Questions on made to order shoes and bespoke shoes.

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by chorse123, Oct 19, 2006.

  1. chorse123

    chorse123 Senior member

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    I asked a few weeks ago about the decision to graduate to bespoke suits, and the discussion helped me decide to try Varham at Mr. Ned for a jacket, which is in the works. Then I started thinking about made to order shoes and bespoke shoes. I have enough fun money to order a pair of bespoke shoes (Scafora), or two pairs of high-end custom handmade shoes (picking a last, style, material or materials). I'm not certain I will do either. If I'm thrilled with my Mr. Ned jacket, funds may certainly go towards more jackets, and I may go overboard at the Hickey Freeman sale. But a few questions came up, for which I couldn't find clear answers in the archives:

    • Durability: Are bespoke shoes more durable than RTW? Does a better fit translate to more balanced wear? I walk a lot - at least half an hour a day in NYC - and that can be rough on shoes.


    • Resoling: Have you had your bespoke shoes resoled more or less frequently than RTW? Do you have the original maker handle the repair? If so, is it significantly more expensive than a good cobbler?


    • Fit: Is the improvement in fit with bespoke extraordinary? Is it a flight above, or just a few noticeable steps? Does the same logic apply as with suits, that it will take a few orders? With Scafora, the cost of bespoke is roughly twice what I would pay for made-to-order.


    • Style: Did you order a basic style on your first bespoke shoes, or have you gone with something more unusual? I like that with shoes it seems you can stray from what is widely available in RTW but still be well within the bounds of good taste - see RJman's butterfly loafers. I'm not after an extreme shape, but would appreciate some unique details.
     
  2. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    Yes. Bepoke shoes tend to use tougher twine (hemp) and are made with a lot of hand-stitching that is more sublte and has more "give." This is good, allowing them to withstand stress better. At least, this has been the case for me. Also, the skins are better and stand up to wear better. I have had skin crack and flake on even very good RTW shoes, never on bespoke shoes.

    It is WAY more expensive than a good cobbler. This is a problem. I can't say if mine have needed more or fewer resolings as I have not kept meticulous count, but it's been comparable, and that hurts the wallet. Adding a steel toe or a rubber tip at the toe can help. Extra rows of nails are useless, in my experience.

    In my case, the fit improvement is very noticeable, yet still hard to justify, in that I am not hard to fit RTW. Which is to say, RTW shoes are not uncomfortable, whereas bespoke shoes fit very closely without any pinching. The feeling is inimitable. I thus consider the fit improvement to be an enjoyable luxury. What IS noticable, to me, is the way a bespoke last LOOKS. At its best, it is so obviously sui generis and original that no RTW last, no matter how elegant, can really compare.

    All of mine are either traditional, or just every so slightly different in a way that hardly anyone will notice. I don't really like unusual shoes.
     
  3. Concordia

    Concordia Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    • Durability: Are bespoke shoes more durable than RTW? Does a better fit translate to more balanced wear? I walk a lot - at least half an hour a day in NYC - and that can be rough on shoes.


    • Resoling: Have you had your bespoke shoes resoled more or less frequently than RTW? Do you have the original maker handle the repair? If so, is it significantly more expensive than a good cobbler?


    I have had cracks in one pair of bespoke shoes-- my first pair, and I am at a loss as to explain why. Perhaps b/c it was a very fine, flexible calfskin. Or not enough polish or some other infraction on my part. Central heating?

    One note about re-soling is that resoling on your own last produces markedly better results than a generic job. The only point of comparison I have here is with Wildsmith (EG/C&J), as these were the only shoes I had pre-bespoke days that were good enough to re-sole. The re-soled shoes tended to feel OK upon arrival, but became less so over time. Resoled Cleverleys feel like Cleverleys and stay that way. As they should: a resoling job from them has roughly the same cost as a new pair of hand grade RTWs.
     
  4. Will

    Will Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    As I tell my wife, a valid strategy to avoid high bespoke re-soling costs is to have so many shoes that a sole never wears out.
    [​IMG]
     
  5. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt The Liberator Dubiously Honored

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    Lattanzi is very cheap for resoling ($250), but he sure does get you on the front end!. I find absolutly no fit improvement from RTW to bespoke. I have even had a bespoke maker try to talk me out of shoes because my feet are really normal. The reason to do it is, IMO, twofold. First, you can have a shoe made to your specs as far as materials and design. The materials for handmade shoes (including bespoke and RTW like Lattanzi or Scafora) are much better. In suede it is night and day. Second, you can get a handwelted shoe. I think that they are more comfortable and don't take time to break in. Again, that goes for both RTW and bespoke handwelted shoes that I have worn. I think that Scafora makes really, really nice shoes and is a good bargain. He also does make RTW to his bespoke standards. I don't know if he will sell them in the US or not to non-bespoke customers. They do sell them at PrimoPianoItalia. You can find them on the web at www.primopianoitalia.it. Price is right around $1k for RTW handmade shoes.
     
  6. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Suitsupply-sider

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    My bespoke shoes are both more durable than even fine RTW but they are lighter and more comfortable.

    Amesbury is reasonable on resoles and as Matt says same for Lattanzi.

    The fit of bespoke is extraordinary since the lasts when done right are exactly like your feet.

    I did a two traditional shoes for bespoke, one Lattanzi, one Amesbury. My next Amesbury will have some unusual features.

    It's worth the money. [​IMG]
     
  7. chorse123

    chorse123 Senior member

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    Very helpful. Thanks for the responses!
     

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