This is the update I promised everyone on my Vass bespoke shoes. I thought I'd give a bit of background as well in case anyone else wants to give it a try: The flight was long but uneventful. I only paid about $600 for the ticket. I flew British Airways via London. My first morning there I visited the very small but very charming (for a shoe buff) Vass shop in downtown Pest (Budapest was once three cities - Buda, Obuda and Pest. They still refer to one side as Buda and the other as Pest - Buda is on one side of the river and Pest is on the other.) The shop is located in the heart of the city's best shopping district. There I met Mr. Vass and his daughter Eva. I wish I could have spent more time talking to Mr. Vass but I can't speak Hungarian and we had to communicate through his daughter. I can only imagine the things he could have told me. Even through the language barrier I could tell he was a very nice gentleman. Eva is a wonderful young lady. She is very involved with the business and can usually be found running the shop. Here is a picture of me being measured for my new shoes by Mr. Vass: The measurements didn't take too long. He felt the structure of my feet for a while then took measurements and drew an outline on a pad of paper. On the outline he wrote the measurements, made a lot of notes and he even drew a representation of some of the more difficult areas of my feet (like my little toe which sits at an odd angle and which causes me no end of trouble.) He also examined the shoes I wore (a pair of Church's wingtips.) I don't know if he approved of them or not He made the comment (translated through Eva) that I had "difficult feet." I took pictures of most of the shoes there in the shop and asked a million questions. Then it was off to the workshop. That's me there taking pictures in the workshop. It was amazing to see the shoes being made. Everything was being made by hand. What really struck me was how quickly the shoemakers moved. Every motion was done very quickly and very precisely and with a lot of force. It's hard to describe but it was amazing to watch. I spent the next few days sightseeing in Budapest. It is a very beautiful city and certainly be worth a visit even if Vass were not there. The weather was nice, the sights were beautiful, the people were friendly and fascinating and the food was SUPERB. And everything is quite cheap for a visitor. About two months after I returned home I recieved my first pair of bespoke shoes. They were actually ready in about 5 weeks but I had arrange a wire transfer to pay for them and then they had to be shipped. Budapest shoemakers were quite famous in the first part of the last century. Their most popular creation was a full brogue derby with a high toe cap which was named the Budapest in their honor. This is the same shoe that Vass makes today. It is very unique and very elegant shoe that is starting to reach the level of its former popularity. What I found especially interesting is that in Hungary the Budapest is looked upon as a very conservative shoe - just like the wingtip is here. If you see a well dressed older man strolling along in Budapest, chances are he's wearing Budapests. But here in the states I have a feeling the shoe is going to be percieved almost as high-fashion because of the unique toe shape. For my first pair I had ordered Budapests in dark brown with 360 degree double stitching and a topy (hard rubber sheet) inlaid into the sole. When I first tried them on I was worried because they were a bit tight. But Mr. Vass knew what he was doing - they fit perfectly after I had worn them a couple of times. I have been enjoying them immensely. They are very versatile shoes, I wear them with jeans, sportcoats and slacks and even tweedier suits: As you can see they are quite wide. That's because I've got a wide foot. My brother, who was with me on the trip, ordered a pair of Budapests as well: He loves his and he kept trying to wear them every day. I was able to convince him to give them a rest when I told them that his new pair of $500 shoes (he's never spent anywhere NEAR that much on a pair of shoes before) would be ruined very quickly if he wears them every day All in all it has been a very positive experience. I'm looking forward to ordering my next pair.
post #1 of 42
8/14/03 at 7:15am