Although often overlooked in favour of Italian elegance or English craftsmanship, Spain is actually at the forefront of the premium shoe industry! Indeed, Spain has a proud shoemaking heritage and offers some of the best value craftsmanship in the world.
Therefore, we have assembled this guide to provide you with the top 10 list of the Best Men’s Spanish Shoe Brands:
- Ramon Cuberta
- Justin Fitzpatrick
- Norman Vilalta
- Carlos Santana Shoes
- Berwick 1707
You can use the links to jump ahead or scroll down to read more. You can also learn more about the Spain’s shoe-making history and industry.
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Taft is a family-run, Utah-based brand that was founded by Kory and Mallory Stevens. Although they only launched their brand in 2013, it has quickly garnered a cult following for its radically eccentric yet elegant shoe and boot styles.
All their footwear is passionately crafted in a family-owned workshop in Almansa, a picturesque town near Valencia in southern Spain. Despite their competitive price points, the shoes are made using traditional construction methods such as the Blake stitch or Goodyear welt.
Similarly, only premium leathers are used such as box calf or calfskin full-grain hides. Additionally, Taft are renowned for marrying unconventional materials. For instance, their boots will often feature exciting designs with 100% raw wool panels.
"Taft is the ultimate purveyor of self-expression with a rich selection of creative yet tasteful designs and unusual blending of materials and colours. If you're looking to stand out, they're worth serious consideration."
An celebrated shoemaker based in Spain’s renowned Balearic island, Carmina’s story began in 1866 with Matias Pujadas when he opened a small workshop in Inca. Here, he began a crafting bespoke shoes, which launched a family tradition and six-generation legacy.
By 1905, his son Mateo opened one of Mallorca’s first Goodyear-welted shoe factories. Two more generations later in the 1960s and José Albaladejo Pujadas opened one of the most significant shoe companies in Spain.
However, José Albaladejo Pujadas didn’t establish Carmina until 1997. With his wife and sons, they returned to Mallorca to launch a brand that focused on premium hand-crafted shoes.
Today, Carmina is representative of Spain’s shoemaking craftsmanship and is revered around the world. Their ready-to-wear shoes begin at $315 with prices reaching in the thousands for their exotic leather specimens.
Furthermore, they have true made-to-order services as well as models that you can customise online from $585.
Founded by Sebastian Blanco in 1954, Magnanni continues to operate in Almansa as a three-generation family business. Indeed, today it is run by not one but all six his grand-children who oversea every step of the factory’s production.
One of Magnanni’s signature features is the hand-stitched “Artesano” sole. It can be recognised thanks to its distinctive double-needle stitch, and is a technique that requires years for an apprentice to master.
Finally, Magnanni is particularly proud of its hand-patina finishes, which were born from Luis and Miguel Blanco’s own creative colour theories. As a result, each shoe has a unique finish thanks to their exquisite technique.
Although Ramon Cuberta started life as an architect, shoemaking was in his blood. Not only did he spend much of his childhood visiting his great aunt’s shoe shop but his uncle produced traditional Catalan shoes.
Therefore, he joined a master shoemaker course in 2009 despite being in his late thirties. After working in the shoe industry for a number of years, he launched his own brand in 2014. At first, this was in a shared workshop. However, early success allowed him to establish his own showroom in northern Barcelona.
Today, Ramon Cuberta specialises in fully bespoke shoes and recently complemented this with a made-to-measure service. Nevertheless, he has recently introduced a ready-to-wear range that can be perused from his showroom.
Among shoe enthusiasts, Justin FitzPatrick may be better known as The Shoe Snob, a renowned blogger who specialises in footwear. After graduating from business school, Justin left Seattle and headed to Italy.
In 2008, he became an apprentice for the late Stefano Bemer before polishing shoes for Gieves & Hawkes on Savile Row. Five years later, Justin established his own shoe brand.
Founded by an Italian-trained American living in London, FitzPatrick Shoes are made in Spain near Valencia. Furthermore, the shoes are made using Goodyear welts with styles based on slightly modified Gaziano Girling lasts. The result is a veritably multicultural shoe brand.
At 31 years old, Argentinian corporate lawyer, Norman Vilalta, decided to leave his profession and travel to Itlay in 2004. Like Justin FitzPatrick, he studied under Stefano Bemer where he learned how handcraft shoes.
Vilalta spent the first 10 years of his career as a bespoke shoemaker and travelled the world to offer his services. Eventually, he decided to settle in Barcelona and launch a ready-to-wear shoe line.
All of Vilalta’s shoes are designed from his Barcelona workshop and bench-made in Spain using a Goodyear leather welt and hand finish. Moreover, he also offers a made-to-order service with a rich selection of customisation options.
Unlike most heritage shoemakers, Antonio Sanchez grew up in a farming family in Almansa. Although he aspired to achieve great things, he needed to financially support his family. Therefore, he set off to work as a teenager in the nearby Mezlan shoe factory.
After nine years working at the factory, he travelled to the USA to represent the brand in 1985. After presenting his samples at various department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom, he settled down to become the sole representative of Mezlan in North America.
Some years later, Antonio Sanchez and his wife established Pacific Shoe Corporation, a company that allowed them to distribute their own creations. Eventually, he bought the Mezlan shoe factory and even purchased an Italian footwear brand, Bacco Bucci, too.
We’re actually quite surprised that Carlos Santana’s own shoe brand doesn’t get more love! Founded by the legendary guitarist in 2017, the brand endeavours to marry high-quality Spanish craftsmanship with a Latin American twist.
Although their budget footwear is made in India, even their premium creations offer excellent value. Most of the shoes are constructed with a Goodyear welt and feature a hand-stitched finish.
