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soto_nw

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If you're in NYC, why not just use Nicholas Templeman when he returns? Of all the bespoke makers I've worked with, he's been the best. The prices are fair, the quality of the make is top-notch, and he's extremely flexible in terms of what's he's able to make. I've ordered three pairs from so far and they've each been pretty different. He'll work with you to get the exact toe shape you want, stitching style, etc.

The best thing is that he's willing to take it upon himself to fix whatever he sees wrong. Two friends of mine have told me that, after they received their shoes, NIcholas saw something wrong on their pairs later and, unprompted, asked for the shoes back so he could fix some issue. You rarely, if ever, hear of that nowadays. I don't know why it should be the client's job to read all this stuff. Part of the point of going to a bespoke maker is that you're relying on someone's expertise, not become some internet expert yourself. Nice thing about working with an honest maker like this is that they'll fix what they see wrong.

My shoes so far:

View attachment 1460670

My first pair of split toes

View attachment 1460671

A much rounder pair of split toes.


View attachment 1460673
View attachment 1460672
View attachment 1460674
View attachment 1460676

A recent pair of black side zips.

I'm sure whatever you want, he can make.

Ahhh, Nicholas Templeman remains one of my grail shoemakers whenever I can afford bespoke, have heard only great things. Nicholas and Ramon Cuberta are two folks who's work catch my attention and both seem to have a great personality (Nicholas' personality comes through via his Insta and on here, and Ramon was super kind when I met him last and we had a one hour conversation).

Though I'd still like to try higher end RTW first to have a better sense of what the highest tier of shoes should feel like (like G&G and EG).

Francis Waplinger has also started catching my eye as well, but Nicholas and Ramon are the first two I'd consider when the day comes.
 

dieworkwear

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I'd be interested in trying Role Club, but not sure I'd want to drive down to Los Angeles just to buy a pair of shoes.




I originally tried to get black side zips from Sebastian Tarek, but we couldn't coordinate in terms of location. He was visiting NYC for a short period, and thought about coming to San Francisco, but it just didn't work out.




For "dress shoes," I don't have much desire to try anyone new. But Emiko Matsuda and Daniel Wegan's Instagrams look nice. I also like the stuff that Koji has made for Mark Cho. I think I'm going to get a pair of tassel loafers from Nicholas at some point.



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For the kind of shoes I want, I'm not sure if there's a "house style" in the way tailoring houses have a house style. Like, you probably don't want to go to Steed and ask for a Liverano jacket. The construction is different and they're used to cutting a silhouette a certain way. But I don't know why you wouldn't be able to ask a skilled last maker to make his or her version of a sleeker last, rounded last, chiseled last, etc. If you see some detail you like, I don't see why you just can't get that from someone who's flexible and skilled in what they do, assuming it's in the ballpark of what they normaly make.
 

ThunderMarch

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In terms of shoemaking per se, I think it's pretty hard (especially these days) to say "Italian" or "Japanese" or "Chinese". Simply because it's not easy to find a unifying characteristic or style to define a particular group of makers, apart from geographic. I think everyone is influenced by everyone.

As far as "custom" shoes go, I actually opt for MTOs, or MTMs, as far as possible. This might not work for everyone, but I do so mainly because.

1. After having tried numerous makers, I've found that I fit pretty well in RTW lasts (ie, I have pretty "easy feet" so to speak). This translates well to an MTO system on standard lasts, if the maker has this option available.

2. Bespoke orders are very time and effort consuming. You have to wait for the fitting, you have to travel for the fitting. And the process needs to be repeated if the maker deems it necessary to have two fittings. More time and money spent for him, more time and money spent for me.

3. "Bespoke" experiences can be quite inhomogenous. Between different makers, and between different customers of the same maker. A very good maker might not be a very good fitter, or a very good fitter might somehow struggle with that one customer, on a bad day/s, and be deemed as a "shit" fitter. A standard last that fits reasonably well to me, bypasses all this. So I can just look at how well the shoes are made.

4. Going bespoke might not guarantee a completely satisfactory fit. For either of you. A customer's head and feet BOTH need to be fitted. So language may sometimes be an issue here. Sometimes, I don't see a very big improvement in fit for my bespoke shoes, compared to a standard last. Sometimes it can even go the other way.

5. I am not a stickler for fit.

6. I'm mainly concerned with how well the shoes are made, and the skill and attention to detail of the shoemaker. I have shoes that I've bought and decided not to wear, simply because I just want to keep them unworn and admire them from time to time. This is my fetish and mine alone. Nobody else needs to agree with this. There, I've said it.

