or Connect
Styleforum › Forums › Men's Style › Classic Menswear › Shoes
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Shoes

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
After much sole searching (bad pun) I have decided to finally break down and get my first pair of bespoke shoes. I was hoping I could get some opinions on who I should go with. I obviously want the best possible pair shoes for my money, but I am working under the impression that when it comes to bespoke shoes the construction is very similar from maker to maker. Is that a safe assumption, or am I way off base here? I am looking for a fairly conventional/conservative design, so that shouldn't be an issue either. I guess the big thing I want are shoes that fit absolutely perfect, look good, and at the best possible price. Does anyone have recommendations? I am in Greenwich, CT and I can easily get down to NYC, so I would think that I should have some options...although, I am not sure that I want to fly all the way to Budapest, so Vass is probably out of the running. By the way, thanks to A. Harris for the great pictures and awesome write up about his experience buying the pair of Vass. I would love to hear who A. Harris, Bengal-Stripe, Naturlaut, Steve, or anyone else for that matter, think I should look at.
post #2 of 8
I am familiar with 3 US-based bespoke shoemakers: Perry Ercolino, who works out of Doylestown, Pa but also spends time in NYC, sharing space with bespoke tailor Leonard Logsdale (ex-Savile Row). He has a web site www.perryercolino.com According to a recent e-mail exchange, his current price is $2800. Vincent & Edgar (NYC): I don't know much about them, but as I recall they have been mentioned favorably in articles about bespoke shoes, in Cigar Afficionado and/or the Robb Report. ____ Bootmakers in the Wall Street area of NYC (I forget the name): they are mentioned in the Vass book. Also, many of the UK bespoke makers do trips to the US, including Cleverley and John Lobb (the original from St. James, London) and, perhaps, Henry Maxwell (now joined with Foster & Sons, Jermyn Street, London) and Jason Amesbury. I recently received the Lobb mailing about their US trip, but I threw it out. As I recall, the price of the Lobb shoes is north of $3000. Cleverley's are around $2000, I think. Also, Edward Green has begun a bepoke service, but this is probably only available in the UK. The Lobb/Hermes (Paris) bespoke shoemakers do travel to NYC as well; I'm sure either the Hermes Madison Avenue store or the NYC Lobb store can give you details. I think these bespoke shoes may be north of $4,000. Of the Italian makers, I am really only familiar at all with Lattanzi; his NYC store perhaps can do bespoke shoes, as I think he travels occasionally to the US. His shoes are really expensive. Of the other French makers, perhaps Berluti can do bespoke over here; I know they are planning to open a US store, but I don't think they have done so yet, so this may be premature. JM Weston has a bespoke service based on a computer-aided lastmaking process; however, I think this is only offered at one or more of the Paris stores. I'll defer to others in terms of quality; one thing I will say is that it makes sense to decide whose "house style" you like. Certainly the Cleverley toe is distinctive and a good choice for many people. If you don't mind spending the extra dollars, I think it is hard to beat the original Lobb London shoes. I also think it is nice to give the business to a family-run enterprise, rather than the Hermes/LVMH's of the world. Given the prices of these makers, it makes a trip to Budapest to visit Vass look more reasonable, if you can afford the time. I'm sure this time of year the airfare would be ridiculously cheap.
post #3 of 8
Different workshops have different practices, as far as fittings and trial shoes are concerned. The most celebrated firm, John Lobb, St James, does not do any fittings at all (famous for it), while Olga Berluti expects you to walk around in the trial pair for some three month. Most other workshops fall somewhere in between. To get perfection from a certain firm, you will need to attend the fittings and fall into the way the workshop works. Secondly it is very important that you know what you want. Have a look at the shoes you own and decide what you like and what you don't like about them. See a number of potential makers and have a preliminary conversation. You are about to commit to spend a large sum of money, so make sure you find someone you feel happy working with. Your preferences should correspond with the style of the firm. If you like a Cuban heal and Latin flourish an English firm might aim to give you that, but they won't have it in their blood. Look at samples (most shoemakers have samples which are absolutely ancient) but also at work in progress. Only when you think the firm is right for your needs, place an order. All the best, I envy you. No, I haven't made it to bespoke shoes (yet).
post #4 of 8
Quote:
____ Bootmakers in the Wall Street area of NYC (I forget the name): they are mentioned in the Vass book.
Perhaps you mean Vogel: http://www.vogelboots.com?
post #5 of 8
Quote:
I know they are planning to open a US store,
(jumping up and down with joy)
Quote:
JM Weston has a bespoke service based on a computer-aided lastmaking process; however, I think this is only offered at one or more of the Paris stores.
I contacted them about this, unfortunately the program has been discontinued. They still have an incredible custom-order program which is going to be the next best thing to bespoke. If you want to buy within the US and you don't want to spend $2000 or more, the only option that comes to mind is Vogel. The styling is not nearly as sophisticated as the top makers but the price is good - $850 for the first pair (includes a $200 charge to make the last) and $650 for subsequent pairs.
post #6 of 8
Quote:
If you want to buy within the US and you don't want to spend $2000 or more, the only option that comes to mind is Vogel. The styling is not nearly as sophisticated as the top makers...
