It’s no great secret that Italians know how to make beautiful shoes: its where the country’s penchant for fine leathers and even finer fashion comes to fruition. You probably already have a pair or two from Santoni, Tod’s, and—if you’re really lucky, a bespoke pair from Stefano Bemer stocking your shelves. But are you up on your emerging Italian names? There’s a fresh generation of brands pushing the needle forward on classic Italian aesthetics, churning out covetable shoes that you’ll want to make room in your rotation for. And Scarpe di Bianco leads that pack.
Founded in 2009 by William White, the brand has been quietly making waves in Europe with its carefully-crafted styles, and is just beginning to build a name for itself in the U.S. Like most Italian luxury brands (though a massive caveat is needed for Gucci), di Bianco strikes an understated form across its four ranges. There’s no blinding patinas or boundary-breaking silhouettes here, but each is quietly making a statement: think a cognac loafer polished to smoky perfection with a rich black toe, oxfords adorned with brogues in strong, sharp angles, and simple sneakers rendered in eye-catching full grain leathers.
Styles vary slightly from line to line: Di Bianco Premium leans more formal, with styles like patent leather smoking slippers updated in unexpected navy blue or monkstraps with textured leather details, while SPQR (pronounced “sport”) outfits classic loafers and leather boots with sporty, comfortable soles. What is consistent, however, is the construction. White, who cut his teeth at century-old brand Sutor Mantellassi, tapped his network of third- and fourth-generation workshops to bring his take on the codes of Italian style to fruition. The leather is hand-stretched, lasts are hand-crafted—the uppers of each shoe rest on them for up to 10 days to ensure a perfect fit—and soles are Goodyear welted to ensure they’ll withstand cobblestone streets or racing from one flight to the next.
That said, di Bianco tempers this heritage with innovation. Many of the loafers and all of the SPQR collection are made with flexible soles designed to move with your feet (or, you know, accommodate being shoved into a too-small weekend bag), and sneakers and oxfords are outfitted with sugharina, a cork embedding into the sole that keeps you feeling light of your feet. In short, they’re designed with the modern man in mind: with a nod to history, and feet pointed firmly towards the future.