Coral Gables Custom-Made Shoes

The Hidden Artigiano Shop on Laguna Street is a Find for Men in Search of Fine Footwear

By Grace Carricarte

April 2020

When Artigiano first opened shop on Laguna Street in 2002, it was a small, stand-alone building in a largely industrial area near what would soon open as the Shops at Merrick Park. It was a lucky break for the three partners who started the men’s fashion shop, giving them a prime location without the prime cost of being inside a mall – though many customers have had to find their store by stumbling across it. Which is just fine, says partner Alex Odio. “Our customers walk in as strangers and most quickly become loyal friends.”

Now the area where Artigiano is located has become a hotbed of development, with the recent completion of Merrick Manor just down the street and several mid-rise apartment buildings under construction. And by this point, the trio of partners – Odio, Waldo Pacheco and Jorge Saez – have built a loyal cadre of clients, though they are now finding it harder to park near the store.

When I stumbled across Artigiano, walking with a friend from Trésor Jewels over to the Shops, the place felt cozy and friendly, full of racks of suits and shirts. But that wasn’t what intrigued us. After all, Coral Gables has more than one fine establishment for custom men’s clothing. What got us were the shoes, gleaming leather beauties that, as they soon explained, were custom cut, stitched, glued and hammered by cobblers in Italy.

I know men who dream of those London shoe shops where they keep a model of your foot, so they can build custom shoes anytime you call the order in. The Artigiano trio does not keep a model of your foot, but they do take precise measurements and send these to Italy for handmade shoes of exquisite quality.

Artigiano works with several Italian manufacturers, including Paolo Scarfora in Napoli. Want the best tassel loafers you’ve ever put on? How about a pair of oxfords in antiqued grigio leather? Or a pair of two-toned derbys in Amalfi leather?

Here you are going to pick the leather and every detail of the shoe, while your foot is meticulously measured for their Italian artisans. “This is the highest level of shoemaking and the most beautiful shoes that I’ve ever seen,” says Pacheco. Prices range from $1,500 to $7,000 depending on the design and the quality of leather.

The store also offers shoes that are ready to wear, for prices in the $300 to $500 range, and about 60 percent of their customers buy these. The rest are well-healed enough to be, well, superbly healed.

There is an old expression, “For the man who wears shoes, the whole world is covered with leather.” The real question is what kind of leather, and how well it fits. We prefer the Mark Twain quote on the Artigiano website: “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”

Partners Waldo Pacheco and Alex Odio