The Best Luxury Sneaker Brands of 2016

High-end sneaker brands are having a moment. Having become almost ubiquitous you now see them in the most unlikely places: on the red carpet and even on Wall Street. So before pulling the trigger on your next pair you need to read our primer on how to maintain your street cred by choosing from the hottest purveyors of luxury kicks around.

EPAULET

Founded in Brooklyn in 2008 and with a price range of $195-$400. A great value, unbranded in-house line using shell cordovan and with a variety of styles

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ETQ Amsterdam

The Dutch contender has designed a nice minimalist range of sneakers made in Portugal from calf leather and suede that compete favorably with top end brands.

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BUTTERO

Made in Tuscany and priced from $325-$480 Buttero is a well know shoe maker that has turned its hand to creating some of the best ageing footwear out there.

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MAISON MARGIELLA

With naughty boy John Galliano at the wheel, MM’s sneakers which cost from $470-$1200 are based on a reincarnation of a German army trainer but don’t let that put you off as the variety of materials and finishes is beyond reproach.

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LANVIN

Designer Lucas Ossendrijver is at the helm of Lanvin’s menswear and shoe collections which range in price from $490-$700. The result is a signature toe-cap style sneaker with the elegance of a traditional shoe and a thicker sole than most of its competitors.

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BALENCIAGA

Balenciaga’s two signature sneakers are a hiking boot-like Arena, with D-ring eyelets and the Pleated High-Top, with its horizontal panels on the upper. Both shoes are statement pieces and have achieved cult status via a combination of key celebrity showings and the fact that they look really cool, which makes them something that sneaker heads appreciate

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BIANCA MOSCA

Perhaps the ultimate “kicks” handmade in Italy from prime grade Louisiana alligator leather. Street style is given a luxurious twist with these superbly comfortable and effortlessly elegant luxury sneakers with solid brass eyelets and custom rubber soles.

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Men Now Buy 20% Of All Luxury Handbags

A new study conducted by Bianca Mosca, known for its ultra luxury bags and accessories made from Louisiana alligator, reveals that so called “Man Bags” including totes, duffels, clutches, backpacks, messenger and bowling bags now represent one in five of all sales in the global $35 billion luxury handbag market.

Despite the reported slowdown in China and recent setbacks in the global luxury market the 2016 outlook for luxury men’s bags has never been brighter.

According to Bianca Mosca’s estimate the aggregate value of men’s bag sales by value has more than doubled in the last decade with men now spending over $7 billion a year on luxury bags.

Yet whilst volumes have been growing at 5% per annum the amount spent per unit has been climbing by 10% a year leading to the conclusion that men are spending substantially more on each bag they are purchasing.

The study goes on to forecast that global expenditure on men’s luxury bags will rise to $10 billion by 2020 with just under 9 million units sold.

A Bianca Mosca spokesperson said:

“A major part of the rise can be explained by the growth in the numbers of metrosexual men who are becoming more comfortable carrying handbags that are quite unlike the briefcases of yesteryear and are willing to spend serious sums of money to acquire a fashionable accessory”

A further factor impacting the prices of luxury bags is the pressure on raw material costs particularly for the type of premium exotic leathers used by Bianca Mosca. The price of first grade unblemished Louisiana alligator skins has increased by 12% a year for the past three years and is forecast to continue growing as demand for exotic materials continues to outstrip demand at the top end of the luxury market.

Bianca Mosca which this year is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its founding in 1946, will be launching a new range of men’s handbags, briefcases, weekend bags and clutches in Spring ‘16.

 

https://www.biancamosca.com

Inquiries: tim@biancamosca.com

Bianca Mosca Launches Custom Watch Strap Service

Bianca Mosca known for its ultra luxury bags, wallets and accessories made from prime Louisiana alligator leather is launching a range of hand crafted custom watch bands in seventeen striking colors.

The watch bands come in colors such as St.Tropez Blue, Orange and Pink as well as more traditional black, brown and navy blue.

Customers can select their choice of color, width and length as well as the stitching in a configurator and place their order online.

The linings of Bianca Mosca’s straps are made from a high performance antiperspirant compound rubber. Moisture is evaporated and the wearer’s skin regulates the temperature under the bracelet to offer supreme comfort allied to the elegance of the fine alligator leather.

