We’re all in search of stylish, well-fitted and all-around suitable shoes, and many of us will go to great lengths to get them. A great custom shoemaker can certainly be hard to find here in the U.S., where so much of today’s fashion is fast fashion and mass-produced.
While that’s slowly changing, custom creators are much harder to come by than they are in, say, Europe, where the practice of making items from scratch and specifically for the wearer has been nurtured for decades upon decades. And it’s for those who already see the value in a great pair of custom (a.k.a. made-to-order) shoes that I felt the need to create this list.
Due to a lack of transparency from brands, it’s difficult to create a definitive list of companies that produce made-to-order footwear wholly in the United States. Rather, I can share with you some American shoe brands that produce custom footwear, as well as brands who are more transparent about their production processes and bill that their products are made in America.
For a list of the best made-to-order shoemakers in the United States, read on.
Alden Shoe was founded in New England in the late 1880s and has continued to produce handmade made-to-order dress shoes and boots that rival those of Salvatore Ferragamo. Some features of Alden shoes include a Goodyear welt construction, which makes for a super durable pair of shoes, a genuine cordovan leather exterior, a classic patina, a leather lining and a tempered steel shank to provide extra support and shape.
Allen Edmonds has been handcrafting shoes in Wisconsin since 1922, and in an attempt to marry tradition with technology, invites its customers to design a pair of classic, custom shoes or boots via its website. Once users have chosen a style, the design process generally involves selecting an upper from several leather or suede options, a sole from many color options, a size (up to 16) and a width (from narrow, or a 4A grade, to EEE, which accommodates very wide feet).
The brand says its shoes are completely weatherproof, thanks to their use of special water-resistant leather and a proprietary welt that keeps the sole and the upper securely fastened. For its custom shoe orders, Allen Edmonds asks that customers allow roughly eight weeks for delivery.
COMUNITYmade values high-quality footwear, charitable contributions and transparency regarding the production of its shoes, which takes place in the heart of Los Angeles. The founders come from the umbrellas of sneaker giants like Nike and Asics, so they understand how to create quality footwear, and they feel passionate about giving back, which is why the company offers up to a 20 percent donation with every purchase to a charity of the buyer’s choice.
To explore their custom shoe offerings, it’s best to book an in-person or virtual appointment.
To learn more about how to order a pair of made-to-order shoes, click here.
Looking for the perfect ballerina flat? Margaux will 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.
Margaux 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 the Demi style, clients are welcome to design them with hand-painted details; Margaux currently offers five monogram styles and a daisy floral for that model.
In terms of lead time, Margaux says customers can expect to receive their made-to-order shoes 8 to 12 weeks from the order date.
Nike By You, the sportswear brand’s custom service, offers a wide range of styles for men, women and unisex styles (think Nike Air Force 1 and Nike Air Max) prime for personalization. The program allows for dozens of colorways or material combinations on any offered pair of shoes; it also offers the option to add a personal message inside of the tongue or the backtab and to change the swoosh style (you can choose from some pre-designed styles).
It’s common knowledge that the sneaker giant doesn’t produce most of its shoes in the United States, but because it’s an American brand, I felt that it was appropriate to include it in this list. Much of Nike’s production takes place in Vietnam, according to a Quartz reported in 2018.
Rancourt & Co.
Rancourt & Co. is family-owned, based in Maine and a proud producer of handmade made-to-order footwear. Its signature style is a moccasin with a Blake Welt construction, which allows for more flexibility. For those with very narrow or wide feet, this brand will make a moccasin, chukka or boot to fit your needs.
In terms of lead time, Rancourt & Co. says you should expect to wait approximately four weeks from your order date for your made-to-order shoes.
Ready to order your made-to-order shoes?
As always, these are just guidelines for purchasing customized 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 made-to-order 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 made-to-order 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.