Originally Posted by bamboo
Interesting question. I am not really qualified to answer, but my thinking is that Europe is a mecca for shoe making and many of them trained and apprenticed in UK or Italy.
Most of them are relatively new in the trade, hence less experienced than well known houses in UK. Depending on the currency rate, for past two years, UK bespoke might be less expensive than Japanese who apprenticed (some time not so long time) there. So it can be seen "Why I pay more to the apprentice than to the master who trained him?"
I am in the process of making one at GC.
That is exactly what I think many Japanese are thinking, in fact that is one of the ongoing issue/topic being discussed at the Bespoke thread in the Japanese 2ch forum. "Why pay same or more for a Japanese maker?"
UK firms like Cleverley definitely has an edge in career and experience, and many Japanese still wouldn't ever consider getting a bespoke locally made.
Of course, the main advantages of ordering locally is language for one, and being able to build a lasting relationship (or a patron-like relationship) with the makers.
There are several other factors that I hear among pro-Japanese bespoke voices:
1. They understand Japanese feet/anatomy as well as living customs better
2. Perceived to be made in a higher standard of quality vs European shoes
3. Support local artisans and industry
4. Stylistically catching up (or have caught up already)
And also keep in mind of how Japanese makers think about pricing their shoes. With an output of 4 to 6 pairs a month at best, ¥300K or so per pair is reasonable, if they intend to make a living or support a family just by making shoes (in the world's most expensive country to live). Any less, I find it hard for most makers to do it full time. Many in fact run shoemaking schools, or teach at local technical colleges. I don't think shoemaking is a career that will make any of them rich, but they love what they do, so good for them.
I assume many English outworkers aren't able to support their lives by just making shoes, not sure but that is what I've heard.
Considering that the shoemaking trade, especially the hand made variety, is a traditional craft that arguably has been on an irreversible decline in Europe and elsewhere, I think it is absolutely fantastic that it is seeing a Renaissance of some sort in Japan (of all places). And the fact that these small Bespoke artisans are still running the business after some years means that there must be a steady or growing pool of patrons that support them. The week yen definitely won't hurt (unless they import their materials).