A Bianca Mosca spokesperson said:

“These bands are the perfect replacement for a standard watch band and a great complement to the fine craftsmanship of a modern or vintage watch.”

The straps are hand made in Bianca Mosca’s workshop in France and cost $295 including free shipping. Hand stitching is available for a supplementary charge of $50.

For more information visit: https://www.biancamosca.com

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Create Your Own Watch Strap

As a huge watch fan I’m always interested in new ways to embellish my modest horological collection with the addition of a choice new watch strap.

My favourite material is Louisiana alligator which is beautiful to admire, supple, durable, water resistant and wears extremely well. The problem is that most of the straps I see at jewellers seem to be a little boring being available only in a choice of dull black, brown and the occasional blue. Sometimes I long for something a little more racy and in a more exciting hue.

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Well now you can find almost anything imaginable by visiting the Bianca Mosca website. BM, known for their alligator bags and accessories, have introduced a fabulous new online made-to-order watch strap service where you can equip almost any watch, modern or vintage, with a sublime new strap with a wide choice of custom options.

Bianca Mosca’s alligator is prime grade, center-cut and square scale and is without a shadow of a doubt the best that money can buy. Combined with their special tanning technique their material is not only water resistant but UV-resistant too and guaranteed to be hypo-allergenic.

Another great feature is that the lining of BM’s watch straps is made from a specially developed antiperspirant type of hi-tech rubber. Moisture is evaporated and the skin regulates the temperature under the bracelet to offer supreme comfort allied to the elegance of the fine alligator leather.

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There is a huge choice of colors in both shiny and matte alligator including Blue Jeans, Emerald Green, Shiny Red and Havana Brown. You can also select your choice of stitching color as well as the strap width, length and padding height and buckle type. Hand stitching is also available for a modest surcharge.

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This new service should prove to be an  excellent way to transform a quotidian existing strap into something quite extraordinary and of course all designed by you!

 

 

Why Is The Best Alligator Leather So Expensive?

This is a question I’m often asked and it’s always difficult to give a simple answer. As usual I turn to the expert in these matters, namely Tim de Rosen from Bianca Mosca that makes probably the best alligator bags and accessories in the market.

Selection

The first criterion is selecting appropriate skins from the tannery. This has become extremely challenging of late as the demand for prime grade unblemished skins has soared on demand from the major fashion houses who are increasing the proportion of exotic skins used in their high fashion collections.

In order to counter this problem groups such as LVMH and Hermes have bought their own tanneries in order to “lock in” the best availability of skins.

As a result the prices of larger and perfect skins (i.e. more than 30cm in width) is increasing by 10% a year, piling the pressure on retail prices. Of course it’s possible to buy products made from the skins rejected by the major players but they will never be as appealing or tactile as those made from prime skins.

Dyeing and Processing

This is the most critical aspect of turning the tanned “crust” into a useable skin for making finished items.

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“Skins are solid dyed, before a pigment-based surface treatment is applied to highlight the beauty of the material. Working on skins involves an alchemy that evolves constantly thanks to the innovations introduced by the Manufacture. This total control of production makes it possible to meet requests for customised items” says de Rosen of Bianca Mosca.

Quality control systems involve numerous laboratory tests on products to check their resistance to rubbing, UV rays, pulling and twisting, as well as their hypoallergenic qualities. All of this adds to the expense of producing the best products.

Manufacturing

Making products from alligator is a time consuming and labor intensive activity. It takes many years of specialised training to attain the required levels of proficiency to make even a seemingly simple article such as a credit card holder.

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Constructing alligator leather products is a very different endeavour than making products from cow leather and special tools and routines need to be employed in order to work the skins effectively and to ensure a fine result.

Bag making is altogether a higher art form and requires not just experience but also sensitivity for form and function as each piece is made over many hours entirely by hand from a paper pattern.

In France and Italy where the best workshops are located salaries and social costs are very high adding a large part to the costs of making these high quality products.

Durability and Longevity

There is no material that compares to Louisiana alligator leather. It has strength, durability and resistance to moisture, heat and light whilst also managing to be extraordinary supple and soft to the touch.

Over time alligator matures as it’s used and acquires a unique patina.

With proper care it should last a lifetime helping to underpin the relatively high price paid at the outset.

