In today’s age, technology rules. That means machines are working as quickly as ever, so goods can be produced in a snap and everything we want is at our fingertips. Well, not everything in the world, but a lot of things. And that’s appealing enough to some people.
For things like paperback books, pens and Tupperware that we cycle through quickly, it’s appealing to me as well. But for other things that are particularly precious to me, I can appreciate that the best things take time. As a shoemaker, one of these things is naturally footwear; I want my shoes to be made carefully by experienced craftsmen. Handmade shoes are luxury, and our feet, which hold us up all day long, deserve luxury!
I imagine this is especially true for women, who often must navigate their routines in heels. For that reason, I’ve compiled a list of as many footwear brands as I could think of who make great handmade shoes for women.
For my list of designers who make the best handmade shoes for women, read on.
Ancient Greek Sandals
Ancient Greek Sandals is the brainchild of Christina Martini and Nikolas Minoglou, two talented Greek footwear designers inspired by their classical heritage. Their footwear, a collection of flat leather sandals, looks and feels luxe, to be sure. That’s because it’s all handmade by craftsmen knowledgeable of classical, time-honored techniques.
Crockett & Jones
Using traditional cobbling techniques in its English factories, Crockett & Jones makes understatedly elegant footwear for women that’s built to last. The brand, which was first established in 1879, almost exclusively employs a Goodyear welt construction, a design that requires much attention from skilled craftsmen but yields pretty incredible results. Benefits of the Goodyear welt include greater durability and easy resoling—pillars of quality shoe-making.
American brand FEITⓇ offers handmade unisex shoes with unique details for understated sophistication. Its Hand Sewn Low and High Rubber models are great dress sneaker options; a departure from the thick gum sole look, FEIT makes them with high-quality leather that is hand-stitched to a thin rubber sole for a seamless leather look. Other offerings include leather slippers, boots and clogs.
Since 1866, British designer Grenson has been a top purveyor of hardy leather shoes, because it uses traditional shoe-making techniques to ensure great quality and fit. Its ‘Nanette’ hiking boots have been favored by the likes of Hailey Bieber and Jodie Comer, while the ‘Alexandra’ boot is pretty unique for its seaming and lightweight soles.
Girotti offers handmade shoes exclusively through an online platform best for convenience, and it pledges great quality and selection, particularly through its made-to-order, or custom, service. The aforementioned service allows customers to specify their style, color, material, heel type, and heel height; it also offers the option to add monograms or inscriptions to shoes.
John Lobb has been handcrafting shoes for nearly two centuries, and in that time, it’s become one of the most prominent handmade shoemakers in the world. The brand offers a more limited selection of styles to its female clients, but the styles are solid and can be customized with a slew of full-grain leather and suedes, buckle colors and soles to choose from. There’s also an option for clients to monogram their prospective John Lobb shoes.
For the most part, custom orders are taken in person; only the brand’s Lopez and City II styles, which are traditionally men’s styles, can be ordered custom online.
Looking for a certain ballerina flat? Margaux will hand make it. The brand, which set out to make a “wear-everywhere” shoe in 2015, crafts its footwear using Italian leather in factories located in New York and Spain.
The brand prioritizes comfort, which is why it offers private appointments with fit specialists, but from a design perspective, the materials are limited to the options shown for a specific style online. For its ‘Demi’ style, clients are welcome to design them with hand-painted details; Margaux currently offers five monogram styles and a floral print for that model.
Ready to purchase a pair of handmade shoes?
Remember, makers employ traditional shoe-making techniques because they’re known to ensure longevity—that’s the true value proposition of a handmade pair of shoes.
With over 20 years in the fashion industry, Esquivel Shoes takes pride in being a valuable resource for shoppers. To learn more about our own handmade shoe collection or any other products we offer, send us a message through this link. We’re here to give you peace of mind and help you find the best handmade shoes for you.
George is a Southern California-based designer and craftsman who designed his first pair of shoes in 1994 and began honing his craft thereafter. For over 20 years, he’s operated his namesake brand, Esquivel, which specializes in handmade shoes and accessories. In the last decade, George served as Creative Director of renowned luxury bag and luggage brand Tumi Inc. and as Creative Consultant for Italian heritage brand Fratelli Rossetti, and has collaborated with many others for his own brand. George was a 2009 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist, and has been a CFDA member since 2010. When he’s not working alongside his team of artisans at his atelier, Esquivel House, in Downtown Los Angeles, George is enjoying time with his wife and high school sweetheart, Shelley, and their three grown children. He also loves mountain biking and hosting good friends for dinners and fêtes.