In a market replete with every kind of shoe style and quality you can imagine, brands are vying for consumers’ attention. Makers are constantly considering what their bases will want and need from footwear in the seasons to come.
Having spent more than 20 years in this business, I’ve found that one thing consumers will always appreciate is a well-made pair of shoes. And the way I, and some other small brands like mine, have delivered that high-quality product is by employing handmade methods to make shoes.
For men in particular, handmade shoes from leather can be a real asset. Leather is comfortable and durable, and the best handmade methods will ensure sturdiness, which is essential because we tend to be extra rough on our shoes. Below, I’ve detailed some shoe brands with the best selection of handmade leather shoes for men.
talian shoemaker Antonio Meccariello comes from a bloodline of bespoke shoemakers, starting with his grandfather. Following in the footsteps of his grandfather and his parents, who ran a small factory that produced uppers for designers around Europe, Meccariello studied shoe-making and went on to establish his workshop for bespoke shoes. He makes his shoes from scratch; they’re handmade and hand-welted for a super sturdy construction.
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 handmade leather 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, and for soling, Berluti often uses a Goodyear welt, or a layer of material sewn to the bottom of the shoe that allows for resoling later on.
Crockett & Jones
Using traditional cobbling techniques in its English factories, Crockett & Jones makes dapper footwear that’s built to last. The footwear 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.
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 handmade shoes and belts. Based in Northampton, England, where the company was founded, Green caps production at approximately 350 pairs of shoes per week to ensure the best quality.
New York City-based 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.
George Cleverley has been handcrafting 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 earned Cleverley a roster of famous customers through the years, including Sir Elton John, Clark Gable, Fred Astaire, Humphrey Bogart, Sylvester Stallone, Alexander Rodriguez, Hugh Grant and Ralph Lauren.
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. Their shoes are carefully assembled, Goodyear-welted and polished to perfection in England and factories overseas, the brand’s website says so that some customers can attain Grenson shoes for a lesser price.
To many in the industry, John Lobb is the king of English shoemaking, having 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 its clients over 100 original designs across a range of shoe styles, from oxford to derby to loafer, with many full-grain leather and suedes, buckle colors and soles to choose from. There’s also an option for clients to monogram their prospective handmade shoes.
Ready to purchase a pair of handmade leather shoes?
The best handmade shoes and boots are made with excellent craftsmanship and attention to detail executed over days and weeks, rather than in a matter of minutes on an assembly line of automated machinery, as is the case for off-the-rack shoes. Those who make the best handmade shoes know how to handle fine leathers and suedes to craft a fine pair of shoes that will last you a long time—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.