Bespoke shoes are the ultimate footwear indulgence — the service allows you to commission a pair of shoes designed to your foot specifications and aesthetic preferences. And though you may have heard the term in mainstream fashion dialogues nearly a decade ago, with Nike iD’s introduction of Nike Air Force 1 Bespoke, bespoke shoes, particularly for men, is a centuries-old concept.
To learn who makes the best bespoke shoes for men, read on.
Bespoke shoes are the heart of Berluti’s business, given its century and a half of experience making them with some 250 operations and 50 hours of labor. For bespoke footwear, this estimate of time and skill is standard. What makes Berluti truly special is its attention to the client’s needs and to the craftsmanship of its dress shoes. During the process, the label’s master shoemaker listens to the client’s wishes and learns his habits and tastes, before sharing his own expertise to discuss and suggest the best design. Every detail accounted for, from the last shape to the roominess of the fit, the sole thickness, the lining color, the patina, and the tattooing.
Edward Green draws on a century of shoe-making history, wherein the shoe brand refined its bespoke experience. Its process encourages a dialogue between the maker and the consumer from start to finish, with Edward Green customers choosing from a range of patterns, lasts, leathers and details for a shoe that fits their style as closely as it will their feet. Based on its website, Edward Green’s process for bespoke shoemaking is somewhat unclear. Yet, one thing is for sure: Every custom order starts with a conversation, including questions like “What is it that you want from your shoe?” “How do you like to dress?” And “what do you want to pair your shoes with?”
The George Cleverley company has been crafting shoes in England since 1958 when the man who bears the company’s name founded the business. Cleverley died in 1991, but he chose longtime friends John Carnera and George Glasglow to helm the business and maintain the top quality and standards for years to come. According to the brand’s website, all Cleverley shoemakers go through a three- to five-year apprenticeship to ensure the style and quality are consistent with the designer’s high standards. Impressive, no? Such standards secured Cleverley a roster of famous customers through the years, including Sir Elton John, Clark Gable, Sylvester Stallone, Alexander Rodriguez and Ralph Lauren.
From a technical perspective, the company breaks its bespoke process into five stages: measuring and last making, pattern cutting, closing, making, and finishing. Closing involves stitching various pattern pieces together, while making involves shaping the shoe with elements like toe and heel stiffeners.
John Lobb began making bespoke boots and shoes over 150 years ago in England. Despite the company’s global reach today, it managed to stick to its roots by offering bespoke shoe services in addition to off-the-rack and made-to-order footwear. The process for a pair of bespoke shoes would go something like this, according to the company’s website:
At the first of several appointments, the last maker takes a number of detailed measurements from the client’s foot. Using these precise measurements, the contour of the foot is sculpted by hand in hornbeam wood, forming the last upon which the chosen leather upper of the client’s bespoke shoes or boots will take shape. A trial shoe is created, so the client can get a sense of how the shoe will look and have an opportunity to revise any aesthetic preferences, like the heel height or the shape of the toe. While wearing the trial shoe, final measurements are taken, as well as incisions to examine the shoe for even the slightest pressure points to the foot. The result is a pair of shoes or boots that mold to your foot.
You’re ready to order your pair of bespoke shoes
Be sure to note, these are just guidelines for acquiring bespoke shoes. With over 20 years in the fashion industry, Esquivel Shoes takes pride in being a quality resource for shoppers. To learn more about bespoke shoes, made-to-order shoes or any of the products we offer, send us a message through this link. We’re here to give you peace of mind and help you make the best buying decisions 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.