Best Modern Split-Toe Derbies? Norman Vilalta Gaspar In Grain Patina Showcase

Norman Vilalta GasparMore Exciting Shoes

In today’s article I will proudly showcase to you the Norman Vilalta Gaspar Derby in Grain Patina.

An exciting pair of modernized split-toe derbies infused by the unique creativity of Norman Vilalta.

Join me as we take a closer look and talk all about shoes!

A New Exciting Chapter

I decided to take a small break from my shoemaking journey series (Read the latest here).

One of the reasons was that I really wanted to share with you my latest exclusive collaboration.

As of now, my shop (The Noble Shoe) is an official retailer of the prestigious Norman Vilalta Shoes.

Norman is a legendary Bespoke Shoemaker with a very unique design identity and philosophy.

He and his small team are very careful who they work with.

Specifically, you have to align with their vision, ethics and have a genuine passion about shoes.

I am honored and grateful I qualify with my small shop to be a part of this.

My, Norman and his team created a small 5 model curated selection of models.

The delivery will be in September/October 2022 but I recently received the first sample.

It marked an exciting new chapter for me, as I can finally show it to you.

The Gaspar is a style rising in popularity lately but it has all the trademark upgrades of Norman Vilalta.

Specifications

Vilalta Gaspar The Noble ShoeLet’s check out the goodies in question:

  • Brand: Norman Vilalta
  • ModelGaspar
  • Type: U-Tip Derby
  • Range: The Noble Shoe Exclusive
  • Leather: Pebble Grain
  • Tannery: Weinheimer
  • Color: Espresso Dark Brown
  • Construction: Storm Welt
  • Eyelets: 4
  • Lining: Leather
  • Sole: Vibram Commando
  • Shoe Trees: Lasted
  • Origin: Barcelona, Spain
  • Price: $1149.99

A lovely make up that certainly isn’t for everyone.

It has potential to be a popular modern style for every day use and all terrains.

The price includes Free International Shipping and Shoe Trees,

Unboxing Experience

Since I was a bit out of time, I will remind you of my previous Norman Vilalta Review,

The Calder is one of my favorite pairs in my collection and may I remind you that I paid for it.

Norman Vilalta Shoes like the Gaspar come in a really big blue branded box.

Super sturdy and safe and actually quite spacious for shoes.

I do think they changed the shoe bags to a bit of an electric blue color which I like.

Norman Vilalta shoe bags
The Norman Vilalta shoe bags

Inside they feel like velvet and is very nice to the touch.

Everything is nicely packaged and safe and the shoes come with an extra set of shoelaces.

The “New” Style Of Split-Toe

A problem with designing a new shoe is that in the beginning there is only an idea.

It was hard to envision the Gaspar in this specific patina, leather and make up.

The shell was there but the smallest change can totally redefine the look of a shoe.

In this case, I thought about the usage that such a shoe would get but also previous successes in my shop.

A certain split-toe derby in grain patina was extremely popular, but it is also a shoe that you can wear daily and also casually.

Also in parts of the world that rains a lot many request rubber soles and what better than a Vibram Commando.

Derby ShoesThis is what the Norman Vilalta Gaspar truly is.

A U-Tip (due to the shape of the apron) with a skin stitched split, an aggressive last and commando sole and some width due to the storm welt.

This is a style that can go wrong very easily if you don’t know what you are doing.

Septieme Largeur and Norman Vilalta are recent pioneers of the commando style trend.

It was a very exciting (and scary) moment to unbox the shoes for the first time.

Luckily, judging by the reaction of most people it turned out to be an excellent decision.

This shoe takes no prisoners.

The Espresso Grain Leather

Pebble grain leather is on the rise so it was a natural choice for the Gaspar.

Specifically we agreed on a beautiful, rich grain leather from the famous Weinheimer Tannery.

Also associated with Freudenberg which had a reputation for a fantastic black box calf leather.

This was my first experience with this tannery so naturally I was a bit nervous.

However the leather seems as I expected it to be, very rich and looks to take color very well.

Espresso Patina Norman Vilalta Gaspar
The Espresso Patina Norman Vilalta Gaspar

I enjoy how the grain fades at the toe of the shoe, allowing for a lovely mirror shine.

