Warren Buffet said once „Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” After having a coffee with Mr.M, a great shoe lover, I understood once again that sometimes there is no connection between price and value, or, to be more precise, that one can get almost zero value for an enormous price. I bought many shoes in my life, and sometimes (but only in rare cases) the difference between price and value left a bitter taste in my mouth. Under no circumstances, however, did I have the feeling of being tricked like the following situation (even the shoes were not mine). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Communist. I understand how the price is formed and I understand that, as long as someone is willing to pay that price, economically speaking all is correct. Nevertheless it’s hard for me to defend, even economically, the shoe of which I’m talking, because I find it to be a proof of ignorance to buy a product of such quality when there are plenty of honest producers who invest passion and hours of work in order to create very good shoes for competitive prices. And like Latins says “Ignorantia non est argumentum.”.
My friend had just ordered a pair of Berluti shoes, being rather disappointed, as I could feel from the tone of his voice. He did not own any Berluti and he thought he could give them a try but he eventually wisely returned the pair. As our discussion took place over the phone, and as I felt intrigued, we decided to meet over a coffee so that I could see the product. I have to say from the very beginning that I am not a fan of Berluti shoes. Many idolatrize them, they are iconic shoes with many stories around them, but I don’t live on stories, especially when I have to pay thousands of Euros for them. I am not a fan of the Blake construction, and to be honest, the last pair of Berluti alligator loafers that I saw made me have serious doubts regarding the mental health of the buyer. For that price you could have had three pairs of bespoke shoes, responsibly made by shoemakers worthy of their names. It’s true though that on the bill was not written “Berluti”, but…
The shoes of which we’re talking about (Berluti Ilussion) are sold for only $1.720. For this price you will get “A sleek and stylish shoe, with an upper that seems to disappear in a subtle pattern of different-sized perforations. But the wearer will certainly not go unnoticed.” (source: Berluti)
In the presentation photos, the shoes look OK. Reality, however, exceeds any imagination. If this is what luxury looks like nowadays, then we’re heading in the wrong direction.The patina is horrible, made almost derisively, (in certain areas one can still see the marks of the laces) the famous Venezia leather doesn’t impress at all, having a plastic-like aspect, and I will refrain from commenting about the construction (there’s a big chance one could get one’s feet wet at the first rain, but this is another story). Briefly, merely an Illusion for the price of $1.720 . It’s hard for me to imagine how somebody could sell such a patina shoe when their name is Berluti. When you compare this patina to that of Alexander Nurulaeff, you realize that something somewhere doesn’t fit.
I would go even further. I would compare this pair to one produced in Vietnam by a shoe designer named Antonio de Torres (Massimo Ferrari brand) . The photographed pair is MTO, the construction being Goodyear, the leather comes from A&A Crack – Artifact Collection. The price is almost three times smaller than Berluti’s! Antonio does an excellent job. The shoe looks great, the last is well balanced, the leather is flawless with a cloud-like antique patina, the perforations are precise, and the sole is a small work of art. What could suffer improvements is the lining, which maybe doesn’t rise to the general aspect of the shoe, but we are losing ourselves into details. Bottom line, in the case of Mr. Torres’ shoes we are talking about shoes that can be worn without the feeling that someone could take you for a fool.