What do Prince Charles, actor Tommy Lee Jones and polo star Adolfo Cambiaso have in common? Their boots, it seems; specifically their polo boots from Casa Fagliano, a Buenos Aires atelier established by Italians Pedro and Giacomina Fagliano in 1892. Such illustrious customers are drawn to the family-run boutique in Hurlingham in search of famously supple boots with an unparalleled attention to detail.
Today this successful business is helmed by 88-year-old patriarch Rodolfo Fagliano (right in first picture), who still prepares patterns and cuts leather. “He can’t stop working,” says Germán (middle in first picture), his first grandson in the five-strong Fagliano team that spans three generations. Rodolfo, Eduardo (left in first picture), Héctor, Germán and Lucas all work side by side in the bustling workshop at the back of the store, each performing a particular task – selecting the finest cordovan, calfskin and buffalo leathers; preparing soles and measuring wooden lasts; layering and honing heels; or hand-polishing the finished product.
The store’s shelves are lined with boots in varying heights, from ankle (from $700) to Texan polo boots ($2,600), a style adopted from the American Southwest that allows for an easier, more generous fit. The most popular offering, however, is the bespoke English-style polo boot (from $3,000), which often has waiting lists of six to eight months. Each pair – whether custom-made ($2,600) or ready-to-wear – is handcrafted on a Durkopp sewing machine from the 1920s. “It still works beautifully because we aren’t trying to mass-produce,” says Germán. “We focus on one customer at a time.” A pair of boots can take up to 48 man hours to make.
“We work hard to protect customers’ legs,” says Eduardo, “although comfort is also important as the rider is standing up in the stirrups for long periods of time. These boots can’t be tight like those worn for dressage or jumping.” A custom order begins with measurements and the selection of leather, in hues ranging from tan to chocolate to dark coffee. “Bright colours are not usually an option,” says Germán, “although we made an exception for Spanish player Pascual Sainz de Vicuña, whose boots were in a reddish cordovan.” The finishing flourishes include brass nails in the heels, specially made for the Faglianos in a nearby workshop, while embroidered logos and contrasting thread colours – red with black leather, for example – are additional options.
And it’s not just boots; the exquisite leatherwork extends to belts in calfskin ($650) and cordovan ($1,000) with buckles by Argentine silversmith Draghi; as well as watch straps ($500) for Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Grande Reverso Ultra Thin Tribute to 1931 watch. Even the boot trees ($2,200) incorporate the finest materials and showcase the unique nature of the Fagliano brand. “We believe that great things take time to be created,” says Germán. “The excellence is achieved through generations and we all learn from our fathers. After more than 120 years of experience, everything is just getting better with time.”