This whole issue of "MTM" versus "bespoke" is opening a can of worms where shoes are concerned. Â (This is not true for clothes, for reasons I will try to clarify below.) First off, consider how a shoe is made, and what role the last serves. Â For purposes of this discussion, the last serves two functions -- it can be used for the development of a specific and unique upper pattern, from which the upper leather will be cut; and of course it will be used for the actual production of the shoe, when the upper leather is stretched over the last and then the insole, welt, and sole are attached to the upper. Â The value of the use of the last for the creation of the upper pattern is that, in theory, the upper will look nicer and hug the foot better if the upper is made specifically for the exact last on which the shoe will be produced. Â In addition, of course, the ultimate fit of the completed shoe will be in large part a result of how the last relates to the wearer's foot. It is axiomatic that RTW shoes are made on "stock" lasts, from which upper patterns have been derived and on which the RTW shoes are manufactured. Â In point of fact, though, I think that many manufacturers will have a reduced number of upper patterns for their production, relying on the pliability of leather and the "˜lasting margin' to allow them to use the same upper for more than one size - e.g. a size 8 and a size 8 Â½ might both be made using the same upper pattern, which means the larger size will have the leather stretched a bit more over the last, and also with less "˜overhang' around the bottom of the last - this "˜overhang' is trimmed off after the shoe has been welted. Â Also, in the case where a variety of shoe shapes are offered but the lasts are otherwise similar, one upper pattern may suffice for making a similar shoe with different toe shapes. "Bespoke" shoes, on the other hand, are made on lasts made specifically for the customer's feet, based on a series of measurements takes by the shoemaker, the nature of the customer's feet (e.g. fleshy vs. bony), the customer's preferred fit, the desired toe shape, and the type of shoe/boot to be produced. Â There are a number of measurements that may be used to produce the last, including length (overall, and heel to ball, the latter more important), joint circumference, waist circumference, instep circumference, "short heel" and "long heel" circumferences, heel width, joint width, and ankle circumference. Â Further, the shape of a customer's feet must be factored in, generally based on a tracing and/or foot imprint from the customer's feet - that is to say that measurements, while necessary, are not sufficient for a truly bespoke last. So, the objective in all of this is to end up with a last with a specific three-dimensional shape (perhaps topography is a better term, since it is the exterior of the last that is important here). Â How the shoemaker arrives at that shape is, IMO, not important. Â That is, s/he can start with a block of wood and carve it down to the desired shape, or s/he could start with an existing last and modify it (by building up and taking away material at the appropriate locations). Â If these two methods end up with identical shapes/topographies, why should one be called "bespoke" and the other "custom" or "MTM"? Â [Of course, this assumes that one can end up with the exact same shape through both methods. Â This will depend upon the skill of the person doing the modification of the stock last, as well as its initial shape.] How is this different than the bespoke vs. MTM distinction in tailored clothes? Â In tailored clothes, the pattern is used to cut the cloth, but there is no equivalent to a last in the production of the suit nor in the creation of the pattern; so, a bespoke pattern is based on all of a customer's measurements, plus variables such as amount of drape desired, weight of the fabric, and desired shoulder shape/padding, whereas a MTM suit is not. Â Rather, a MTM suit is made using a stock pattern that is modified, to a limited extent, for the cutting of the cloth. Â So, a MTM suit would most likely never be cut from a pattern that ends up identical to that of a bespoke pattern, given the constraints in modifying the MTM pattern. Â (If a MTM garment ended up with a pattern identical to that of a bespoke one, then there would be no difference between the two, assuming no difference in construction.) Â Given two identical lasts, one made de novo and the other by modification - which is conceivable --, the end product would be identical. Now, all of that being said, what about Vass' and E Green's offerings? Â I think one issue is how much modification is done to the stock lasts before the shoe is made. Â Vass certainly take a set of measurements; as I recall, these were: length; joint, waist, and instep circumferences; short heel; and overall foot tracing/perimeter. Â Now, what they do with these measurements I cannot say, but given these measurements I think one could say their "bespoke" offering is truly bespoke, vis-a-vis the last's shape/topography. Â The context in which Vass' offering is more like MTM is that they seem to offer customers a limited set of upper patterns, which can be combined with a (modified) last (and associated toe shape). Â In contrast, the traditional bespoke makers offer customers the option of designing their own upper pattern, allow them to select their choice of leathers, and will essentially allow a customer to select any toe shape combined with any overall last shape. Â I also tend to doubt that Vass are truly making a new upper pattern based on the modified last, although in this context I could be mistaken. Â So, is it bespoke or MTM? Â You tell me. I am less familiar with the specifics of the Green custom program ( see later post for clarification -- in this missive, I am addressing the non-bespoke offering, i.e. the "MTM"/stock special/____ service); my impression is that they will do some fairly simple modifications to a last to reflect a customer's unique feet, but these modifications are not based on an extensive set of measurements like those of bespoke lasts. Â I also doubt that the Green custom offering would involve a new and uniquely made pattern based on the modified last; given the limited modifications to the last, the existing patterns would most likely be used Â Green will make any upper patterns on any last and in a huge range of leathers; given their large range of patterns, this is quite a flexible offering. However, there is no doubt that it is not bespoke, nor would I call it MTM. Â I don't know what I would call it. Moving beyond the issue of last and upper pattern, there is the issue of construction technique. Â In general, bespoke makers (at least in the Europe) use different construction techniques than do RTW makers (with the exception of Vass, Lattanzi, and Â perhaps Kiton). Â The E Green custom/'MTM'/fill-in-the-blank offering is made using Green's RTW construction techniques, aside from any unique leathers they might offer. JCusey also addresses American custom bootmakers; the term "˜bespoke' has no tradition in US bootmaking, so it is not used. Â However, in terms of the lasts used, I would argue that the best bootmakers do make "bespoke" boots. Â While they do not generally make lasts de novo, they do extensive modifications to lasts, and they choose lasts based on a customer's foot shape, measurements,etc. Â [It is said that a truly capable bootmaker can make a 10EEE last out of a 6AA last.] Â Ultimately, the question is not the source/history/methodology for arriving at the shape of the last, but the final shape.