September 14, 2013 by Ville Raivio
‘I’m 40 years old and the founder and current general manager of Enrile. I design and manufacture all new projects, including new shoe products. I also oversee all our public relations with professional clients in our leather goods department. On the side, I also operate a blog I created a few years ago: http://enrileshoes.blogspot.com. And the fact is that over the last few years I have realized that a lot customers are interested in “what and who” is behind the product they are going to buy and the Blog is a great way to, apart from showcasing new products, allow our customers to learn about the hard work and craftsmanship that goes into all of them.
I studied Marketing in Seville, followed by a graduate degree in Shoe Design and Commercialization. My curriculum is brief due to the fact that I have always been self-employed and an entrepreneur. I am happily married and have 2 young boys. She is a lawyer and has her own law firm, working many hours as well. Because of that, she understands perfectly the amount of time that having a business takes. My wife has always been very supportive of my undertakings, and I can always rely on her to help me make the toughest decisions. Her opinion is very important to me and she is always willing to help. My kids are too young to even know what they think themselves! Maybe one day they can share my passion and work.
I come from a very traditional family, where the norm is to study a traditional major and then work in that field. I am the youngest of 10 siblings so perhaps they were too busy with the other nine or were just too worn out by the time I came around, but they were not as opposed to my work as I had originally imagined. I think they were scared more than anything but they have always supported me. They know what I do makes me happy, so they are happy.
My first recollection of my passion for shoes goes back to when I was 12. Even then I had a keen eye for shoes and fell in love with a Kiowa sewed by hand and made out of leather. I begged and begged until my older sister finally gave them to me as a gift. I think it’s fair to say that I don’t focus on classic shoes but rather quality shoes. Seville is a small city and before I was known for my shoes I was known for my work with leather goods. I started working with leather when I was merely 14. At the time it was simply a hobby. As time progressed I started selling a few belts to friends and family and that’s how Enrile was born. Today, the headquarters of Enrile is located in Seville and we also have a workshop in Ubrique. Our goals have not changed much since that first day and im happy to say that we have been meeting them slowly but surely. We have founded the company on honesty, hard work, and tenacity. We strive to transmit these values through our products.
As time progressed I built a large client base that naturally demanded classic products, including shoes. However, my clients are no longer restricted to the area of Seville! The internet has allowed me to expand my client base to an international stage. This new exposure has allowed me to have more room to reimagine my products. I think this allows me to evolve my craft, and allows me to go beyond just classic shoes.
The hand-sewn Claymoor model, named after Claymoor’s List
Most of my knowledge I picked up in my graduate studies in Elda, Spain. I also learned a great deal working with a very talented individual in Elba and helping him with his shop. Fortunately, a lot of the skills I had gained working with leather goods transferred directly to shoemaking. I also learn something new every day. If my curiosity and imagination don’t die, then I will always be learning something new. Lastly, I have read many old books that were incredibly useful and occasionally research online for new ideas and techniques.
When I was young I played a lot of sports: Rugby, Equitation, Fencing and Tennis. I even reached the rank of “Master of Sword and Sabre” and was the runner-up in the whole region of Andalucia when I competed. Nowadays, my spare time goes into my other great passion: my family!
My favourite boot model is the Balmoral boot. Without any doubts I’m very fond of my Claymoor model but I never have time to make myself one. My favourite leather is a lubricated and 100% vegetable-tanned calf leather, this leather is solely made in Spain and shoes made from this material use the flesh side, the same way that Shell Cordovan shoes do. It is a very difficult leather to be worked because lubrication does not allow glue to act on it, it ages in a very singular way because it has vegetable tanning, it tends to get darker and, furthermore, it is quite suitable for rain because lubrication repels water. My favourite shoe model is the Norwegian one in this leather [see last photo below].
I don’t usually dress very formal, so I don’t have a favorite tailor. However, this doesn’t stop me from enjoying and admiring the work of many different tailors I have tried and seen. The RTW I use most is “Pedro del Hierro,” because they are both comfortable and have a great price to quality ratio.
The director of Hermès once said that “Hermès is not in the business of luxury, but that of quality craftsmanship.” I think that also describes Enrile. Our style is to provide something original and artisan, this is what makes us “unique”. Enrile is not a shoe store; Enrile is a workshop where shoes are made, something very uncommon in Spain. Like other artisan shops our shoes “speak”, “transmit” without being flamboyant. They catch peoples’ eyes and distinguish themselves from the rest. We do not seek as many customers as possible or to grow exponentially. Our work is not for everyone, because many people will not appreciate the work and talent that go into every shoe.
light brown before use, mid-brown after six months
A good pair of shoes which are taken care of will age like a good bottle of wine. They will make you happy. There are shoes in every price range, and it is important to understand that a real quality, artisanal pair of shoes will never be cheap. Don’t try to compare standard quality shoes with artisanal shoes, they are in two whole different leagues and are simply two different things.’
Pictures: © Antonio García Enrile