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The Bespoke Shoes Thread

j ingevaldsson

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JLP has 15 people working on shoes in the workshop. I don’t think they plan on increasing or decreasing that number.
Hm ok, I was quite sure they weren't that many anymore, and there certainly hasn't been anything near 15 people in the building the last couple of times I've visited. But I could be wrong.
EDIT: Sorry, thought you meant John Lobb St James, then don’t mind the above.

Hermès would endure huge damage to its reputation if it started fucking up bespoke orders for saddles and what not. Seeing how they sell 10, 20k+ euro handbags by the thousands, keeping JLP Bespoke at a high level is peanuts to them.

On the other hand, JL-St James having to use gig economy contracts like Uber drivers for its 10-20 employees shows that they clearly don't have the same financial constraints as Hermès, or indeed LVMH which owns Berluti.

LVMH bought out the entire atelier of Anthony Delos just to keep the reputation of Berluti bespoke intact. Just like Chanel bought dozens of lace and embroidery ateliers to stay on top of haute couture.

Independently-owned companies like JL-St James might struggle to survive actually, and that's even discounting the fact that big groups bought all the tanneries and keep the top tier leather to themselves.
Yeah in a way LVMH and Hermés have been very important for the bespoke craft, and for employing and making it worthwile taking the effort to become a shoemaker, at least in France. Berluti has around 20 employed in the Paris and Delos workshops combined, and then around 15 at JLP. And they are probably the ones with the most "normal" work environment, with regular working days and decent salaries.

Another note worth doing, is that as I understand it royalties from Hermés for the John Lobb name is still a very important income for the Lobb family of the St James operation. So in a way, the luxury goods and factory made shoes are enablers of a lot of bespoke shoemakers, whether we like it or not.
 
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thatshoeotaku

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You may be right. Being 73 years old, semi-retired, and an ocean away I have a much harder keeping track.

But not to put too fine a point on it, the point was, my point was:



...which, in my mind, at least, most nearly answers @thatshoeotaku 's question.

👣
I very much agree with Jesper on this. There's not much difference between how John Lobb London and Cleverley operate. And if they are receiving royalties for John Lobb Goodyear welted shoes then you could say they have a direct interest in machine made shoes, not unlike Cleverley. Which by the way I don't have a problem with.

My main gripe is the quality of the making, often disappointing. But just to be very clear, not in the same way that dieworkwear does.
 

DWFII

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Well, here you have a discussion that either arises out of, or revolves around, an issue with a pair of bespoke shoes made by a company whose primary focus is manufacturing (and all that is implied by that--minimizing cost-of-production, maximizing profit, production values inextricably tied to speed, and little or no attention to the individual), and you ask how that company is different from another company which is dedicated to the traditional techniques and preservation of skills and knowledge and quality; whose primary focus is Traditional, handwelted bespoke shoes with an emphasis on the individual...both in terms of the employees and the customer, to the point where each customer's last is stored with his/her name on it...and marginal concern for the time required.

As a question it doesn't make much sense unless the purpose of the question is to obscure the very real (IMO, as a maker) differences.

It goes back to my proposition that it doesn't make sense to order a bespoke shoe from a company for whom Traditional, handwelted, bespoke shoes are an after-thought (or a bone to be thrown to customers looking for something beyond mundane, manufactured quality...whatever that level).

Nor does it make sense to be surprised when problems arise.

It's like trying to drive a screw with a hammer.

In fact, it actually makes more sense to seek out some obscure but dedicated, Traditional, handwelted, bespoke maker, who you've never heard of and give that fellow a chance. In all probability, the prices will be better, the objective quality (if not the finish), might be as good (if not better) and the maker will be focused not just on the quality of the shoe but you as a customer.

Whatever...I think the whole canted backseam and "rocking shoes" can be variously ascribed to karma and "evolution in action". And I deplore the excuses.

But that's just my opinion...as a maker. Take it for what it's worth.

👣
 
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thatshoeotaku

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Well, here you have a discussion that either arises out of, or revolves around, an issue with a pair of bespoke shoes made by a company whose primary focus is manufacturing (and all that is implied by that--minimizing cost-of-production, maximizing profit, production values inextricably tied to speed, and little or no attention to the individual), and you ask how that company is different from another company which is dedicated to the traditional techniques and preservation of skills and knowledge and quality; whose primary focus is Traditional, handwelted bespoke shoes with an emphasis on the individual...both in terms of the employees and the customer, to the point where each customer's last is stored with his/her name on it...and marginal concern for the time required.
I'll be very frank and say that I see don't see a difference in the level of dedication or perhaps lack of from the firms in question. Maybe you having more experience with John Lobb brings you to that conclusion, i'm certain you would change your mind about Cleverley if you spend more time with the shoemakers there. Especially if you examine the shoes yourself rather than just reading about them in a random rant online.

Can't agree more when you say that you get better chances with obscure and dedicated makers.
 

DWFII

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Not to put too fine a point on it (and then I will try to...ahem...'gracefully' retire) the very focus of each operation makes all the difference in the world.

Manufacturers do not...I will go so far as to say cannot...have or give attention to the same priorities or goals as the individual craftsman. The exigencies of the manufacturing process are worlds apart from the concerns and demands of the dedicated (meaning single-mindedly focused) bespoke Trade.
 

j ingevaldsson

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Not to put too fine a point on it (and then I will try to...ahem...'gracefully' retire) the very focus of each operation makes all the difference in the world.

Manufacturers do not...I will go so far as to say cannot...have or give attention to the same priorities or goals as the individual craftsman. The exigencies of the manufacturing process are worlds apart from the concerns and demands of the dedicated (meaning single-mindedly focused) bespoke Trade.
You make it sound like bespoke shoes and factory made RTW shoes are made in the same place by the same people.

The bespoke workshops of Cleverley, John Lobb Paris, Berluti or other brands doing both types of shoes don’t have anything to do with the RTW making (even if Cleverley lie about it from time to time). RTW for Cleverley is made in Northampton by other factories, John Lobb Paris is made in their Northampton factory (not even the same country), Berluti is made in their Italian factory (not the same country there either). Different people manage the operations, and then different people do them, with different materials in different ways. If anything, the RTW shoes (as I’ve mentioned before) has been enablers for many bespoke operations, making an economic foundation for these departments so they can spend more time, make better bespoke shoes etc.

The most intertwined bespoke/factory made rtw shoemaker would probably be Gaziano & Girling, who do both types of shoes in the same building, yet also there it’s of course also two different things done differently by different people (and we don’t hear about quality problems or bad bespoke shoes coming out from there).
 
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ixk

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I don't think compromise in quality is a problem, as long as you clearly tell it to the client and he knows 100% what you are selling and why the price is what it is.

In fact, some people out there could want a shoe for comfort at a lower price, that is, blake/good-year stitched with some suede that will survive anything.

As it is, if you want a last made from your foot, you also have to get the highest grade calfskin and the highest level of assembly. Some operations are quite consuming, such as making your own thread, glue, etc.


.
 

patrickBOOTH

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I don't think many people on here have experience with G&G bespoke other than Poorsod. We are mostly 10 cent millionaires on Style Forum and don't want to pony up that kinda dough.
 

willyto

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Maybe I'm reading it the wrong way but isn't it a fact that eventually some of the best shoemakers are abandoning the big houses to go on their own? Philip Atienza, Nicholas Templeman, Dominic Casey, the people at Carré Ducker, Philip Atienza and now you've mentioned Emiko and Daniel Wegan amongst others.

Sure, they would like to make a name of their own but there has to be more to that I suppose. I can imagine that the freedom to do what they really want and step out of a house style is an important part of that.

Apologies if I'm making assumptions that shouldn't be made or if I'm stepping in territory that doesn't concern me, not my intention. I'm genuinely curious about it
 

j ingevaldsson

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I don't think many people on here have experience with G&G bespoke other than Poorsod. We are mostly 10 cent millionaires on Style Forum and don't want to pony up that kinda dough.
I have a few pairs, and I'm definitely not a millionaire.. :) But yeah, shoes from the larger British and French bespoke firms cost a lot of money these days.

Maybe I'm reading it the wrong way but isn't it a fact that eventually some of the best shoemakers are abandoning the big houses to go on their own? Philip Atienza, Nicholas Templeman, Dominic Casey, the people at Carré Ducker, Philip Atienza and now you've mentioned Emiko and Daniel Wegan amongst others.

Sure, they would like to make a name of their own but there has to be more to that I suppose. I can imagine that the freedom to do what they really want and step out of a house style is an important part of that.

Apologies if I'm making assumptions that shouldn't be made or if I'm stepping in territory that doesn't concern me, not my intention. I'm genuinely curious about it
It varies the reasons why people are leaving. Some cases it's disappointment with the firms and how things are run there (Templeman and Casey for example, don't think that's a secret), sometimes they want to do new things after being at a place a long time (Atienza went to Massaro after Lobb, so that was from one powerhouse to another, his own brand was started after the years at Massaro, and Wegan has been at G&G 10 years now and want new challenges), sometimes other reasons.
 

Texasmade

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Did Dominic Casey ever work for a well known brand? I thought he was an outerworker that wanted to improve and eventually learned enough to start his own firm.
 

j ingevaldsson

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Did Dominic Casey ever work for a well known brand? I thought he was an outerworker that wanted to improve and eventually learned enough to start his own firm.
He has done lots of things (studied at cordwainers college back in -83, so he's been in the business for a while..), but was a lastmaker at Cleverley for 10 years. Left 2016.
 

dtwb

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Well, here you have a discussion that either arises out of, or revolves around, an issue with a pair of bespoke shoes made by a company whose primary focus is manufacturing (and all that is implied by that--minimizing cost-of-production, maximizing profit, production values inextricably tied to speed, and little or no attention to the individual), and you ask how that company is different from another company which is dedicated to the traditional techniques and preservation of skills and knowledge and quality; whose primary focus is Traditional, handwelted bespoke shoes with an emphasis on the individual...both in terms of the employees and the customer, to the point where each customer's last is stored with his/her name on it...and marginal concern for the time required.