Pertaining to Chinese makers specifically, I've had some interactions with them, yes.

I think it helps that I speak Mandarin, so I guess they are more receptive towards someone who can talk shoes in their native language. Yim, for one, really struggles with English speaking customers, so a lot of messages go unanswered.

Amongst the Chinese makers, the bunch of them are quite diverse, but there are probably a few distinct groups:

1. Large factory, very much industrial. Putting out hundreds of pairs a week. Mattina being one of them. Blake, Goodyear, HW are construction options with a more or less standard (and fairly basic but decent) finish across all lines. Mostly RTW and OEM.

2. Smaller scale factory-ish / workshop-ish makers with smaller volume. Partly mechanised processes like machined outsole stitching, machine lasting (though handlasting can also be done), with some finishing processes done by hand. With also a variety of construction options, handwelting being one of them as well. I have the most experience with Gordon in this area. Have a pair from Xibao. Primary MO may be RTW or MTO. Their work falls somewhere between group 1 and group 3. You could consider these makers if you are thinking of something with a little extra oomph. You might liken them to a Chinese AM?

3. Small group makers, small teams of around 10 or less, focusing mainly on fully handmade shoes. Handlasting, handwelting, and hand stitched outsoles, with all the finishing processes done by hand, with maybe the exception of a buffing machine. They are aiming for bespoke shoe specs, but typically on standard lasts. Yim, Acme, Yearn would be in this group. Primary MO would be MTO or sometimes MTM. But Acme also does bespoke (add on the fitting process) and small volume RTWs made to the same specs. You could probably fit 火猫 (Flame) here, but he's a workboot guy so it's outside the dress shoe realm. I have a pair from him which was nicely made, for workboots.

4. Bespoke makers. Probably the one with the most visibility is Lu. And now Acme. Zhao Ruoda is also primarily a bespoke maker, with very good skills, but at the moment is busy with his work managing Mattina. So his bespoke stuff is on a temporary hiatus. This is basically group 3 plus the whole measuring and fitting process.

What I can say about the Chinese shoemaking community as a whole is that....

1. It's still fairly young. A lot of the makers are still in the process of defining and refining their work processes. A lot of them are also learning along the way. I'm constantly hearing, "I'm changing this", "I'm changing that", "I'm changing my lasts", "I'm going to do this differently from your previous pair". I think it's just part of them trying to grow and find their own niche.
Post WW2, Japanese craft and goods were shunned and thought of as poor quality. Look at them now.
In the words of Marty McFly, "What are you talking about Doc? All the best stuff comes from Japan."

2. These guys are really quite driven. I think they do take a lot of cues from Western and Japanese shoemaking. So you do see a lot of the "beveled and fiddlebacked waist" look. But it's all really pretty flexible. A maker who can execute a beveled waist can also execute an open waist. A maker who can execute a fiddlebacked waist can also do a round or flat waist bottom finish. Less work for them, in fact. It's just a matter of communicating what you want.

3. They do have good skills. While a good number of them don't really have any formal training in shoemaking schools, a lot of them learn through apprenticeship and on-the-job training. Some have really good intuition and skills. Yim for example, is a maker who improved and evolved over a really short period of time. In general, I think they'll only just get better with time.

4. Their main limitation, imo, is getting a steady supply of good materials. Most of them get their upper leathers through middlemen / small leather merchants. Same for insoles, outsoles, heel lifts, lining leather. While they mostly know which tanneries are favoured (or at least more famous) amongst the shoegoing clientele (Annonay, DuPuy, Ilcea, Weinheimer, CFS, Zonta, Horween etc), I have a feeling that the supply can be erratic, and not all of it may be Grade A. Coupled with inherent seasonal variations in the leather quality from the same tannery, and high import taxes, this could be a tricky issue. Their local leathers, apparently, still have some catching up to do.

So. That's all I have to say. I shan't be posting any further. So drop me a DM on IG if you need to discuss things further.
 

ecwy

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Please tell me you are not one of those loser online people that read online rather than be an independent individual

Most people that read just online have no friends and no wife Hahahaha

I hope that's not you
Well considering you replied to me in 16 mins time after I posted, you should really answer that question.
 

ecwy

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@ecwy

yup, Yohei Fukuda (so should be YF not sure what brain fart I did). Yup, I checked in with TM from time to time on IG, will definitely defer his expertise, though given if I visit China it would be Hangzhou + Shanghai at most, so it will probably just be limited to options around there.