Finally, part of the proceeds from Carlos by Carlos Santana Shoes is donated to his Milagro Foundation, which provides children with healthcare and education.
Firstly, don’t let the number fool you as it’s a reference to the Spanish War of Succession. In fact, Berwick is a young and ambitious brand that produces quality shoes from its own factory in Almansa.
Offering excellent value for money, Berwick shoes are crafted with French calfskin with a Goodyear leather welt. Meanwhile, their premium grade shoes are produced from genuine shell Cordovan and featured oak-bark tanned leather soles.
An celebrated shoemaker based in Spain’s renowned Balearic island, Meermin provides affordable Goodyear-welted footwear for both men and women. Thanks to their direct-to-consumer model through their website and two boutiques, the brand is able to keep their prices radically low.
Furthermore, Meermin have introduced a group made-to-order programme for selected shoes, which provides an even wider selection of styles. However, most of their collection is ready to be ordered instantly.
In terms of pricing, ready-to-wear shoes begin as low as $180 and typically cost around $250. There are also hand-stitched variants of their core collection for an additional $110. Meanwhile, their exclusive group made-to-order shell cordovan boots pictured above will cost $470.
Although we’re conscious that Camper shoes are made in China and not Spain, we felt that the branded deserved mention as a bonus given its cultural significance. Indeed, Camper was founded in 1975 by Lorenzo Fluxà, the grandson of Antonio Fluxà who first introduced sewing machines on the island in 1877.
After opening its Barcelona store in 1981, Camper opened boutiques in both Paris, Milan, and New York. The brand quickly went on to be a fashion statement and began diversifying its DNA with hotel concepts, Michelin-starred restaurants.
In 2014, the head of menswear for Mugler, Romain Kremer joined Camper as its creative director. Today, all their footwear continues to be designed in Mallorca and is produced in China.
Spain’s Shoe-Making History
Unless you’re already passionate about shoes, it may come as a surprise that Spain has one of the most influential shoemaking industries in the world. Indeed, even the English words Cordwainer and Cordovan are both rooted in the Spanish town of Córdoba.
However, it’s the town of Almansa, which is often credited for Spain’s shoemaking heritage. As you may have noted above, many of the brands we featured here were made in that very place!
During the 18th Century, Almansa’s shoe production grew as a modest cottage industry in a variety of scattered workshops. A “maestro” artisan would oversee his two officials and a single apprentice as they produced all their shoes by hands.
Although local shoemaking was originally destined for the residents of Almansa, word would spread of their craftsmanship and they began supplying nearby towns. Consequently, there were 200 registered workshops by the end of the 19th Century.
Mechanisation & The Industrial Revolution
Like Italy, the Spanish mainland was slow to entire the industrial revolution and begin mechanising production. Nevertheless, the Balearic Island of Mallorca that would kick-start a new industry for Spain.
This, however, was out of pure necessity. Following a devastating phylloxera outbreak, the island’s vineyards were decimated. Therefore, many of its inhabitants turned to leather working to make ends meet.
As labour was cheap and the island was dotted with empty wineries, the island used this opportunity to introduce machinery for Blake stitching and Goodyear welting. As a result, Mallorca became a trailblazer in the nascent shoe industry.
Meanwhile, the Coloma workshop of Almansa had also started incorporating new technologies into their production line. By the turn of the 20th Century, Calzados Coloma was the biggest factory in Spain and was producing 87,000 pairs per year.
In fact, just before the First World War, demand boomed and they producing over 4 million pairs per year!
Today’s Spanish Shoe-Making Industry
Needless to say, Spain’s position in the European shoe industry is particularly significant. Despite two world wars, a civil war, and a crippling recession, Spain’s industry has thrived in the face of major challenges.
As you may have now gathered, the Valencia region hosts the strongest concentration of shoe production with factories in Alicante accounting for 64% of the country’s manufactures.
The Castile-La Mancha shoemaking hubs of Almansa and Fuensalida, although smaller geographically, follow shortly afterwards.
Other major shoemaking areas include Arnedo in La Rioja, and of course the Balearic Islands of Mallorca and Menorca. Finally, some shoe production can be found in Illueca as well as Velverde del Camino.
All domestic shoemaking is supported by the Federación de Industrias del Calzado Español (FICE) or Federation of Spanish Footwear Industries.
The European shoemaking industry has faced many challenges in both the 20th and 21st Centuries. Despite the complexities of the current market, it Spain’s production continues to grow thanks to its strong value proposition.
From 2011, Spain experienced a surge in exports, which grew 12.4% in volume. In 2018, Spain produced 99 million pairs of shoes, which were valued at just over 2 billion euros. Similarly, it experienced 4.8% value growth in value compared to the previous year.
Why Buy Spanish Shoes?
Today, the majority of designer brands will actually default to Spain rather than Italy when seeking partners to produce their shoes. While Italian-made shoes will perhaps carry more prestige, Spain arguably offers a similar level of craftsmanship but at a lower prices.
As a result, major designers such as Fendi, Givenchy, Kenzo, Lanvin, Jimmy Choo, and even Gucci produce a significant portion of their shoes in Spain!
Between lower labour costs and their overlooked level of craftsmanship, the majority of Spain’s manufactures will strive to produce high-quality footwear. However, as they’re often overlooked in favour of their more prestigious neighbours, the Spanish have never quite garnered the same reputation from the public.
Therefore, until the shoe industry’s best kept secret is out, you’ll likely be able to enjoy their under-appreciated yet exceptionally-crafted footwear at very competitive prices!
Now that you have read about the best Spanish shoe brands and their history, feel free to explore our other related guides: