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Enzo Bonafe Factory Revisit 2024

Enzo Bonafe Shoes Factory VisitBack In Bologna

Last year, I paid a visit to the wonderful people at the Enzo Bonafe Factory.

A couple months ago, I went back and it was an excellent opportunity to see what changed.

We also took much better photos, which will be the focus of the article.

Let’s take a look.

Happy To Live Close-By

I live in Florence, which is pretty much an hour away from the Enzo Bonafe Factory in the nearby town of Bologna.

Like I mentioned above, I was not happy with the quality of the photos I took last time.

Since I work with them and I had to discuss the upcoming collections, it was the perfect opportunity to do better.

In this occasion, I think we nailed it.

ALmost A YEar From Signore Enzo’s Passing

Enzo Bonafe Team
Archive Picture of The Enzo Bonafe Team

When I visited in 2023, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Enzo Bonafe again.

Vibrant as ever, working as ever and with the same passion I remember him even in his late 80’s.

Unfortunately, Mr. Bonafe passed away on May 9 if I remember right.

His kids Massimo and Silvia were already running the business but it is always tough losing your beloved father yet having to continue working like nothing changed.

The absence of Enzo was evident, but thankfully the legacy lives on through the wonderful family.

A Proper Walkthrough

Enzo Bonafe Shoemaking in the Factory
Enzo Bonafe Shoemaking in the Factory

This time, I visited while the workers were there, so we could have an actual demonstration.

In the picture above, you can see the stitching that goes into the hidden channel.

You carve the sole a little open, fold it and then make a channel and stitching.

In the end, you cover the stitches with the leather, glue it and it becomes seamless once more.

It’s fascinating really to see in real time.

Vintage Shoemaking ToolsThe workbenches were full of vintage tools, with signs of decades of use.

I can’t help but wonder how many astonishing shoes have been made using these tools.

Construction is also a staple of Enzo Bonafe.

Blake Stitched, Hand-welted and Norwegian Construction is the main tradition here.

A shoe in the process of hand-welting

It’s such a joy to watch someone do this, only matched when I do it myself.

The welt is what bonds the different parts of the shoe together, such a vital step in the shoemaking process.

It is also not a consistent, linear process as you have curves such as the toes.

For me this was by far the hardest point of hand-welting as a ton of stuff can go wrong.

They make it look effortless though don’t they?

And how can you forget Signora Bonafe still working full time at the workshop?

Such a vibrant, wonderful lady and the first line of defense.

While lost in this world, it’s easy to forget what a colossal number of lasts and models they have on display or hidden around.

Or how small such a factory is compared to the juggernauts you see out there these days.

I always get a sense of welcoming and family atmosphere whenever I visit Enzo Bonafe and it makes me very happy.

I sure hope I can convey even just a little sentiment to you reading this.

If they wanted, they could do their own thing, or modernize and expand I am sure, but I am grateful that they have a lean, family business even in 2024.

This is something that gave me great food for thought as The Noble Shoe is about to usher in a brand new era this year.

A Bunch Of Exciting Shoes Arriving Soon

Of course, we had to talk business for The Noble Shoe.

This means there’s a bunch of new shoes on the horizon for future collections, GMTOs and even a little bit of stock.

The quality of the product and the service alongside the friendship I’ve fostered with the Bonafe family now makes every visit special.

Honestly, I am looking for an excuse every time to just go and visit them and talk about shoes and life.

Oh and if you are around, don’t sleep on Bologna the food is absolutely fantastic.

Until next time, enjoy the images, the passion behind these words and be a little patient as I am going to set the shoe world alight soon.

Thank you for reading,

Kostas Mandilaris,
Misiu Academy

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