On GC, I'm not sure I could persuade myself. The comment here are based on clients, which are amusing to say the least (even screenshot aside). The one really struck me was the part about how one has to be able to push back, otherwise GC walks over the client. I can't see any reason why client should be treat this way.
I have seen enough GC pairs in real life to not consider them. To be clear, I would never personally recommend them to anyone. If you set aside the brand and evaluate the making for what it is then it's an easy decision. The GC comment wasn't directed at you but at dww who is now complaining non stop about GC's quality but back then in the leather quality thread was making statements that "quality should be apparent" and we shouldn't focus on the technical aspects. LOL.

IMO when you look at bespoke makers in Europe (and maybe in particular UK), a lot of work is done by outworkers. And go figure out how many of them are Japanese. I have 2 orders with German based makers. One is with Patrick Frei who I think does everything himself but now has a Japanese co-worker/apprentice of sorts who previously learnt and trained with Eiji Murata san. Another order is with Ryota Hayafuji san who does outwork for Foster and Son. Does the nationality of the maker matter as long as they make a good product? Most bespoke makers will be able to make anything you ask them to. The perception that Chinese makers are of poorer quality is false from the stuff TM shows me.

I have tried a few smaller, lesser known Japanese makers and the work is also of a very good standard. If you ask me, the main difference is how much experience they have in fitting and the price reflects this. I personally think that the Japanese makers are more in focus because they combine good standard of work plus the price is much more competitive than most traditional European makers. Why pay 6k pounds for a Japanese outworker when I can get a Japanese maker at half the price or less?

Ultimately, I would personally recommend to get your bespoke order done with makers that travel to you unless you are very sure you will be able to go to them several times for fitting/collection etc. I am based in Asia so logistically I have a bias for Asian makers. The logistics really get to you after a while especially if you are juggling multiple orders. It was actually good to have Covid kind of put a stop to any new orders and I can focus on completing orders instead.
 

dieworkwear

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I have seen enough GC pairs in real life to not consider them. To be clear, I would never personally recommend them to anyone. If you set aside the brand and evaluate the making for what it is then it's an easy decision. The GC comment wasn't directed at you but at dww who is now complaining non stop about GC's quality but back then in the leather quality thread was making statements that "quality should be apparent" and we shouldn't focus on the technical aspects. LOL.
I don't understand how these positions are at odds with one another. I still think that people should trust the people they've hired to make them things. And that, once you receive the item, the quality of that item should be apparent. The quality of my GC shoes were pretty apparent when I received them. So was the quality of my Templeman shoes.

I'm sure a Chinese person can make technically good shoes. I just don't care for the aesthetics.
 

DWFII

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My opinion:
It was amusing when the screenshots first popped up but it got old really fast. And now what was once a beautiful, informative thread is clogged full of lame jokes and useless posts.
Call it what it is--petty gossip. And personal vendetta.
 

Bromley

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@dieworkwear When do you find yourself reaching for the narrow vs. rounder split toe? Was your second split toe order an attempt to improve upon the first, or were you looking for something with a different overall style?
 

dieworkwear

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@dieworkwear When do you find yourself reaching for the narrow vs. rounder split toe? Was your second split toe order an attempt to improve upon the first, or were you looking for something with a different overall style?
I wanted a rounder pair of split toes because I wanted something more casual. I really like JM Weston Hunt Derby, but when I tried them on in the store, they felt way too big and bulky. They just weren't practical for what I wear.

dc2b8e7be842008833ee8b89fd81bfbc.jpg



So I had these made from a slightly thinner leather than the Hunt Derby and without the Norwegian welt. I also asked for a bellow tongue (can't remember if that's also a detail on the Hunt Derby).

For some reason, the sole here looks like it's a single sole, but it's a double.


tumblr_inline_p7nmvlNKzJ1qfex1b_540.jpg

tumblr_inline_p7nnf5jdQi1qfex1b_540.jpg



One of the challenges was replicating the bumpy stitching on the Hunt Derby's apron. I'm told it's made using a flat seam, where two pieces of leather are butted up against each other and then connected through a U-shaped stitch. Since the leather sits end-to-end, you don't get that lip that forms on a raised lake


26956971701_64570687e8_b.jpg



When Nicholas tried to replicate the apron, the leather kept splitting because the leather is too thin. If we went with a thicker leather, we'd be back at the chunky silhouette that I wanted to avoid.

Nicholas' solution was to create a wholecut derby and then just make a decorative apron. The very subtle line you see at the top of the apron isn't actually an indication of two pieces of leather, but rather a score in the leather.


