Mikhail Bliskavka

As cliché as it sounds, I recently found myself turning into a bit of a Renaissance man. After serving in the U.S. Coast Guard and then the Air Force as a reservist, I went to school for electrical engineering. During my studies, I stumbled into the world of crafted, handmade shoes through the Goodyearwelt subreddit. What drew me in was the styling and the look, what kept me interested is the craftsmanship and the built to last mentality. In our disposable world, here is something that's meant to last, get better with age, show your story with every scuff and patina. Once it wears out, you can take it to a cobbler and get it refurbished with a new sole, just like in the old days! After being a collector for a while, I met Chuck, the owner of Tulsa Shoe Rebuilders. Towards the end of my studies, I ended up hanging out at his shop a lot during downtime, and ended up making a pair of chukka boots with his coaching. Having a tangible result of my effort, something functional and beautiful made by my own hands was an exhilarating experience.  I was hooked – so much so that I enrolled in the shoemaking course at Stefano Bemer in Florence, Italy a few months later. The shoemaking school was probably the best time of my life thus far. It feels like a dream sometimes, living in the heart of Florence’s old town, with centuries of culture and history around you. I lived and breathed shoes during my time there, all of us were so passionate about the craft, we would spend all day making shoes then go out and spend all evening together talking about shoes. I learned techniques that have been in use for hundreds of years, making shoes entirely by hand using natural materials and doing it with the best group of people I could have ever hoped for. The only way you can learn this is through constant practice and a drive for continuous improvement. The end result is a pair of shoes that will last a lifetime, something that will evolve with age, accumulating memories along with a beautiful patina.  It's humbling to carry on that legacy, and try to pass on some of it to others which is how my blog started and my instagram transformed. That is the drive behind ARNO. We want to bring this craft, quality, and a unique blend of European styling with American sensibility to fashion.