Buttero is one of those brands that flies under the radar and yet always seems to draw universal praise by those who own the products, including myself. I've been really happy with the Tanino sneakers I picked up last year, for instance, in that they deliver quality leather in an attractive design, solid build, and sense of soul that is often missing in other options around the same price point. So I'm a little surprised, year after year, when I see Butteros fall to shockingly low prices around the net. I picked up this pair, the B101 "lace up boots," the other day on Yoox for $103 shipped (!), and wanted to share them with you to highlight the sort of thing that can happen when you search a little deeper than the average guy is willing to before settling on a pair of Cole Haans for twice the price and a fraction of the quality.
Design, Materials, and Construction
Let's talk about the leather first, as it's probably the most interesting and polarizing aspect here. Unfortunately there isn't a lot of available information on these boots because, as far as I can tell, the B101 model was discontinued many years ago and may never have been sold in the US at all -at least not since 2013 when the Internet Archive started cataloguing Buttero's site. From what I've been able to gather (mostly from translated Japanese sites), the leather used on the uppers is described as "Guidi vachetta," a vegetable tanned leather from the renowned Guidi & Rosellini tannery in Pescia, Tuscany.
Buttero has collaborated with Guidi before, an Italian tannery dating back to 1896 that's known for producing leather with a lived-in and weathered feel (they also now make their own footwear with that same vibe), and the rugged character of the leather used on these boots seems to fit the Guidi mold well. While the boots are described as "nero" (black), the model number listed on the box is followed by "PE-TORR" to designate the leather type. When you search "PE-TORR" around the web in different combinations ("Buttero PE-TORR," "PE-TORR," etc.), you end up on a few sites that generally describe a nubuck treated with oil and some type of powder. The nubuck part is straightforward enough and was a welcome surprise, as I initially thought they were made from suede. Nubuck differs in that it utilizes the grain side of calfskin, which has been sanded or buffed down to give the leather surface a short nap vs. suede, where the flesh side of the hide is the surface. Of the two, nubuck is generally considered more durable as it comes from the natural exterior of the hide, and it's likewise usually more expensive.
archived Buttero page from a few years ago described as being treated with talcum, a powder that traditionally functions to absorb moisture. I've also encountered Japanese sites that call it "wax powder," and Korean sites have described the same PE-TORR models in a couple Instagram-type shots as "sandy," for what it's worth. Gun to my head, I'd guess the talcum noted on Buttero's site is the accurate one, and it's not a material I've encountered in footwear before. More importantly, in hand the leather is quite supple and doesn't quite have the off-putting intense color contrast that a few product pictures seemed like they had before I bought them, though the powder does have a tendency to catch the light and reflect it. The boots are also a bit darker in shade than a lot of the internet pics out there (as I had hoped), with a base of charcoal grey that lightens up a little around the most typical points of wear.
Moving on to the design, the boots are built in a plain toed, 5-eyelet open lacing format with a fairly long shaft. They're definitely a good few inches taller than the average men's boot, and the lacing only travels up the shaft for a portion of its length. The form of the last is long and narrow, and the toe box is low and sleek with a slightly chiseled toe, though I'll mention that it seems to be more squared (in a bad way) in pictures of larger sizes. Nevertheless, these certainly fit into a different genre than your common chunky workwear boots, and probably closer to a service boot.
|Ignore the slight scuffs on the toe - had happy feet the first couple times wearing them|
Fit, Sizing, and Style
I wear an 8D in most US lasted shoes and a 40 in Buttero Taninos. Buttero footwear runs notoriously large for its sizing, and I've read in multiple places that the boots are even more so. Truthfully, I would have taken a shot at a 39.5 based on what I was reading around the net, but only the 40 was available so I gave it a shot. To my surprise, they actually fit quite well, though I'd be hesitant to apply this sizing recommendation acrossthe board to Butteros as I've seen there's some variation from model to model. The last is on the longer side as I mentioned above, and I could imagine it looking a little clownish on bigger feet, which would not be too flattering unless you were a clown.
On my dainty feet, though, they cut a well-proportioned but slim profile, pairing well with slim (or skinny) jeans or pants often tucked in, where the high shaft height allows them to stay that way. Lately, I've been enjoying them with a monotone grey/black palette and a shearling bomber.
Say what you will about slim or skinny proportions being on their way out, but to me what looks good yesterday looks good today and tomorrow as long as the design is fairly classic and isn't chasing trends to an extreme degree. So despite the tide slowly turning the past year or two (a change that I generally welcome), I would still argue these still look just fine sticking to a slim silhouette throughout.
Summary and Recommendations
To be fair, items you see on heavy discount are often the more polarizing and niche designs a designer puts out, and I've always found that the clearer a line is drawn in the sand, the more people tend to stand completely on one side of it or another. These boots likely fall within the realm of that sensibility, and that's okay. To their credit, I've noticed that Buttero doesn't sit comfortably in safe territory season-to-season and just make a few versions of their best sellers over and over. But speaking strictly to versatility, I wouldn't put these boots as my first or second suggestion for someone who doesn't own any boots unless your style is very specific to begin with.
In regards to the price, clearly a hundred bucks is silly low (Buttero retails for $500-700 in Japan, for instance), and the point of this post was never for you to go out and buy these exact boots - because you can't. But I'd have to say that finding good value online doesn't just happen - it's born of a combination of lots of research (and yes, I regularly do stuff like translate Asian sites and look through the Internet Archive for information), a willingness to sift through the proverbial haystack for the needle, knowing what brands tend to offer higher value for their price, and being in the right place at the right time. A large part of being in the right place at the right time is searching often and keeping track of interesting websites and interesting products. Some guys don't want to do that, and I don't blame them in the slightest. If this sort of activity isn't enjoyable to you, you might as well be filling out paperwork or doing your taxes. But for others, it's almost a relaxing ritual to see what's new at Barneys Warehouse, or Grailed, or even Yoox - the Mount Everest of haystacks. And every once in a while you get rewarded.
That being said, keep your eye on Buttero.
ProsHigh quality to price ratio on sale
Interesting leather treatment, beautiful nubuck
ConsPrefer Goodyear Welt
Not an extremely versatile boot
Leather treatment and color bound to be polarizing
Proportions may seem off in larger sizes
Where to buy (or keep track of):
No Man Walks Alone