Italian Romance With Paolo Scafora
Happy Easter everyone and welcome to my Review of my first personal Paolo Scafora Shoes!
And what a unique pair of shoes they are! A Norwegian Welted, Double Monk Boot design with a rich handpainted color and amazing soles.
In today’s article I will share my thoughts with you and discuss every component of these amazing shoes.
Shall we begin?
Who Is Paolo Scafora
Avid readers of Misiu Academy might know that Paolo Scafora is in my top 5 shoemakers in the world right now.
It is difficult to look at one of his shoes and not feel overwhelming emotions. Those can be both positive or negative, almost polarizing to say.
It is quite understandable however since their style is unique, sharp and flamboyant.
But this alongside the fact that they make genuinely handmade shoes, is what gives Paolo Scafora their clear identity and place in this market.
Without wanting to repeat myself, Paolo Scafora is one of the best shoemakers in the world. His workshop is in Naples, Italy close to another master artisan: Antonio Meccariello.
From exclusive, exquisite styles all the way to bespoke offerings, it’s easy to spot a Paolo Scafora shoe. More often than not from their incredible Tyrolese or Norwegian Welted construction.
Tip: You can read more about Paolo Scafora in the Best Shoemakers List or the Shark Skin Split-Toe Derby Review Article!
Choosing My First Paolo Scafora Pair
I dedicated quite a few articles to their shoes, but this was the first time I would own one myself.
That meant that the shoes had to be special and a rarer, yet tasteful style. As a big fan of Double Monks I fell in love with this design immediately.
Clean, surprisingly tasteful and with a lot of amazing features, it was an instant pick.
Commissioning a pair takes around 3 months and it comes with a surcharge for a single MTO. Don’t worry, I will discuss pricing later on.
Even though a smarter move would be to get a Vibram sole, I chose the leather one. There’s something special about the embossed crest on the bottom that gives me warm feelings.
Lasted Boot Trees and a metal toe tip were also a must.
Choosing a color was much more difficult than I thought! There are so many options, but I wanted something extremely versatile and realized I didn’t have so many genuinely dark brown shoes.
And boy I made the right choice as you can see.
It is customary for me to disclose all the details and specifications of each pair I review:
- Brand: Paolo Scafora
- Style: Double Monk Boots
- Model: Art. 771
- Construction: 270 Norwegian Welt (Half-Norwegian), Handsewn and Hand-lasted
- Leather: Full Grain Calfskin
- Color: Antiqued Vietri Dark Brown Calf
- Lining: Leather
- Last: R
- Size: UK 7.5 (US 8.5D/EU 41.5)
- Sole: Leather
- Shoe Trees: Lasted Boot Trees
- Additional Features: Metal Toe Tips
- Origin: Italy
- Price: $1599.99
Quite the beefy specs right? A real head turner when you want them to be, or subtle elegance when you don’t.
They more than justify the hefty price tag that comes with them as you will see.
For transparency’s sake and in case it wasn’t clear I paid with my own money for this shoe.
What the Paolo Scafora package might lack in accessories, it makes up in quality.
There’s not much inside the box other than your shoes and that’s totally fine. The box itself is really strong and sturdy and gives you a feeling of safety.
It’s much higher quality than the standard box I got from Antonio Meccariello for example. Everything is handwritten and the shoe bags are marvelous.
Silky smooth, thick enough and protected by branded tissue paper. For those that buy shoes with laces, you will receive a complimentary pair of laces alongside the certificate of excellence.
It’s a very high quality unboxing experience and becomes even better when you look at your new shoes.
Getting a Double Monk Boot right can be challenging. Due to the height of the shaft, a tasteful triple strap can often look better.
I think that this particular model strikes a very good balance with the proportions, choice of last and the angle of the straps.
They looked phenomenal right when I pulled them out of the shoe bags. My mind began imagining all the different outfits I would try.
Since I am no stranger to Paolo Scafora shoes I knew the quality was there, yet I always scan quickly for defects.
One thing that caught my interest was the cap-toe, which has a pie crust look with a slightly heightened look. And the trademark Norwegian stitching always blows my mind away.
It will surely take a few moments before you remember that you actually have to try the shoes.
