Traditional brands with a modern approach
rosa mosa, Scheer or Ludwig Reiter are names to remember on the fashionable streets of Vienna, where tradition meets modernism and a bit of local pride, to create timeless shoes for the most demanding ad refined of clients.
The best makers of handmade shoes are still the experienced artisans that you can find in old-time workshops of historical buildings. That doesn’t make them outdated in any way, as their traditional techniques still work wonders with modern designs.
In true Viennese fashion though, expect something more minimalist and practical, but where the evil is in the details: a rare animal leather, a striking texture or an unexpected colourful detail. Traditional they may be but contemporary style feels right at home throughout the following Viennese manufactures where leather magicians prove their talents:
rosa mosa – contemporary handmade shoes
The story of rosa mosa begins with a collection of handmade wood-carved sandals presented at London Fashion Week. While this tale begins a thousand odd miles away, Simone Springer and Yuji Mizobuchi relocated to Austria over a decade ago and made the best of the local crafts on offer. With several awards already in their pocket, they continued to innovate and experiment with design and handcrafts, gaining recognition as a brand full of individualism.
One look at their store is enough to explain that; and explain why Vienna was a welcoming home to them. Their footwear is largely made out of dark-coloured leather, with the occasional textile detailing, while the designs are often minimalist, flat-soled and somewhat vintage in appeal. The shoes and accessories have a really quirky look which makes them great (and quality) souvenirs, more so since most of the materials are locally sourced from Austria and the manufacture is also tasked to local artisans.
Scheer – the Viennese Classic
When it comes to history, few brands can compare to Scheer, whose 2-century anniversary cake is already in the oven for 2016 – just imagine how many candles that needs! And they’re all well-deserved, as the family business already in its seventh generation enjoyed great success amongst royalty, celebrities, artists and other refined tastes.
Times might have changed from the days when they would supply the Habsburg court but the store keeps the same lavish antique feel, with historic reminders of their work scattered around like the inside of a museum. The standards of quality are higher than ever, with their bespoke shoes made out of 200 parts and from leathers as casual as calf and as exotic as shark. The style is more on the classic side, often letting the texture do the talking, aesthetically speaking.
One pair can take six months to make, with at least 3 visits to the workshop, where you can see a handful of artisans at work. It is indeed a special experience – one that comes with a waiting list since they can only create around 300 pairs of shoes per year. If you’re planning a visit, keep in mind that you can get bespoke versions of their handbags as well.
Ludwig Reiter – Timeless Quality
Compared to their previous fellow artisans, Ludwig Reiter are almost teenagers with “only” 120 years of experience in the shoemaking industry. And they became famous through some royal connections too, when they suited and booted (well, just booted) the Imperial security brigade.
About four generations later, you can find the family-run business in the historic city center, where they still use Ludwig Reiter’s traditional techniques but to more modern results. The main goal though, is still to produce a high quality Goodyear-welted shoe for all occasions. This means that comfort is always on their mind, even when experimenting with modern styles and alternative designs. The timeless qualitative traits of their shoes have made them a hit with European customers and they have also expanded to other leather goods such as handbags and other quality goodies.
If your checklist for shopping in Vienna includes the purchase of a quality pair of handmade shoes, these are the places where you should start your search. Tested and trusted for decades. But if in your travels you find something new and equally interesting, why not become an Insider and share your cool finds? Happy shopping!