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Harry’s Guide to Henderson

Everything you might not know about the Italian luxury footwear brand, from its historical influence to its handcraftsmanship and familial roots.

By: Ellen HeDate: 2024-06-24

When you think of the perfect Italian shoe, the mind likely has (or will now have) a short circuit for Henderson. The brand’s integrity to its handcraftsmanship of generations past is certainly one reason why it's a no-brainer for quality footwear.

What you may not know, however, is that its legacy of craft is also a history of family. It all goes back to 1932, when Giuseppe Baracco started a small workshop in Venice, Italy, with four artisans making two pairs of shoes per day. Made entirely by hand with precise techniques and first-rate materials, the shoes gained recognition in the whole North of Italy by 1955. At the same time, Giuseppe’s nephew Gino, started contributing to key decisions such as materials for uppers and the like. By 1962, four shoemakers became fifteen in a newly built workshop in Brenta Riviera. These years marked the beginning formations of a footwear culture, with the “Baracco” business, as it was known back then, leading the development of the shoe-making district that still lives and breathes in Northern Italy today.

While establishing themselves in Italy, it was Gino and his uncle’s wife who were unafraid in 1965 to expand into German and Austrian markets. By the time it reached the 1980s, “Baracco” was on track to its destiny as a household name throughout all of Europe.

Gino’s sons, Gianluigi and Enrico, now continue to carry the torch forward all across the globe, in its third generation of the family. The two brothers also updated the brand to “Henderson Baracco,” to preserve another important name associated with the family’s business and success. But it’s not the only thing they preserved, one of them saying, “We have people who have been working with us for a lifetime. I grew up with them. I believe they are the true asset of this company because handmade steps are indeed numerous.”

These examples of preservation lend to how Henderson has consistently claimed its bedrock: the traditional mixed with the modern. They have always strived to be “very firm and very respectful in construction techniques and in the choice of materials,” and thus, have never operated out-of-house. This is so that their hand-made traditions or ‘shoe-making wisdom,’ ensure no erosion of quality and longevity. By the same token, they’ve made sure to evolve, never disappointing in the zeitgeist. As they’ve put it, they “wander a bit on lines and the proposal of the forms for [someone] who is always looking for quality but is careful to wear a contemporary and fresh item.”

On the ground, it means you can often find their signature supple deerskin or ultra-durable rubber soles among their constructions (the traditional). But then they’ll add in details that shift with the times, for a classic look that’s still progressive.

Spanning loafers, lace-ups, sneakers, and trainers, you can explore the collection to find the “perfect Italian shoe” for casual, smart, or formal ensembles. Many of the styles are versatile too, so you can dress them down with denim or dress them up with say, a pleated trouser and button-up. Either way, owning a Henderson Baracco shoe is one of the ways you can still enjoy the robustness of ancient art, craft, and care. It certainly knew how to influence the Italian shoe-making industry, and it certainly knows how to elevate a wardrobe even now.

Collection Highlights

henderson white sneaker

Grain Leather Byron Sneaker

Meet Henderson’s most iconic low-top sneaker. Its deerskin upper gives more movement in a luxurious, buttery feel. It also features their new exclusive ultralight sole: a perforated lining for breathability, and an extra removable fusbett with a foamy base for added comfort. Versatile with chinos for laid-back occasions, or dress pants for more formal events.

pebbled deerskin leather loafer on beige background

Panarea Pebbled Deerskin Leather Loafer

One of Henderson’s most sought after slip-ons, this loafer features a deerskin upper that lends itself to a rustic sensibility. Stitched with a leather lining and natural jute midsole, it’s the perfect, elevated style for off-duty days. And pairs great with denim, if we do say so ourselves.

suede henderson loafer on cream background

Panarea Vintage Suede Loafer

Henderson’s other esteemed loafer is characterized by its suede upper. Also made with a leather lining and natural jute midsole, it’s a ‘how-could-you-not’ style to add to your rotation of slip-ons. Team them with a smart pair of denim or khakis for classic to casual attires

TAGS:#Fashion,#Brand Spotlight,#Henderson,