Norman also specializes in a 3D grain patina with a lovely fade and multi-color tones.

Most of the shoe is dark brown, but the edges have mid-brown/reddish hues.

Time will tell how it performs and I look forward to your feedback.

My Calder Derby (albeit calf) still looks phenomenal which hopefully will be the case.

Storm Welted Construction

Without going too technical there are a few differences between a traditional Goodyear Welted construction and a Storm Welt.

The easiest way to identify a storm welt is by looking at the rib/strip of leather in between the uppers and the sole.

If you think about it, it looks a bit like piping.

Storm WeltA Storm Welt is also 360 degrees going all around the shoe, while a Goodyear Welted shoe is often 270 (but can also be 360).

Instead of folding the welt and tucking it under the upper, in the case of the Storm Welt it folds outwards creating this aesthetic.

A bit more waterproof, it also gives a chunkier look and is perfect for boots or casual shoes.

In conjuction with the commando sole I think this was a great choice to fuse different elements together.

Expect a solid, good construction and shoes build to last when taken care of properly.

Vibram commando Sole

When I started collecting shoes Dainite was all the rage and everything that popped up.

However there is a better player according to many and that is Vibram.

This is a Vibram Gumlight Commando sole and is comfy and the shoe very lightweight (for a rubber sole).

Vibram Gumlight Sole
The Vibram Gumlight Sole

The combination with the Storm Welt, the color, leather and last shape work together well I feel.

Such a sole should be easy to replace and last long enough for you to not worry about.

Stitching & Details

I don’t have so much to talk about here, since the stitching is as you would expect in such a high value shoe.

The apron looks great, but there is also a small surprise at the quarters.

Around the heel area there’s a small piece of the shoe that is not flush with the rest.

It’s purely aesthetic, but still a detail you don’t often see out there.

Additionally, we cannot not talk about the quilted padded insole.

I find it aesthetically pleasing but after using my shoes you won’t feel any difference.

Still cool to see!

The Round Last

A surprising thing is that Norman’s lasts have no real names.

There are chiseled, almond and rounder ones and that’s it.

This particular one is the rounder last which still has a hint of almond.

Medium round might be a more appropriate description.

Norman Vilalta Round Last
The Norman Vilalta Round Last

For such an aggressive style of shoe you either go square or round.

This particular one feels good with the rounder last and seems more accessible to more people.

The shoe also has a more unstructured side panel which is something I missed initially.

Often, shoes will have a form of reinforcement for stiffening at the widest parts of the shoe.

These don’t, giving them flexibility and suppleness so I assume the break in will be gentler too.

A nice touch!

Sizing Advice

Generally I find Norman Vilalta shoes to run true to size.

I would advise you to take your regular UK sizing (Carmina Rain, Saint Crispin’s Classic) or size down half from your G&G sizing.

For those in the USA simply convert 1 full size down from your Allen Edmonds US Sizing.

For example, a size US 9D would select a UK 8 in this shoe.

Availability

As aforementioned, the Norman Vilalta Gaspar is part of an exclusive collaboration with The Noble Shoe.

While you can find the Gaspar elsewhere, this specific make up and color is only available at The Noble Shoe.

The price is currently $1149.99 and includes Free International Shipping and Shoe Trees.

Buy The Gaspar ($1149.99)

Thank you for your support!

How To Wear

The Gaspar is not your average simple shoe.

It’s a statement, it’s bold but at least it’s interesting.

For many people this will be controversial and there were a few angry comments by viewers.

This doesn’t change the fact that it’s a very easy pair to style.

Casual by nature, you want to pair it with casual outfits and textures.

It can be the focal point of your outfit, which means you can keep the rest more muted.

Otherwise, create a nice interesting balance and color palette with colors like navy.

I wish I could show worn pics, but this is a customer shoe!

Video Review

I even have a hand Video Review for you all!

Conclusions

This brings us to the end of this special showcase of the Norman Vilalta Gaspar Derby.

An honor to be recognized by such established shoemakers in my small shop and carry their legacy.

Of course, an exciting model that isn’t for everyone but those that like it, will love it.

I will be back next week with even more exciting articles and shoemaking adventures!

Thank you for reading,

Kostas Mandilaris,
Misiu Academy

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