We’re all in search of stylish, well-fitted and all-around suitable shoes, aren’t we?
As a footwear industry insider, it’s easy to see the high value in a well-made pair of shoes, especially in a pair that can be customized to meet the wearer’s exact needs and reflect his aesthetic preferences, from fit to finish, patina and even monogramming.
In custom shoe-making, consumers are involved in the design process that will ultimately result in their perfect shoes. That said, the best custom shoes (a phrase that’s often used synonymously with “made-to-order shoes”) are those that accurately take the customer into account while offering the best craftsmanship and experience from the swatch selection to the streets.
So, who makes the best custom shoes for men? The very best option for you will be based on your preferences—that’s why I’ve compiled a condensed list of designers and shoe brands to address a range of consumers.
If you’re searching for bespoke-quality footwear (and you’re content with paying comparable prices), Berluti could very well be where you’ll find your perfect pair of custom shoes. The century-old Parisian shoe company uses calf and alligator leather for all of its dress shoe styles and helps its customers achieve the polished and sophisticated look on which it’s built its reputation.
Personalization is easy with this designer, being that it has been offering patinas and tattooing on most of its products for years. For soling, Berluti often uses a Goodyear welt, or a layer of material sewn to the bottom of the shoe that allows for resoling after much wear.
Crockett & Jones
Crockett & Jones’ special order service allows for the customization of many men’s shoe and boot styles. According to the designer’s website, each store keeps its own extensive catalog of swatches in leather and suede. Once the customer and brand representative have worked together to solidify the details for the order, the information is sent to the factory in Northampton, England. Like most custom shoe services, Crockett & Jones offers an 8- to 10-week lead time.
Handmade shoemaker Edward Green draws on the brand’s century of experience to create unique shoes for his customers. He invites them to select from patterns, styles, fine leathers and other details for shoes and belts. Also based in Northampton, Green caps production at approximately 350 pairs of shoes per week to ensure the best quality.
George Cleverley 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 label’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.
John Lobb’s shoes and boots can be customized through the brand’s By Request service. The famed English shoemaker offers its clients over 100 original designs across a range of shoe styles, from oxford to derby to loafer, with so many full-grain leather and suedes, buckle colors and soles to choose from. There’s also an option for clients to monogram their prospective shoes.
For the most part, By Request orders are taken in person; only the brand’s Lopez and City II styles can be ordered custom online.
Nike By You, the sportswear giant’s custom service, offers a wide range of 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 to the backtab and to change the swoosh style (you can choose from some pre-designed styles).
Ferragamo is a heritage brand with roots in traditional Italian shoe-making. It offers everything from handmade shoes (both off-the-rack and custom), handbags, accessories and ready-to-wear apparel. The products are made with high-quality leather, fabric and synthetic materials.
While most of the business doesn’t revolve around custom footwear—the Tramezza line is the only one capable of customizing—you can’t go wrong with a pair if you’re looking for high quality and a classic Italian aesthetic.
Ready to order a pair of customized 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 custom shoe and accessory service, send us a message through this link. We’re here to give you peace of mind and help you find the best custom 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.