The History of Almansa
Almansa, part of the larger Castile-La Mancha region of Spain, is the birthplace and home to Mezlan. Its 14th century Castle of Almansa sits stoically atop the town’s high cliff, laying watch over its citizens. The hustle bustle of shoemakers working and living in the town below give testimony to its artisanal roots and rich history. Embracing the hallowed traditions of skilled shoemakers which span back for generations, Mezlan stands today as a specialty factory, a design house in leather, and a heritage-brand rooted in authentic surroundings of the past and present. This is Spain’s shoemaking capital.
Antonio Sanchez, Mezlan’s owner, designer, and president, grew up in a farming family in Almansa, Spain. Almansa, part of the greater region of Castile-La Mancha, has an arid but fertile environment which produces many varieties of red wine grapes, grains, and vegetable crops. Farming and raising livestock are important economic activities in the region but are restricted due to harsh environmental conditions. Antonio had tasted of this life but realized that there was another path for him to take.
Once arriving in the U.S. in January 1985, Antonio would adopt a touring schedule that would put him on the road 260 days a year visiting accounts and introducing the Mezlan brand to premier department stores like Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom as well as the finest independently-owned men’s clothing and shoe boutiques. Antonio was, himself, the sole North American sales force in these first years. But along the way Antonio met an American girl named Catherine. The two fell in love and would go on to become partners in life as well as partners in business, melding their creative talents.
Artistry & Tradition
As the Mezlan factory continues to evolve and expand, so do the levels of skill and sophistication required in its footwear production. Antonio maintains the status of master- shoemaker, a great honor. He is a revered chef in his own kitchen, slow-cooking without short-cuts. When he says that no less than 100 pairs of hands touch each pair of Mezlan shoes through its production, it is often many more than that. Each style is adorned with its own personality using creativity, balance, honed-skill and passion. This is the product which Antonio and the Mezlan factory bring to their customers. This is their legacy.
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