Antonio García Enrile, 46 years old is the founder, and, as he likes to call himself, “current workshop manager” of Enrile. Headquartered in Sevilla, Spain, the brand is mainly known for its high-quality men’s shoes. However, it offers also a very broad product range of various leather goods such as belts, wallets and watch straps. Have a closer look at the beginnings of establishing Enrile, their product range and some characteristics of their shoe production process.
Antonio’s journey of creating Enrile
It was something organic; a hobby turned into a passion, and eventually, a job. Being very young (14 years of age), Antonio started in a self-taught manner, making bracelets for his friends. Progressively, he dared venturing into making belts and some horse-riding implements. It definitely was not a family inherited job. There has never been anyone in his family who has worked in craft in any way. There have been entrepreneurs though, and there is no doubt that, for a craft brand to be successful, the combination of craftsman and businessman is something necessary.
Antonio decided to study marketing in the EUSA group and this formation has been undoubtedly useful. However, as he was always sure that he wanted to have his own business, he has never finished his certificate.
Antonio’s professional career
Antonio started his formation as a craftsman many years ago. Back then, there was no internet access nor all the information available today. During this period, he managed to develop many techniques by myself. Several years later, he had the opportunity of taking a short course on traditional Spanish saddlery. This was truly useful, allowing him to carry on experimenting successfully in a self-taught manner.
He subsequently founded a workshop within the most prestigious horse-riding club of his city, the Real Club Pineda de Sevilla, and worked there as a master saddler for six years. During this time, he could not stop thinking about shoes. Hence, with the shop open and in business, he started to visit the town of Elda. For three years, he was going there for one week per month, and that is how he managed to learn design and pattern cutting. Afterwards, through constancy, he developed the rest of the craft by himself. His formation as a saddler has definitely facilitated him becoming a shoemaker.
Antonio also travelled to Argentina, where he learned how to work with raw leather. He met master Pedro Figueroa who opened his home’s doors for him and with whom he had the privilege of learning some of the Gaucho’s traditional crafts. After these experiences, he would always recommend learning the craft in professional schools instead of trying as an autodidact.
Enrile product range
Although Enrile is mainly known for shoes, we cannot consider it a classic shoemaking business. Commonly, the artisan that makes shoes is specialized and does not make other products. Enrile offers a very broad range of products: apart from shoes you can also find high-quality belts, hunting implements, wallets and many more.
One of the main goals of Enrile products is the creation of quality items made to last. These however shall also be timeless. of the designs, like the monogram cufflinks or the suitcases have been in production for more than 20 years yet remain completely modern. Most people approaching the Enrile workshop and looking for shoes would like to find a unique shoe they can use for the rest of their life.
Within Enrile, Antonio has a very extensive and fascinating job. He is responsible for developing new techniques, new products, keeping an eye on production and dealing with customers. Although bespoke shoes were part of his product range some time ago, Antonio eventually decided against as the fit of a shoe is something too subjective. Each client has different fit sensation, even the same person can have different sensations in different periods. Therefore, the information he extracted from the trial shoe they made was not real, or at least not always. He then decided to turn the system around and implement a Made to Order system, in which the client can choose from a variety of variables to customize the shoe.
The experience of bespoke allowed him to develop a series of lasts (two models) with three widths per size. This way they can achieve a correct fit in almost every case, and this allows them to accept commissions from a multitude of places, including through the internet.
The extensive misuse of the term “handmade”
You might have followed the discussions on Instagram and on various blogs about the term “handmade” which is often abused and misused by various brands who try to give their product value through words. There is the issue of words losing their value, as for example you can commonly see the terms goodyear and handmade together. This however is contradictory as Goodyear is an industrial construction method getting its name from the machine that welts the shoe.
Enrile’s shoe production process
Enrile Made to Order shoes are made following the tradition of hand welting. All interior pieces are made from vegetable tanned leather, made and shaped around the last. Some characteristics of their shoe production process:
- Johann Redenbach soles are chosen when using leather and Vibram for rubber
- The welt is from the prestigious Johann Redenbach house too
- Every part of the upper is cut choosing the best parts of the skins and cut in the right direction
- The lasting is done by hand, therefore making sure the stretching is done by exactly the right amount
- Beechwood is used for the shank
- Heels are made in 0.5cm leather layers
- Leather soled shoes are handwelted with a hidden hand stitch
- Rubber soled shoes are handwelted and then stitched with the Rapid E machine (it simply does a better job than the hand)
- The thread for welting is made with linen and wax (a mix of pitch resin and beeswax). This guarantees excellent tightness.
Each shoe is delivered with its shoe tree, an exact copy of the last it was built on. This guarantees better life and more graceful ageing for their shoes. The sum of these factors, the method and construction technique guarantee a breathable, comfortable and durable shoe.
For most of their leather goods they use a Spanish vegetable tanned calf. In Spain there is a great tradition in the production of this type of leather, which has a beautiful, very natural ageing. For some ladies’ pieces, they use some chrome tanned leather as well as mixed tanned leathers. They also work with lizard, carpincho and of course, Cordovan from Horween.
Cordovan watch straps and the leather used
Watch straps in Cordovan are something they are particularly proud of. Enrile offers some ready to wear watch straps, but more is ordered as MTO. This gives the client the opportunity to keep his watch’s original clasp.
There are many more variables the client can choose, such as the internal padding, thread colour, leather. Most often Cordovan and Lizard leather are being used for this product. In general, all straps are made from solid leather, which makes them flexible and breathable. This video perfectly explains everything you might need to know about their watch straps:
The influence of Social Media
Quality, specialized blogs that have demonstrated their credibility through their good work, provide the consumer with knowledge and help companies that make handcrafted products getting out there. The appearance in many of these has brought Enrile new clients from all over the world that otherwise might have never found out about them.
A couple years ago Antonio started a blog in which he showed the pieces they made. Furthermore, he also commenced taking part in classic menswear forums. In the beginning, Enrile had a very basic website that they have been updating and improving over the years. Their products are also being shown in their Facebook account. Most interaction is however created through Instagram (Enrileshoes). This is a massive window to the world enabling to show the work and quality craftmanship they offer.
Antonio has always had an obsession for transmitting the client all the technique, effort and love which is put into their products. This is the reason why he is now undertaking a project that will allow the client to access their workshop completely and see how the craftsmen work. They use new technologies so the clients can follow the production of their custom order. A complete experience is created for the customer, sending videos and photos via WhatsApp of the process.
Definitely consider Enrile products!
When looking for high-quality shoes, watch straps or other leather products on the market you should definitely consider Enrile products. Have a look at their Instagram account, at their webpage or directly visit them in their workshops in the beautiful Spanish city Sevilla. Antonio is a very open-minded, friendly and passionate person who feels a pioneer in this world of craftsmanship, respected by his craft peers. Each new day is a challenge. He needs to constantly use creativity to reach new customers, design new products, develop new projects and improve or create new making techniques. For him, everything is to be done, discovered, improved.
Antonio, thanks a lot again for all those interesting and exciting insights into Enrile! 😊
Picture courtesy: Enrile