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Toronto bespoke shoemaker Nasser Vies

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Just finished reading an article in the newspaper about a local (for me at least) bespoke shoemaker named Nassar Vies, the shoes in the accompanying photos looked decent and it said shoes start at $750. Anybody know anything about this guy? Where is his shop and how good are his shoes?
post #2 of 13
I saw it in the Star as well. I googled him but couldn't find his shop.
post #3 of 13

For that price, there's no way I would try these guys (even though he's 1km from me). There's G&G and Edward Green who are established with proven quality goods for the same $.

post #4 of 13
Boo on the OP for not supplying a link to the original article.

Link is here: Toronto’s boot maker to the stars: Nasser Vies

Quoted below for the lazy.

227
Quote:
Special effects are usually about big explosions. But if Nasser Vies is involved, then they’re about shoes.

The Toronto shoemaker has done more conventional work; he’s made tango shoes for actor Robert Duvall and black boots for Blue Rodeo front man Jim Cuddy. Yet lately his talents are being displayed on the silver screen.

Vies’s upcoming projects include designing shoe-weapon hybrids for Nikita, a television series, and leatherwork for Pacific Rim, a monster movie directed by Guillermo del Toro, currently being shot in the Port Lands.

Vies is one of a handful of bespoke (custom to order) boot makers in the city. He’s invisible on the Internet, aside from postings on shoemaker and shoe aficionado sites, but has become one of Hollywood’s go-to men for shoes and accessories.

“When I was looking for a shoemaker in Toronto, I couldn’t find anyone,” said Tibere Benoist D’Anthenay, Vies’s 21-year-old apprentice.

After months of searching, D’Anthenay considers himself lucky to have found a teacher, let alone one of Vies’s calibre.

D’Anthenay and Vies work out of a small shop on Queen St. E. In the workroom, which smells faintly of leather and polish, a copy of The Fall of the Athenian Empire, a history of the Peloponnesian War, sits beside a potted north fork pine, a species of tree whose sap is harvested to use as shoe wax. D’Anthenay says CBC Radio 2 is almost always on.

Vies, a 53-year-old wearing a denim apron and chestnut-brown Oxford semi-brogue shoes, says he was born the youngest of four children in Abadan, Iran, a city across the river from Iraq.

Like many of the city’s workers, his father was an employee of an oil refinery.

“They were not buying custom shoes,” Vies said of his parents. Instead, his father, originally from the country, would wear giveh, a cotton weave shoe with soles made of cattle intestine, designed for traversing the rocky countryside.

Vies graduated with a math major and was planning on becoming an engineer. But when he moved to Canada in 1980, he discovered shoemaking.

“After a few months you get the bug,” he said.

He worked for 2½ years as an apprentice in Dundas. When the shop owner moved to Digby, N.S., Vies stayed and opened his first shop in Toronto’s Annex, on the corner of Ulster St. and Brunswick Ave.

He quickly won clients, mostly for Broadway shows. Years later, when the North York Theatre shut down, he began working in the film industry.

Vies’s shoes and boots range in price from $750 to $1,500, depending on materials. The more exotic, such as those made from the skin of crocodiles and lizards, are the most expensive.

He hopes to expand his shop from two people to three or four — if only to pass on his secrets.

“It’s a trade in decline,” he said. “There are not enough shoemakers.”

Until then, Vies plans to keep working in his modest workshop, decorated with mustard-coloured drapes and turquoise walls.

“The swimming pool colour,” he said, looking at the walls. “We’ll do white next time.”

Forum member Doxe was considering him at one time but I don't know if he actually went through with it.

Nasser does post some of his work on DWF's cordwainer website.
Edited by Odd I/O - 2/23/12 at 7:21pm
post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by addedfuel View Post

For that price, there's no way I would try these guys (even though he's 1km from me). There's G&G and Edward Green who are established with proven quality goods for the same $.

So you would buy shoes produced en masse from a store hundreds of kilometres away priced to include the markups of distributors and retailers, but you won't buy shoes made specifically for you buy 1 person?

wow. not having seen the shoes myself, i think it'd be worth your while to walk down the road and check him out.
post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by addedfuel View Post

For that price, there's no way I would try these guys (even though he's 1km from me). There's G&G and Edward Green who are established with proven quality goods for the same $.

Another guy talking out of his ass. The only shoes around that price from G&G and EG are the RTW which is not the same as bespoke. G&G's bespoke service cost 2-3 times more.

Just go down check out the guy's work and samples while keeping in mind that this is bespoke for RTW prices.
post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Verniza View Post

Just go down check out the guy's work and samples while keeping in mind that this is bespoke for RTW prices.

pretty much, if they're genuine bespoke you can't really compare to rtw so long as the quality and finishing is there.
post #8 of 13
I've seen pictures of his work on the website DWFII moderates: thehcc.org. His work definitely looks better than average for that site, but not quite as good as DW's stuff, imo at least. If I lived in TO, though, I'd give him a try.
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Apologies for not linking the article, I posting from my iPhone. To make up for that faux pas, I think I found the shop while walking around after Googling him. If you are familiar with Toronto, get to Queen St. E and Broadview, go one block east on Queen St., south side to the Opera House, across the street will be a Chinese takeout place, a couple of doors south will be a tiny storefront with a "Bespoke Shoemaker" sign in the window. Blink and you'll mis s it. I'm confident that's him, the store was closed, but what are the chances of another bespoke shoemaker on Queen St. E?

Probably going to pop in to see the goods and ask a few questions. Starting prices seem really good for bespoke, I just paid more for new G&Gs this week. If it looks okay, I might commission a pair of brown PTBs, need a pair anyway and not really up for AE Kenilworths or commissioning a MTO G&G or EG just yet. Personally, I would like to try to support more artisanal craftsman, especially local ones.
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by emptym View Post

I've seen pictures of his work on the website DWFII moderates: thehcc.org. His work definitely looks better than average for that site, but not quite as good as DW's stuff, imo at least. If I lived in TO, though, I'd give him a try.

MT,

Nasser is a great guy, knows his stuff, does everything as traditionally as can be done in this day and age, and his work is true bespoke.
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
I popped by his shop this week, the instructions I posted above will lead you there. Mr. Vies is an affable, knowledgeable guy. I saw some pieces and we chatted a bit about what I had in mind and I asked a few standard questions about fit, form and construction. I'm pretty sure I'll commission a pair this month. Having a bespoke pair of shoes made has always been a dream.

If I can ever figure out how to post pics, I'll upload them. We haven't discussed price yet, but from the newspaper article, they should come in around what I've paid for RTW recently.
post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivon View Post

I popped by his shop this week, the instructions I posted above will lead you there. Mr. Vies is an affable, knowledgeable guy. I saw some pieces and we chatted a bit about what I had in mind and I asked a few standard questions about fit, form and construction. I'm pretty sure I'll commission a pair this month. Having a bespoke pair of shoes made has always been a dream.
If I can ever figure out how to post pics, I'll upload them. We haven't discussed price yet, but from the newspaper article, they should come in around what I've paid for RTW recently.

Please keep us updated if you do decide to commission a pair from him.

What's his selection of leather/suede like? And how do they compare to G&G leather?

Contact information for Nasser is below based on what I could glean from a google search.

Hand Made Shoes
93 Lewis st.
Toronto, Ontario
M4M 2H2
Canada
Phone Number: (416) 778-7012
Contact Name: Nasser Vies
post #13 of 13

Here are a few pics for the enthusiasts. Enjoy!!

 

 

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

P1011071.JPG

 

P1011075.JPG


Edited by jaihoo - 5/11/12 at 12:02pm
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