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The Sure Footing

Author : John Santos

Submitted : 2010-10-19 12:51:01    Word Count : 942    Popularity:   82

Tags:   shoes, accessories, affluent, affluent page, affluent page magazine, art, auction

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It is an age-old standard to build from the ground up. Michael Toschi believes that for a man, the standard is no different.

Michael Toschi is proud of the Italian tradition he follows, but he has abandoned the antiquarian techniques that would make men’s footwear little better than women’s heels. He designs shoes tailored to the modern man. Toschi integrates the most technologically advanced craftsmanship with classic construction, and although the designer offers a variety of fine leather goods, he is most passionate about the shoes he creates.

Introduced to the shoe industry at fifteen, he learned the technicalities behind fashion early on and expanded upon them. Promising the utmost quality, he currently sells the “cacciatore” jacket, “made of the most elite Spanish lamb money can buy.” The Italian-made garment, blends a bucolic finish with a clean cut, and the shearling is the finest of its kind. Yet Toschi’s enterprise is first and foremost a shoe company. “I like footwear,” he says, “Shoes are the most important element a man puts on his body.” Toschi sees footwear as the foundation for a strong wardrobe, and he finds that “everything you wear is going to be dictated by your shoes.” More simply put, “a pair of Keds won’t give justice to a black suit,” so he creates shoes that will.

With his Vecchia Mano collection, Michael Toschi offers select clients shoes entirely fit to their comfort. His services are substantially different from traditional made-to-measure footwear. An invitation-only experience, the process starts with the last, which is modified to the client’s exact measurements. Toschi then carefully guides the shoes’ design, accommodating individual desires while maintaining his signature style. The customer selects from a range of artisan leathers, be it French calf or the designer’s preferred Italian leather. As a final touch, the raw leather is hand-dyed by a skilled cobbler. Meticulously, he applies the stain. With each pass of the rag, color seeps deeper into the leather until the skin reaches an ideal, rich shade, with the natural shadowing and subtle variation of bespoke craftsmanship.

“Vecchia Mano” translates to “old hand,” an appropriate name for a collection of sophistication and skill, but the technique involved is not entirely antiquated. Improving on traditional methods that could leave the shoe lacking in both fit and functionality, Michael Toschi gives bespoke a modern sensibility. He is concerned with “how the materials work together” and incorporates a thorough understanding of the media he uses in his work. Certainly a connoisseur’s choice, shoes from the Vecchia Mano collection offer extensive options for the indulgent client, from exotic skins to precious metal accents. Even jewels have been incorporated into his footwear.

Toschi’s ready-to-wear line is no less regarded. In fact, the designer is often surprised by the cult-like following his shoes attract, the result of the CarbonLite Ionet Suspension (CIS) he uses. This kind of suspension involves a carbon fiber standing platform that is engineered into his standard collection. Using the same knowledge of material application that makes his bespoke selection so desirable, the designer insists on the importance of comfort. His technologically advanced standing platform is pre-shaped to the foot through four independent sections. As a result, the structure insures the best possible fit of any shelf-bought shoe. Outside of his Vecchia Mano collection, these advanced shoes offer unparalleled support for the demanding, elite lifestyle and can easily become the keystone of any wardrobe.

Avoiding trendy, radical fashions, Toschi has a simple but admirable ambition: to create “the most handsome shoes on a man, both masculine and elegant.” While he considers the world at large “an inspiration to be re-rendered,” he often draws ideas from the auto industry, and he holds himself to the same standards of lavish innovation. Implementing this level of quality, Toschi, who is already planning for next season, intends to sell “a very racy re-invention” of the soft moccasin for his line of driving footwear. The black shoe compels attention with its subtle yellow details. He believes in the active man, and shoes like these offer the distinguished daredevil the ultimate combination of flexibility and beauty. Performance-oriented, Toschi’s shoes offer playful utility, and with collections ideally designed for golf and driving, he gives a sporty edge to traditional Italian crafting.

Always expanding the range of his bespoke line, Michael Toschi recently worked with Martin Estate to create a signature wine for the Vecchia Mano collection. Like Toschi’s own work, Martin Estate’s wines benefit from the best aspects of “mak[ing] things in the old fashioned way.” The estate follows well-refined European traditions at the establishment’s home in Napa Valley. The winery produces some of the finest late harvest wine in the country and produced a single, personalized barrel for the designer’s exclusive events. These events for Vecchia Mano’s elite customers, to which as few as twelve people may be invited, are decadent excursions: a sixteen course dinner prepared by the most skilled chefs followed by this superb rare vintage. The last event cost each guest $6,500 and was certainly a worthwhile extension of the Vecchia Mano experience.

Despite the growth of his company, Michael Toschi’s central ambition remains the same: to design shoes that are certain to garner admiration. Their classic appearances and careful particulars sublimely compliment their superior construction. Upholding Michael Toschi’s dedication to beauty and function, his creations easily become what he considers “the critical element of a man’s fashion.”

Michael Toschi’s bespoke shoes range from $16,000 to $20,000. Toschi’s “cacciatore” jacket is available for $3,750.

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