We’re all in search of stylish and well-fitted shoes. Many of us will go to great lengths to get them, even if it means having them made to fit our exact specifications with the help of a custom shoemaker. And yet, a great custom (or made-to-order) shoemaker can be hard to find, given that so much of the shoe business is fast fashion and mass-produced.
So, I’ve done the work for you. I’m here to share with you some shoe brands that pledge handmade techniques and custom options, for the most personalized footwear.
For a list of those who make the best custom, or made-to-order, shoes for women, read on.
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, hence the focus on sneakers. Those experiences also lent an understanding of 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.
Girotti offers an online custom shoe-making service for men and women. In it, customers may specify their desired style, size, color, material and outsole height.
To find the best fit, the brand offers a size guide with tips on how to measure your foot, and for further personalization, customers can add monograms or inscriptions to their prospective shoes.
While most custom shoe manufacturers don’t entertain return requests, Girotti offers the opportunity to exchange if its customer isn’t happy with a purchase, though some stipulations apply. For example, if Girotti’s shoes don’t fit, they’re eligible for exchange so long as they’re unworn. The brand only offers a full refund if the item is somehow faulty upon receipt, or if the item proves defective within 30 days of wear.
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, as well as 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 shoes.
For the most part, By Request 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.
For the perfect pair of high heels, Malone Souliers has a program worth considering. Like Crockett & Jones, this designer, who crafts its footwear in Italy, offers a quintessential custom shoe consultation at its London showroom, complete with an in-person fitting for the styles in which the client is most interested, as well as a color and material selection.
As with many brands that work with craftsmen overseas, Malone Souliers tells its clients that the shoe-making process will yield a lead time of 8 weeks.
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 shoes 8 to 12 weeks from the order date.
Nike By You, the sportswear giant’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; there’s also an option to add a personal message inside of the tongue or the backtab and to change the swoosh style.
If you’re someone who generally has trouble fitting into knee-length boots, Poppy Barley is a brand you may want to check out. The label is well-known for its custom boots that take your calf width, foot width and desired boot height into account—a level a detail that one usually only finds in bespoke shoemaking services.
Rancourt & Co.
Rancourt & Co. is family-owned, based in Maine and a proud producer of handmade custom 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 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 custom shoes.
Ready to order your custom 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, or custom, 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 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.