It’s no secret that Norman Vilalta is one of our all-time favourite shoemakers, and there are many reasons as to why. Aside from his wonderful personality (he’s quite a character, let us tell you!), what he has achieved since 2014, the year he launched his RTW collection, is nothing short of remarkable. We’re always happy to wax lyrical about him and we’d really struggle to name another maker who has achieved what he has in such a short space of time – from his reputation and global recognition to this unique design language that’s a breath of fresh air for the industry.
So, now that the fall/winter season is here and that we are only a few days away from the Amsterdam Bespoke Weekend trunk show, where Norman will be present and on-hand for bespoke commissions, we thought it would be a fine moment to reveal our top three Norman Vilalta models to help you combat this winter season in style.
As far as all Norman Vilalta creations go, the majority of them are on the casual end of the spectrum, which is why we thought we’d include this Oxford. It has a sturdy leather sole that’s artfully joined to a delicate upper, and a beautiful anthracite patina finish on the toe which effortlessly softens a very formal shoe.
This Oxford also presents a good opportunity to applaud Norman’s skills in drafting patterns. For example, the broguing on the vamp and sides of the shoe have been finessed so artistically with sweeping natural lines that are similar to the human body. Then, there’s the seamless heel which is a sign of quality workmanship. Many shoemakers don’t think like that when designing the patterns. But, Norman isn’t your average shoemaker and therefore this isn’t your average Oxford.
Like many of Norman’s creations, there are certain styles of his that don’t exactly fit into their prescribed box, and this U-tip Derby, which is the successor to the Simple Derby, is a fine example of that. It’s perfectly befitting of the Amsterdam way of life – it’s casual, refined and supremely durable, and therefore makes it a fine choice to wander the cobbled streets of our home city.
Norman is known for his love of lightweight Vibram soles, and the combination of them with artisanal uppers works so well. It looks heavy and robust. However, it’s anything but that, which is an unusual juxtaposition and reason for which this pair is such a standout style of Derby shoe.
Now that men are dressing down formal attire and dressing up casual clothing, the loafer has never before played such a key role in the modern man’s wardrobe as it does both incredibly well. As such, it pays to have a few in rotation. For us, Norman’s tassel loafer is up there with the very best, as it has a point of difference compared to other styles in the market, all the while being exceptionally well-made and finished.
Aside from the elongated last and Vibram soles which give it a very modern look, the patina work demonstrated on this suede pair here is profound. We’ve seen this shoe without polish and it was rather pale and boring. But, with a little bit of polish applied here and there, it adds volume and character, which is something you don’t often say about a loafer.