Can you be more specific about the less sophisticated styling of the Vogel's?  If you can design your own shoe (I don't know if Vogel will allow you to do this as the high-end bespoke makers will), can't you determine the styling yourself?  Or, is it the subtle quality markers that make the Vogel's less sophisticated -- fineness of stitching, hand-staining and burnishing of the leather, shape of the last(s), narrowness of the waist?  I would appreciate any additional insights you can provide regarding this maker. (Thanks in advance.)
Quote:
  JM Weston has a bespoke service based on a computer-aided lastmaking process; however, I think this is only offered at one or more of the Paris stores. I contacted them about this, unfortunately the program has been discontinued. They still have an incredible custom-order program which is going to be the next best thing to bespoke.
Too bad.  I've been wondering why someone hasn't done this in a bigger way to make semi-bespoke or Made-to-Measure shoes.  I've looked at two related sites (www.digitoe.com and www.digilast.com) that talk about technology to enable this service.  Given that Brooks Brothers has introduced a computerized measuring service for tailored clothing at their flagship store in NYC (I don't know how its been doing with this, however), I am sort of surprised they haven't worked out something similar with Alden or Crockett & Jones.  It wouldn't seem to me to be that difficult to do, given that the software exists. (However, I personally have no understanding of how difficult it is to turn a set of digital measurements into a last that will reflect the idiosyncratic needs of customers. Obviously, bespoke shoemakers use lastmakers with years of experience; could this be captured in an artificial intelligence program integrated into a digital lastmaking operation?) I know when I inquired at Weston about their bespoke service, the price was something like $2000 -- so much for the cost savings of digitization.   I know there is/was a store in NJ that was measuring feet and faxing the measurements off to Italy for shoes to be made, but I believe the measurements were merely used to select the best fit from a collection of existing lasts.
post #7 of 8
Quote:
After much sole searching (bad pun) I have decided to finally break down and get my first pair of bespoke shoes.   Does anyone have recommendations?  I am in Greenwich, CT and I can easily get down to NYC, so I would think that I should have some options...although, I am not sure that I want to fly all the way to Budapest, so Vass is probably out of the running.  By the way, thanks to A. Harris for the great pictures and awesome write up about his experience buying the pair of Vass. I would love to hear who A. Harris, Bengal-Stripe, Naturlaut, Steve, or anyone else for that matter, think I should look at.
Mr. AAA, As I have not been in US for long, I can't give you recommendation for US makers.  On an interesting side note, I know a great deal of Japanese shoemakers who make tremendously beautiful shoes.  They tend to be a fusion of Italians and English, the lasts resemble those of a StefanoBi with a light touch of Green's antiquing, while some hint at Lattanzi with a waist as slim as those of Cleverley.  The ones I know had gone through vigorous training that can be compared to the Technical Institute of Shoe Art in Milan (sorry for bad translation, it shoud be Istituto Tecnico Internazionale dell'Arte calzaturiera), and their prices commence at around US$1500. In my opinion, the training background of an Artisan is quite important.  I always make it a point to find out where a suit/shirt/shoe-maker had his training, as it will reflect heavily on his style and taste.   However, while I am rather 'cheap' when it comes to grocery shopping (I would purposely take a train down to Chinatown or the 99cent store on 34th Street), I would save up and order a suit/shirt/shoes from a maker I know I would not regret, ---  (Feel free to slap me at this point) which is also a reason why I restrain from ordering $45 shirts from Jantzen (which I know I would end up ordering 5 or 6) and get a $600 custom Kiton that I will not regret till the day I die.  Fortunately, Marcello gives me and Thracozaag a small discount with no tax .....
post #8 of 8
Quote:
I've looked at two related sites (www.digitoe.com and www.digilast.com) that talk about technology to enable this service.  Given that Brooks Brothers has introduced a computerized measuring service for tailored clothing at their flagship store in NYC (I don't know how its been doing with this, however), I am sort of surprised they haven't worked out something similar with Alden or Crockett & Jones.  It wouldn't seem to me to be that difficult to do, given that the software exists.  (However, I personally have no understanding of how difficult it is to turn a set of digital measurements into a last that will reflect the idiosyncratic needs of customers.  
I know that computerized measurements and last making is quite frequently used for orthopaedic shoes. I can understand that, I can equally understand why it might not be the best way to make made-to-measure shoes. Unlike an orthopaedic shoe where a good fit is everything, you want your bespoke shoe to look equally good. Think about a corset. There it is the skill of the corset maker to lift here, tuck in there, give tightness where needed but equally fullness where it is required. I don't think a computerized image would give the perfect corsage, as every client will have different requirements. I believe the same thing applies to shoes. The toe shape of a shoe does not necessarily follow your natural toe shape but it will be culturally interpreted. Even when Signor Lattanzi makes an "English" model it will have quite a heavy Italian accent. In these days bespoke shoes are elevated to the level of ultimate luxury and of course, the few people who still make bespoke shoes will reflect that in their work (as well as their prices).
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Classic Menswear
Styleforum › Forums › Men's Style › Classic Menswear › Shoes