What was rather gratifying though was to see the color I chose in the flesh. From product photos and a simple swatch it is often difficult to properly gauge the final color.
Thankfully it was the best choice I could make for this model!
Extra Info: Pie crust attaches two pieces of leather in a particular way, however here we have a decoration seam that looks similar in a way.
Following up from the previous section, the leather looked astonishing out of the box.
The name is Antiqued Vietri and is a very nice shade of dark brown. As far as I know Paolo Scafora handpaints all of the calf shoes.
It comes with a nice shine and smells divine. As I mentioned in previous recent reviews, I will not judge the leather much until I wear it a bit but at this price point you should expect great quality.
Supple, smooth and with one of the best finishing I’ve seen in shoes is an accurate way to describe the leather Paolo Scafora uses.
Compared to the Meccariello I have the finishing is superior (though vastly different price points) and StC is a no contest.
The leather is uniform in all areas and after the first wear a very gentle nice crease appeared at the instep.
However I must admit I don’t know where the leather comes from. I could easily find out though by contacting the very helpful Germano at Paolo Scafora. In fact I should definitely do that, just need to remember to put it in the agenda.
Of course, as time goes on and I get more wear out of them I will update this section if I have to.
While hard to describe the build quality unless you cut the shoe open, you can have a good idea by handling the shoe a bit.
Thankfully, Jesper of Shoegazing cut one open years ago which was a testament to the quality of the materials and the construction.
Apart from that, you can see the detail in parts of the shoe such as the cap-toe, the design itself and of course the welt.
Real Norwegian Welts and its variations are very hard to mimic and a handmade process which you can often see in Paolo Scafora’s Instagram.
You also feel the weight and quality of the shoe when you hold them in your hands. They are substantial, balanced, sturdy.
Build quality should never be a concern when you are considering this price point. Based on my experience Paolo Scafora delivers.
Buckle & Lining
I often see buckles in monk shoes that are parallel to each other and it looks aesthetically wrong to my eye.
Seeing them a bit more spread out and asymmetrical is what I prefer for sure. It would certainly look ugly if this was the case here due to the higher shaft.
The proportions would just be wrong, though each person has their own taste. The strap on this model is interesting as the bottom part seems to run perfectly vertically towards the sole.
Between you get a more crescent, half moon design and the second buckle at an angle. Finished with a nice silver buckle and a sharper edge.
The lining is also good with a very smooth surface and a suede patch towards the bottom. The half sole insert is good with handwriting all over it.
To sum up, everything is at the quality you would hope to get.
Stitching & Welt
While no stranger to Norwegian Welts, I never saw them so discretely done as in Paolo Scafora shoes.
It doesn’t look as bulky and is more often than not elegant if not a bit flamboyant. They always wax the threads before welting the shoes.
Looking at the marvelous braided stitching is fascinating and the level of consistency is mind-blowing at best. Norwegian Welting is a very Italian thing by heart alongside its big Tyrolese brother.
An ultimate display of craftsmanship and for a good reason. Other variations you can find in the Austro-Hungarian shoe school.
If you didn’t get it, it’s just beautiful.
The rest of the shoe is also great, with very high SPI on the uppers and double row stitching everywhere.
I previously mentioned the very interesting design element at the cap-toe. Unfortunately sewing methods and aprons are not my expertise yet.
Therefore I can only speculate and mentioned that it looks like the pie crust you often see on split-toe derbies or certain loafers.
It gives just a little bit of extra character doesn’t it? I really struggle to find something bad to say other than it costs a lot and is not everyone’s taste.
Update/Clarification: I am aware that this is a Norwegian Construction, not a Norwegian Welt as there is no “actual” welt. The stitch on the top connects to the folded uppers and midsole, then midsole to outsole. A more accurate way would be to say handsewn and not handwelted then. As always thanks to Jesper of Shoegazing for the valuable terminology.
I struggle to come up with a more beautiful sole than the one Paolo Scafora makes.
And I am not necessarily talking about the tightest waist and biggest fiddleback. Instead I am talking about the gorgeous embossed crest of the Scafora family at the front.
