Originally Posted by nutcracker
While I can`t say much about how fast/slow European makers work, I do know a shoemaker here who spends about 160 hours making a pair. Thats pretty much twice as longer as most other makers spend........
Leaving all statements for the consumption of prospective clients out of the equation, I would say that is the actual time spent on making a pair of bespoke shoes. Important is that these figures refer to specialists who make nothing else than a particular step in production of bespoke shoes, have been doing it for many years and are highly experienced in their particular task.Last making: 1 day.
A distinguished last maker (then in semi-retirement), told me that in his best days he could do 2 pairs of bespoke lasts a day. I mean, he reduced an oversized last down to the right size. He did not "fit-up" an existing last, nor did he cut the last from a block of wood.Upper making: 1 - 1 1/2 days.
Making the "forme", drawing the "standard" and drawing the sectional patterns might take 2 hours, "Clicking" (cutting out) will take another hour. The time it takes to "close" (stitching together) depends very much on the design. Some designs are plain and can be done quickly, others with brogueing, hand-stitched aprons or designs that need "blocking" (pulling wet leather over a wooden board that, when dry, the leather has acquired the curve of the board) will take far more time.Bottom making: 2 - 2 1/12 days
Specialized "makers" will do the bottom work on 2 or 3 pairs a week. That will include finish (scraping, dying, polishing of the soles and welts) but they won't polish the uppers.Final finish: 1/2 day.
Back in the firm's headquarters, the last gets removed, the uppers polished and a "sock" (insole liner) gets fitted).
All in all, a pair of bespoke shoes can be done in a week or 40 - 45 hours. Actually it will take longer and cannot be done in a calendar week as there a various drying times involved and all shoemaker (at a given point in time) will have more than one pair on the go.
I do not want to judge whether the shoemaker quoted spends actually 160 hours on a pair or s/he is exaggerating. While the average firm (with one man/woman working on the shoes at a given time) can turn out some 50 pairs a year, the other shoemaker can turn out only 12 or so pairs a year. That is an enormous difference which would need to be reflected in the price charged (but probably is not)..