come to a shoe that stands-out, radiating quality and including details that you can only find in the top-end segment,” Dennis explains, and thankfully for us (and you!) Carlos Santos were more than happy to oblige and create a range of elevated shoes that possess details found in bespoke shoemaking. 



We have a wide-range of Carlos Santos Handgrade shoes on offer that cover all the bases. From the Field boot, which is a perfect option for conquering any metropolis you find yourself in, to the wholecut Oxford, which is supremely elegant. However, we want to focus on two styles: the toe-cap Oxford and the Chelsea boot.  



Here at The Hand, we believe that luxury is the sum of all details – it’s the small things that matter the most, after all. When it comes to the toe-cap Oxford, we’ve introduced a range of high-level finishes that aren’t found in the mainline Carlos Santos brand, and these details can be found everywhere. For example; there are the rounded sole edges, which is a finish otherwise known as bombata, which gives it a soft and elegant touch closed channels on the top and bottom, which lends the shoe a more sophisticated look and is normally found in bespoke shoemaking; plus we’ve sculpted trouser corners on the heels, which cleverly prevent your trousers from tearing when they come into contact with your shoes (which is more often than you think!). Crafted on the 401 last, it has a round profile that makes it wonderfully easy to wear, especially when crafted using a top-tier full grain leather from the British tannery Charles F. Stead. 



The Chelsea boot also bears many of the same design details that make the Carlos Santos Handgrade collection so special. Of particular note, though, is that it’s housed on the 445 last, which we laboured over for some time with the family to perfect. Many RTW boots you’ll find in the entry-level market are formed on shoe lasts for sake of efficiency, however by making a unique boot last for this Chelsea we’ve been able to guarantee an exceptional fit around the ankle and lower calf. In addition, the Chelsea boot also features a double leather sole with closed channels, which again gives it not only a more balanced look but also a more sturdy feel that you rarely find elsewhere.

For within this price segment, it really doesn’t get much better than Carlos Santos Handgrade. We know so because we worked tirelessly to achieve that perfect equilibrium of quality and affordability. So, whether you’re looking for something to wear into the office with tailoring, or to be worn casually on the weekend, this range of exclusive shoes covers all the bases. 

As always, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Explore Santos Handgrade.

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