You can spend minutes gazing at them with a mixture of emotions. Many of you will say they wouldn’t want to wear the sole and ruin the look.
I know because I felt those emotions as well. Very interestingly, the embossed logo seems rather durable even after quite a bit of wear. A remnant -and reminder- of something special underneath your shoes.
Mentioning the waist was not a coincidence. While pretty beveled considering the Norwegian stitching yet not as tight as other brands.
They also do in-house installations of metal toe tips which I recommend. Excellent installation for sure and perfectly flush and level.
As for the rest of the sole, it’s really high quality. The channel is barely noticeable and the details and finishing excellent.
After watching the video of how Saint Crispin’s makes their shoe trees, the whole ordeal began fascinating me.
It’s quite a work of art at the highest level. Paolo Scafora shoes are beautiful, lightweight and fit each individual last perfectly.
There are a few nice details such as the lasered logo on the top of the handle. Both wooden parts join together with 2 metal rods and fit just as you would expect.
Since these are ankle boots, they are actually boot trees with a heightened handle which is just level with the shaft.
If you are spending that much on a great pair of shoes, get yourselves a pair of lasted shoe trees. It’s well worth the cost.
Last & Sizing
Paolo Scafora has a lot of different lasts to choose from.
Most of them run half a size larger than your regular UK so it’s rather easy to size for when you have data.
This particular Last is the R and it has a sharp almond toe shape. Very elegant and great for boots, bridging the gap between round and soft square toes.
It also runs half a size larger and fits similar to the DOOR Last but a little roomier than Q. As a UK 8 regular in multiple brands, I wear them in UK 7.5 for a perfect fit.
For comparison’s sake, here are a few of my other shoes:
- Paolo Scafora DOOR/VOLA: UK 7.5
- Paolo Scafora Q: UK 8
- Carlos Santos 401/234/397/316/445/362: UK 7.5
- Carlos Santos 389/387/437/462: UK 8
- Saint Crispin’s Classic: UK 8
- Petru & Claymoor VD2: UK 8
- Carmina Rain: UK 8
- Meermin Hiro: UK 8
- Crockett & Jones 325/337/373: UK 8
- TLB Mallorca Artista: UK 8
- Antonio Meccariello Chisel 2/Soft Square: UK 8.5
- Passus 2000: UK 8.5
In simple terms, take half a size down from your regular UK or 1.5 Size from your regular Allen Edmonds US sizing.
Comfort & First Wear
This was my first encounter with the Paolo Scafora R Last and luckily a good experience.
Since my foot is rather flexible I initially wondered If I should take UK 8 instead, but didn’t. It looks to be the right choice as I get a comfortable snug fit.
Initially I had a bit of a struggle to unbuckle the strap as it was a little stiff and I didn’t want to damage the leather. However it is perfectly fine now.
The most problematic areas of my foot are the 5th metatarsal (small toe) and the ankle area. Often I get slight toe pinching and a stiff shaft can hurt the inside of my ankles.
This last rests well on my instep without much pressure, the width is just right with enough room for my toe and the heel rests well at the back.
Overall a very nice comfortable fit that allowed me to enjoy the first wear a lot. I spent 3-4 hours at the office doing some work and the break in is gentle if not unnoticeable.
Those of you with really wide feet and a humongous instep would benefit from taking half a size up.
Comparing To The Competition
When you think about the price point it is a very valid point to ponder why should you pick Paolo Scafora over the competition.
By competition, I refer to shoes that fall in the same price range of $1200-$1500. That includes Saint Crispin’s, Edward Green, John Lobb and many more.
While I don’t have hands on experience with Edward Green so far, they are excellent shoes with top notch leather and the same goes for John Lobb. However they are too contemporary for my liking and strictly machine made.
At this price point I am personally looking for handmade shoes. Saint Crispin’s on the other hand ticks most of the boxes but is still too classic with what I consider horrific leather. I am not a fan and found Petru & Claymoor far superior.
At least leather wise, the Scafora is remarkable so far with some of the nicest finishing I’ve seen in the shoe world. Since 2020 I handled about 50 pairs and the consistency was amazing.