 

 

 

It’s All In The Pores

I’ve always wondered about the difference between Louisiana alligator leather and crocodile. Like most people I wrongly assumed they were one and the same. In order to broaden my understanding I decided to call in the expert in the shape of Bianca Mosca Chairman, Tim de Rosen. As you know I’m a huge fan of their superb quality alligator wallets and accessories.

This is what I learned:

By carefully examining the leather in a crocodilian product you can get clear clues as to it’s species. Those products with a large amount of leather are generally easier to identify. Small products such as watch bands are much more difficult to distinguish.

This is especially important since the quality of crocodilian leathers varies greatly by species. Alligators and crocodiles in general are considered to be classic leathers and are in most cases high quality and high price.

Caiman, mainly from South American counties such as Colombia is an inferior product and much cheaper and abundant in the market. Although caiman has its place in the market, mislabeling has become such a problem that the buyer need beware. An example of inferior products is the widely available Nancy Gonzalez brand that is sold in many high end boutiques as crocodile but which is in fact caiman. Many caiman products are marked crocodile or alligator and sold at the high prices of these classic leathers. Alligator is sometimes marked “croc”, and “croc” is occasionally mislabelled alligator.

Some of this is a cultural difference. Americans tend to call all “crocodile” alligator, and Europeans tend to call “alligator” crocodile. Upon close inspection, one will find that some large pieces have mixed leather in them. In the past it was fashionable to make a purse with alligator on one side and crocodile on the other. Today, due to product cost, it is not uncommon to see a purse with alligator or crocodile on the front and back and caiman on the sides with a caiman strap.

Faux designs are getting better and better and are increasingly becoming more difficult to identify. Some faux patterns are made by rolling something over a genuine skin to make the press. The finer details of faux are beyond the scope of this page, but here are tell-tale signs: the creases between the tiles are not deep and the pattern is often very repetitive.

How To Identify Leathers: Alligator Umbilical Scars

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The single most distinguishing feature of alligator leather is the umbilical scar. The alligator is the only crocodilian that has this feature. Designers will often put this section of the leather prominently on their products to make the authenticity of the leather evident. As many as three may be used in making a purse. The umbilical scar is an elongated star shape with a webbing pattern in it. Finding this mark on leather identifies it as genuine alligator.

Pliability

Pliability and durability are what makes the alligator a superior and classic leather. Alligator and crocodile leathers are pliable. Caiman have bony plates in the skin, which dramatically decreases the pliability of the leather. When caiman leather is creased cracks appear between the plates.

Head Bumps

Another way the unpracticed eye can easily distinguish alligator leather is by counting the bumps on the back of the head. At the base of the head crocodilians have a pattern of bumps that is unique to each species.

The alligator has a pattern of 2-2-2 bumps. Caiman have a pattern of 4-4-2, and crocodiles have 4-2.

Belly Scales and Patterns

The belly scales of the alligator and crocodile are smooth and pliable. This smoothness and the homogenous nature of alligator and crocodile skins allows dyes to distibute evenly in the leather. The bony deposits in the caiman skin will not allow dyes to distribute evenly and causes crinkling in the belly scales. If you see splotchy patterns in the dye, then you are looking at caiman.

The alligator has a slightly less even pattern than the crocodile with some irregularities appearing in the scales. As already mentioned the alligator has the umbilical scar and the crocodile does not.

Flank Scales and Patterns

The flanks of the alligator have dense scales of even sizes, while the flanks of the caiman have uneven sizes and spaced scales.

Ultimately, your only guarantee is to buy quality products from a manufacturer that can identify the sourcing of it’s material from US certified farms that comply with all of the regulations set down for the ecological and humane treatment of their stock.

Not all alligator is created equal. Once the skins have been sourced they need to be carefully selected and graded and treated correctly in the tanning and dyeing process to ensure the best results-but that’s another story for a future article.

 

 

 

Alligator Bands for the Apple Watch from Bianca Mosca

Bianca Mosca, whose ultra luxury bags, wallets and accessories we have written up in past postings is launching a new range of hand crafted watch bands specially designed to fit the Apple Watch™ and made from prime Louisiana alligator leather available in eleven striking colors.

The new watch bands come in colors such as Blue Jeans, Dark Grey and Pink as well as traditional black and brown.A Bianca Mosca spokesperson said:

“The bands are a perfect replacement for the standard fitting and really bring the watch to life with a great modern design. This is the truly luxurious way to add a personal accent to your Apple Watch™.”

For more information visit the website: https://www.biancamosca.com