My lengthy search for a double monkstrap ended when I laid my eyes on the Castagna model by Santoni. I have been searching for a pair of shoes that I could wear to work as well as in more causal settings, and this particular model seemed perfect. A few months back, I tried on a “similar” looking shoe by Canali at Neiman Marcus in San Diego. The Canali leather felt rubbery and after five minutes of carpet wear, the shoes formed visible creases. This is not to say that I did not have my reservations about the particular Santoni because this was another internet purchase and Santoni is notorious for unorthodox sizing. What sold me, however, was that this particular model was from the fatte a mano (made-by-hand) line and cost less than the overpriced Canali. With that in mind, I made the purchase.
Santoni was founded by Andrea and Rosa Santoni in 1975, and gained its popularity by creating hand-made shoes that exhibited quality craftsmanship but also fashion forward styling the Italians are well known for. Just like Ferragamo (Tramezza, Lavarazione, Studio) and Testoni (Amedeo, Black Label, Studium), Santoni has multiple lines of quality. The highest of the Santoni lines is the “Signature” line which is entirely handmade. Next up is the “Fatte a Mano”-“tan sock” (i.e., the lining inside the shoe) which is entirely hand finished and antiqued. Then, there is “Fatte a Mano”-“orange sock” which is hand antiqued, followed by “Santoni Goodyear”, “Santoni” and “Nuvola” lines which are all decent but nothing to write home about. The top three lines are mostly Blake, Goodyear, Norvegese, or Bentivegna constructed (for more in depth information on Shoe Construction, check out J. Cusey’s webpage at askandyaboutclothes.com), and retail anywhere from $600 to $1200 plus.
My shoes are “Fatte a Mano”-“orange sock”, are Blake constructed and hand antiqued. They fit true to size, if not a bit roomy due to a somewhat pointy toe design. The double buckle closure, however, holds the foot in place for a comfortable fit. Compared to my Ferragamo Tramezzas, the Santoni is more substantial in size and weight. This is not to say that they are heavy or uncomfortable during wear. As seen from my amateurish pictures, the shoes have a purple hand painted sole, which is usually used on the more “fashion forward” Santoni models. The hand finish is evident in the different color of each shoe.
Santoni shoes are sold at Nordstom and Neiman Marcus. You won’t, however, find many attractive models or shoes from the fatte a mano lines there. Those who earn to see and try on fatte a mano Santoni shoes in person should visit the Santoni flagship store in New York, located at 864 Madison Avenue, but don’t be shocked by the exorbitant prices.