Compared to my Antonio Meccariello shoes (which cost a fraction of course) the leather seems also superior. However those were older shoes sitting for 3 years and I expect similar quality for the same Argentum Handwelted shoes.
You should do well to remember however that if you are not a fan of the style or Southern European lasts, you will not enjoy these shoes.
Of course they need to fit you well, but if you like the aesthetics it’s a brand you should consider at least once.
What I always tell shoe enthusiasts though is to expand their horizons and never “tunnel-vision” one specific brand.
Paolo Scafora Availability
Paolo Scafora keeps very few channels of established retailers outside of their own website.
For example, you can find some (rather expensive) shoes at Medallion Shoes and of course The Noble Shoe. While my selection is rather limited, the prices are pretty good and you can always order MTO through me!
Paolo Scafora’s website is rock solid, modern and easy to navigate, but I found their sizing advice to be lackluster or nonexistent.
Generally, I advise you to support your favorite reputable retailer and avoid shops that look shady or too good to be true.
For the current selection of Paolo Scafora Shoes at The Noble Shoe follow this link!
At the time of writing, this model is a live Group Made To Order (limited spots!) but always available via email.
How To Wear Monk Boots?
This is always a rather fascinating section to write for multiple reasons.
From my perspective in 2021 it’s so easy to wear almost every type of shoe with most outfits. Especially if the color is black or dark brown.
In most cases the rule of thumb is that the more details, the more casual the shoe becomes. Those details include broguing, rubber soles, bulkier designs etcetera.
When you think about double monk straps, they are a very versatile type of shoe widely accepted in most occasions. Not as formal as an oxford, but at the same time not as casual as loafers.
This opens up a world of possibilities for you. Depending on the features of each individual shoe, you can easily wear them with denim, chinos, flannel and suits.
Wearing them in a strict blue/white collar environment is not something I recommend but there are not many of those jobs left.
What I like especially about these Paolo Scafora Monk Boots is that he manages to make a discreet -yet amazing- Norwegian Welt.
Meaning that with most outfits these boots will look mostly like dress monk straps.
To conclude, don’t be afraid to experiment or wear them in different scenarios. However, make sure the combination and setting is tasteful and blends well together.
Who Are These Shoes For?
Where Paolo Scafora really shines though is the design and construction. They really have their own identity and unique look even though they can make classic muted designs.
In other words, for the person that has the budget this is an excellent brand to fulfil different ambitions.
If you are new to the shoe world, I always recommend beginning with entry/mid tier shoes to understand leather, construction and feel. You slowly build a core collection of 5-10 good pairs you can rotate and use in every scenario.
Then you are ready to continue to more adventurous designs or handmade paths. And that’s exactly when you should consider Paolo Scafora, when you are ready to take the next step in your journey.
Most are head-turners, a statement (if you want them to be) or a classic until you show your sole.
It goes without saying that if you find these on sale they are a no-brainer.
Lastly, even if you lust over them always budget ahead and prioritize your spending. A good pair of shoes isn’t worth it if you accumulate debt or overspend.
Get a pair though and it will be hard to go back. Who drives a Ferrari and wants to go back to a Fiat Punto right?
Paolo Scafora Video Review
Here is my Review in Video format for those of you that prefer watching! Don’t forget to Subscribe to the Channel!
And that’s the end of the Review of my first ever Paolo Scafora Shoes!
It took me almost a month to wear them as I wanted to shoot the video first. But now that I finally had the chance to do so, I almost didn’t want to.
Truly works of art with a sole that’s begging you not to wear them. But as much as these are works of art, you should always give them the love they deserve. And that love my friend comes from wearing them proudly for years to come.
Rest assured, I will do so and I certainly hope you loved this Review as much as the shoes! If you are in the hunt for really high end shoes, consider Paolo Scafora for your next purchase.
Of course, if you enjoy the content I would appreciate if you Subscribe to the Newsletter! I have more amazing content coming up and you get 10% Off The Noble Shoe!
Stay safe and I will see you in the next one!
Thank you for reading,
Hi Kostas – Forgive the irrelevant question but I like the denims you are wearing in the review – could you tell me who makes them? Regards
I don’t even remember! It’s something I picked up locally as I rarely wear jeans!