Mr. Vass you are one of the most iconic shoemaker in Eastern Europe and your shoes are wanted all over the world. The history of Laszlo Vass shoes is relatively well known so we will not focus on it. What we are interested now is the creation process at the end of which the Vass shoe is created. All your shoes are hand –sewn and where do you get the leathers for upper and sole?
All of our shoes are 100% hand-sewn in our factory in Budapest. We are using the best quality leathers from over the world: the box calf is from France, the original Cordovan from Chicago, and all the special type of leathers (suede, shark, ostrich, caiman) are from Italy. The vegetable tanned sole-leather is from Jon Rendenbach jr.
Creating and completing all the manufacturing steps need a few artisans. What are the key figures at Vass shoes?
At Vass Shoes I am the only key figure . I make all of the decisions considering which artisan has to do which step. We are not running a school; only the best specialists are employed. Presently at our factory are working about 20 shoemakers.
You have started in Budapest a rich Cultural&Social environment. How these environments affect your design and how did you describe yourself as a shoe designer?
One of the most memorable story dates back to the very beginning of our history. Just a few months after I had opened the store in Budapest, a Swiss gentleman walked in and showed an article titled from a Swiss newspaper “The world famous Budapest model is again available”. We were very proud because of this.
Austro-Hungarian School of shoemaking has a long history with good times and bad times. How is the business environment for now in Hungary (relating your business) and what would you change if possible?
These times the business runs well. It could be better, but it was also worse some years ago. In Hungary there are always big possibilities. We Hungarian people, we are great survivors. In terms of change, I won’t change anything. Except, that we need to make more shoes.
You offer stunning shoes at incredibly good prices. How do you make it and what are the differences that makes your shoes a very wanted by gentleman’s all over the world?
The most classical model with the greatest tradition, the Budapest model, is made with the classical Budapest design and with the classical Budapest last. The Budapest model is also available on different lasts; our latest last is a result of cooperation with Roberto Ugolini. Some more traditional and some new models are designed by our designers.
The people likes good shoes for good price. We need to find the best balance. We are not afraid to sell shoes for good price. But we need to focus also on quality. If there is a good balance, then everybody is happy and they’ll wear the shoes with good feeling. This is our goal.
Can you describe the most unique shoe that a client has ever ordered for bespoke?
One of the most unique shoes, in a strange way, was a red-white-blue colored pair of shoes for a Dutch. The most beautiful pair of footwear was a Budapest-Oxford model in a dark brown – antique cognac color on an Italian shaped last of us.
What’s the scariest shoe trend that you see today?
The scariest trend we can see here is the extravagant line; for example a cognac colored leather combined with neon green shoelaces and insoles.
The world is in continuing change and now we see that signs of crisis appear even in stabile luxury markets. Due to this an increasing number of shoemakers try to adapt to the new environments.
What changes will be made by you in the near future in designs or prices?
We are targeting new markets like Far East and the USA, and we are increasing the “e-trade”. This new environment doesn’t effects our designs and prices; we are rather intensifying the made-to-order line.
What is your favorite pair of Vass Shoes?
My favorite pair of shoe is a pure cognac Budapest model on a New Peter last.
How do you see the future of shoemaking (bespoke) and especially Hungarian?
It’s difficult to give a proper answer. On one hand there always will be demand for high quality handmade bespoke shoes but on the other hand there are lots of well-known shoemakers worldwide especially in the UK and in France. With our tradition and experiment in shoe making collaborating with the renown of the Budapester shoes are the basics of our future.
What advice can you offer to aspiring shoemaker? Do you advise him to do only bespoke or to rapidly expand his work to ready to wear?
Today’s market prefer ready to wear shoes therefore expand his stock would be a good choice.
We are now focusing on our new store. It takes all our time.
Being a family company what future plans do you have and what is the next Vass generation?
We hope the Vass Shoes always be a family company. The youngest generation, the grandchildren will study shoe design in college.