There are some stories that take time to tell. In the case of Cartujano Espana, 140 years to be exact. Since 1877, four generations of the Fluxá family have been crafting some of the finest leather goods in the world, ever since founder Antonio learned traditional English shoemaking techniques and assembled a group of artisans to found the first shoe factory in Spain. Today, after four generations in the family and currently under the direction of Lorenzo Fluxá, the operation has grown exponentially to produce some of the finest bags and mens’ and women’s shoes in the world.
Spanish heritage runs deep for Cartujano Espana, tapping into the country’s rich traditions of leather working. The brand’s name itself comes from the Cartujano horse, one of the oldest breeds of pure Spanish lineage, and embraces both the horse’s free spirit and the country’s rich heritage of saddlemaking and other leatherwork. We recently spoke with Fluxá about how these traditions are reflected in the modern shoes and bags the company produces today and about the decision to relaunch the brand after it took a hiatus in the 1990s.
The Window: Can you tell us a bit about the decision to relaunch the brand in 2015? Why was the timing right?
Lorenzo Fluxá: In the last ten years, there has been a huge growth in the luxury market. Our family is one of the few remaining that has been making high-quality shoes for more than a century, so we felt that there was an opportunity to relaunch the Cartujano brand at the highest level.
How did the Cartujano, the Spanish horse, come to symbolize the brand?
The Cartujano horse is majestic and elegant. The Carthusian monks in Jerez have bred them since the 15th century, and the breed represents the purest of Spanish horses. Similarly, the Cartujano brand is also the finest of its breed, offering the finest quality leather goods made anywhere in Spain.
With that Made in Spain ethos in mind, can you tell us a bit about where your products are made?
Spain has a well-known reputation for crafting leather goods, a tradition that has been passed from generation to generation for centuries, so today, many luxury brands produce their leather goods here. Spain has the best factories and workshops, like the ones where we produce our collections. Majorca, where we produce our men’s footwear, is well known for Goodyear welted shoes; we make our women’s footwear in Elda, where the experts in the craft are the most refined; and Ubrique is a very special village in the south of Spain, where the production is specialized in bags and small leather goods. Roman and Arab settlers even started tanneries in Ubrique to make the most of the water, chalk, and cork that are abundant there. It’s an honor for us to work together with all the best craftsmen in our country.
Many of your factory’s machines used in the creation of footwear are more than 100 years old. Can you tell us about this focus on traditional techniques and methods? It can’t be easy to find people who are able to operate those kinds of machines!
That’s mostly in Inca, Majorca, where we produce the Goodyear welted shoes. My great-grandfather emigrated to England around 1870 and worked in a shoe factory in the Northampton area. With the money he saved, he bought machinery, came back, and built the first shoe factory in Spain—here in Inca. Some of those old machines are still used today, like the one we use to mold leather outsoles. The people managing these old machines have a long experience making shoes, many of them honing their craft since they finish school when they were 16 or 17 years old.
Ultimately, the focus seems to be on quality, both of the raw materials and of the techniques used in the craftsmanship. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
We use the best leathers in the world to manufacture our products. We source only from a small selection of tanneries in Europe and the USA, where we buy our cordovan leather from the specialty tanners at Horween. They use the same traditional techniques they’ve used for over 100 years—different methods that require time and careful application in order to achieve the perfect result. On arrival at our workshops, each hide is meticulously reviewed to ensure it exceeds the quality control expected by our cortadors, the craftsmen who cut the leathers.
As the collection continues to grow and evolve, what can we look forward to in the future from Cartujano?
We are not an edgy fashion brand, and that’s why our collections grow and evolve slowly. Our obsession has to do more with quality, durability, and authenticity. In the future, you will continue to find collections with a strong identity and products crafted with premium leathers and materials. We believe that our products are precious objects, timeless pieces that have been a result of assembling together many different processes and materials. Products that can only be made by craftsmen who are passionate about their profession.