As a question it doesn't make much sense unless the purpose of the question is to obscure the very real (IMO, as a maker) differences.

It goes back to my proposition that it doesn't make sense to order a bespoke shoe from a company for whom Traditional, handwelted, bespoke shoes are an after-thought (or a bone to be thrown to customers looking for something beyond mundane, manufactured quality...whatever that level).

Nor does it make sense to be surprised when problems arise.

It's like trying to drive a screw with a hammer.

In fact, it actually makes more sense to seek out some obscure but dedicated, Traditional, handwelted, bespoke maker, who you've never heard of and give that fellow a chance. In all probability, the prices will be better, the objective quality (if not the finish), might be as good (if not better) and the maker will be focused not just on the quality of the shoe but you as a customer.

Whatever...I think the whole canted backseam and "rocking shoes" can be variously ascribed to karma and "evolution in action". And I deplore the excuses.

But that's just my opinion...as a maker. Take it for what it's worth.

👣
My choice of Cleverley - when I commissioned the shoes in September 2018 - was based on their reputation as a bespoke shoemaking firm; a reputation which, I have since discovered, is based primarily on the work they did years ago, or a 'select' percentage of their current work.
That said, when paying $6000 AUD for a pair of bespoke shoes from an ostensibly reputable company, one doesn't expect quality control problems, even if the company also happen to be involved in RTW production.
The Cleverley decision was also based on logistics: I live in Australia, happened to be in London at the time, and knew Cleverley's trunk show schedule would make the second fitting more convenient.
Knowing what I know now, I would definitely have sought out an independent maker (Templeman, Casey, et al.) Agree with you completely that it makes far more sense, and that your odds of satisfaction are exponentially greater. Ah well. Hindsight is 20/20.

But the discussion here is very useful and informative. Didn't realise Wegan had left Gaziano. Any word on where his new venture will be based, or what it will be?
 

dieworkwear

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There are also a ton of not-so-great independent makers. I think it's just hard to find good work nowadays and the bespoke market, both for shoes and tailoring, is riddled with problems. It's no longer the case that you can just rely on a big firm and their storied history. But the independent market is also full of people who are unreliable or sometimes just not very good at what they do.

Many years ago, there was an independent maker who came through the US, collected deposits, and just never came back -- just took off with people's money. I suppose one thing about a big firm is that at least you won't get robbed like that.
 

j ingevaldsson

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Can Annonay be gotten at all? I was still counting on color #3708 for the brown oxfords I have planned… 😜
My choice of Cleverley - when I commissioned the shoes in September 2018 - was based on their reputation as a bespoke shoemaking firm; a reputation which, I have since discovered, is based primarily on the work they did years ago, or a 'select' percentage of their current work.
That said, when paying $6000 AUD for a pair of bespoke shoes from an ostensibly reputable company, one doesn't expect quality control problems, even if the company also happen to be involved in RTW production.
The Cleverley decision was also based on logistics: I live in Australia, happened to be in London at the time, and knew Cleverley's trunk show schedule would make the second fitting more convenient.
Knowing what I know now, I would definitely have sought out an independent maker (Templeman, Casey, et al.) Agree with you completely that it makes far more sense, and that your odds of satisfaction are exponentially greater. Ah well. Hindsight is 20/20.

But the discussion here is very useful and informative. Didn't realise Wegan had left Gaziano. Any word on where his new venture will be based, or what it will be?
It’s a shame, cause there’s a bunch of great people working at Cleverley’s and doing a great job, and also good outworkers, it’s just that it’s mixed with for example bad outworkers (or not necessarily bad at all times, they do what they know will be enough, and if you just see it as plain old making a living I guess in a way it can be understandable) and a management (if they would stop shoes with quality issues, the makers would know they couldn’t leave off stuff like that) who let the bad shoes through.

It will be revealed in due time what Daniel will do next.

There are also a ton of not-so-great independent makers. I think it's just hard to find good work nowadays and the bespoke market, both for shoes and tailoring, is riddled with problems. It's no longer the case that you can just rely on a big firm and their storied history. But the independent market is also full of people who are unreliable or sometimes just not very good at what they do.

Many years ago, there was an independent maker who came through the US, collected deposits, and just never came back -- just took off with people's money. I suppose one thing about a big firm is that at least you won't get robbed like that.
Sure, there’s both bad and good independent makers, and good and bad large firms. As it always has been. Perhaps with today’s competition and tough reality for this type of businesses, a few more take shortcuts then “back in the days”, but at the same time it’s much easier today to do informative purchases and learn about the different brands out there, thanks to this thing called internet.
 

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