June 12, 2013 by Ville Raivio
Rozsnyai Shoes (pronounce ROASH-gnaw-yee) is a Hungarian artisanal shoemaker founded in 1980. The business began its path by making fashion shoes for women, theatres and bulk orders. Later on they switched to orthopedic shoes as European companies couldn’t compete with Chinese bulk make. High-end materials and finishing became part of the business some 15 years ago. The company’s manufacturing is based in Debrecen, some 200 kilometres from the capital and their main store, which is housed at number 4, Haris Köz. Shoe fans will recognise the pedestrian street as it also houses several other shoemakers of more or less renown around the world. The Hungarian school of shoemaking has maintained its guild-like nature as machines have not replaced hands, and this holds true for Rozsnyai too. Beside their own pairs, the company also makes footwear for several stores in Europe.
Today Rozsnyai remains active in high-end, orthopedic, made to measure and made to order shoes for men and women. Thanks to Hungary’s wage rate, they are able to offer fully handmade shoes for competitive pricing. Paper tracing, clicking, brogue punching, closing, welting, soling and finishing are made by hand with the stength of 22 cordwainers. Leather options range from Italian calf and buffalo uppers to American shell cordovan as well as exotics: stingray, shark, eel, crocodile, ostrich, elephant, hippo, iguana, snake, so on, with some 33 colours to choose from. Soles, insoles and welts are vegetable-tanned for comfort and durability. Toecaps and heel cups feature leather stiffeners, leather sole waists can be carved for a lighter look. Rozsnyai favours crust leathers with in-house painted finishes, with lasts coming from Romania. Pairs can be made with a blind, goyser, Norvegese or plain welt.
The company’s MTO program is extensive, with a 50€ surcharge, though the customer is restricted to readymade lasts. The style can be copied or designed from scratch, with free range with the uppers, leather type, stitchings, soles, colours. Mail and email sales are welcome, with detailed instructions for measuring and returns accepted. Models range from classic oxfords and derbies to fashion-forward and pointed pairs, with a specialty for the eponymous Budapester model, and lasts follow these lines. Rozsnyai remains a strong competitor to other Hungarian shoemakers, with the added benefit of smaller renown outside the country. This leads to short waiting periods for those customers in the know.
In March 2013, Rozsnyai took part in The International Shoe Service (ISS) exhibition, which is organised every three years in Wiesbaden by HDS. The main event was the contest of shoemakers in two categories: shoe making and shoe repairing. The firm sent two pairs of men’s and ladies’ shoes to each category, receiving three golden and one silver medallion — the highest rating in the contest among 45 shoemakers from ten countries.
Pictures: © Rozsnyai