Imperfect Beauty

meet the maker

124 Shoes x Preventi

Words by Billy George, Photos by Marco Maroni

When it comes to styling, Italians really know what they're doing. It's something about those European gents; they really know what they're doing. Italians really do it best.

When you ask any gent about Italian styling, you almost get the same answer spoken in many ways. Sartorial Sprezzatura.

Sprezzatura? It's an art form in menswear. It's appearing stylish yet without effort. A cunning trait of the Italians, yet there are many ways to give the appearance of nonchalance. A second skin is what fashion is about, becoming comfortable in the stylish clothes you wear for so long that it puts your confidence at ease at any social situation. 

A certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without thought.
— Castiglione

In fashion, 'Made in Italy' is important. Why? When you think Italian, you think quality. It's the craftsmanship that comes with it. The passion. It can often be difficult to answer the question as you look at street style photos coming out of Milan and Florence come each season of fashion week. It's heavily represented across tumblr, across a million other menswear blogs, and of course, the great publications that spend sleepless nights covering the gents that strut there stuff. Ask any Italian, it's about having a certain air about you, a certain confidence to show. Enviable self-assurance. 

A driving factor, touched above, is passion. It goes a long way and is the primary driver of why Italian styling looks effortless. The time poured into crafting the perfect pair of shoes by hand is the exact reason. It's not accidental. Their superb taste helps the industry all around Italy, not just Milan, really push for innovative design with a traditional touch. The distinct Italian look is artfully put together and will remain so. So looking Italian starts with the shoes and building from there; it's the little things that count! The details.


A Hunt for THe perfect PAIR Italian shoes

preventi italian made leather shoes

Italian swagger. Ahhh yeah you know what I'm talking about - adding this to your personal style requires a bit of study rather than dabbling straight into it - you can't fluke it. It's the small things that count; so starting from the perfect pair of shoes is a good way to start thinking about Italian styling, from there you can build your wardrobe with staple pieces.

This brings me to the point of this article; 124 Shoes hosted a lovely group of people, including myself, to meet the maker of the Preventi range of shoes. Boy was that an experience. With a unique experience for those with a knack for wearing quality dress shoes, the hand selected range is exquisite. It truly exhibits the artisanal qualities and craftiness of the Italians. Regardless that Preventi has its origins in Spain, their Made in Italy ideology represents two important concepts, quality and tradition. The shoes are produced in the Italian region of Marche, home to the world’s best shoe producers. 

The truly amazing part of it all was meeting the maker, who ran through how the shoes are actually made from scratch, the hands on process and the stringent quality practices that make each shoe unique. One thing stuck with me - their slogan 'Imperfect Beauty'. That's essentially what being Italian styling is all about - the imperfections truly become the eye catching piece.


The shivering break

Once the shoes are sorted, the next thing you need is a damn tailor. A good one at that. You don't need a huge wardrobe, what you need is one that has the right clothes you can mix and match. The right clothes come with the right fit for you. The perfect length trousers that. Italian styling is about spending hours with your tailor to get the right height in relation to your shoes. And that's what the shivering break is - when the hem meets the shoe without rumpling. The latest trends have that a little higher, showing off the ankle but not too much that it turns into a three-quarter pair of chinos that the boy bands of early 2000's seemed to be all about. 

The lesson? Find an alterations tailor, build a relationship and assiduously have your clothes altered to fit.


Develop your own style, kids

It can be hard to venture into something different without copying. Developing particular 'quirks' that are direct translations from someone else leads away from your own character. Quirks are what expresses your individuality - "he's that leather jacket & fedora guy!" The nuances that make one person may break yours. Doing your homework helps to build on your personal style all while taking on the influential Italian look is the best way to move forward. There are a number of tricks that can add to your look. Think your shirt sleeve over the blazer. Think bracelets piled up on the left wrist. Think blending patterns. The combinations are endless! Only your imagination can stop you now.