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I wear them with casualwear and tailoring, whereas as I only wear the sleeker split toes with sport coats. I think these work with things like tweed sport coats and trousers in whiprcord or calvary twill. But they also work with jeans and chinos. Wearing them today with Stevenson Overall jeans, an RRL flannel, and a chore coat.
 

patrickBOOTH

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If you're in NYC, why not just use Nicholas Templeman when he returns? Of all the bespoke makers I've worked with, he's been the best. The prices are fair, the quality of the make is top-notch, and he's extremely flexible in terms of what's he's able to make. I've ordered three pairs from so far and they've each been pretty different. He'll work with you to get the exact toe shape you want, stitching style, etc.

The best thing is that he's willing to take it upon himself to fix whatever he sees wrong. Two friends of mine have told me that, after they received their shoes, NIcholas saw something wrong on their pairs later and, unprompted, asked for the shoes back so he could fix some issue. You rarely, if ever, hear of that nowadays. I don't know why it should be the client's job to read all this stuff. Part of the point of going to a bespoke maker is that you're relying on someone's expertise, not become some internet expert yourself. Nice thing about working with an honest maker like this is that they'll fix what they see wrong.

My shoes so far:

View attachment 1460670

My first pair of split toes

View attachment 1460671

A much rounder pair of split toes.


View attachment 1460673
View attachment 1460672
View attachment 1460674
View attachment 1460676

A recent pair of black side zips.

I'm sure whatever you want, he can make.
You left out that he only makes shoes for the inner-circle though.
 

willyto

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@dieworkwear do you have any pictures of the shoes being worn? I don't think you've actually shared them before once worn. Would be interesting to see them in action.
 

bjhofkin

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I continue to be baffled by this. You write about this stuff for a living, Brian represents – in the U.S. – a completely unique combo of aesthetics and business model and is a great guy and a GREAT story, and his boots are terrific (especially at that price point).

Get in the car and take a nice, socially distanced, masked road trip down through Big Sur and Paso Robles! :cheers:

And by the way my first pair from Brian was a very good fit even though we did it remotely. Try his chukka for something versatile yet clearly workwear-oriented.

Back to Flame Panda for a minute. Most of his service/derby boots are a bit chunky for my taste (although these look on point) – but his monkey boot is phenomenal and the moc-toe is absolutely OUTRAGEOUS. And I was able to get a pretty great fit with him just through Instagram. Not as precise as with Nicholas, obviously, but very good.

I'd be interested in trying Role Club, but not sure I'd want to drive down to Los Angeles just to buy a pair of shoes.
 

dieworkwear

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I continue to be baffled by this. You write about this stuff for a living, Brian represents – in the U.S. – a completely unique combo of aesthetics and business model and is a great guy and a GREAT story, and his boots are terrific (especially at that price point).

Get in the car and take a nice, socially distanced, masked road trip down through Big Sur and Paso Robles! :cheers:

And by the way my first pair from Brian was a very good fit even though we did it remotely. Try his chukka for something versatile yet clearly workwear-oriented.

Back to Flame Panda for a minute. Most of his service/derby boots are a bit chunky for my taste (although these look on point) – but his monkey boot is phenomenal and the moc-toe is absolutely OUTRAGEOUS. And I was able to get a pretty great fit with him just through Instagram. Not as precise as with Nicholas, obviously, but very good.
Yea, I saw that he takes remote orders, but felt a bit iffy about that. Good to know it's worked out for people. I might end up doing it.
 

Bromley

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I don't know if it's like this for other people, but I find that my feelings toward my own personal objects and clothes remain deeply connected to the experience I had obtaining them-- good or bad. I have some clothes that fit poorly, but that I particularly enjoy wearing because however I got them is a fond memory. Likewise, I have some beautiful Saint Crispin's shoes that I don't really like wearing because they always remind of the unpleasant trunk show experience that led to the purchase. For something that feels like it should be special, I think it adds a lot to make the experience special, too. Anyway, you should definitely drive to LA for those boots.
 

dauster

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I don't know if it's like this for other people, but I find that my feelings toward my own personal objects and clothes remain deeply connected to the experience I had obtaining them-- good or bad. I have some clothes that fit poorly, but that I particularly enjoy wearing because however I got them is a fond memory. Likewise, I have some beautiful Saint Crispin's shoes that I don't really like wearing because they always remind of the unpleasant trunk show experience that led to the purchase. For something that feels like it should be special, I think it adds a lot to make the experience special, too. Anyway, you should definitely drive to LA for those boots.
Maybe to a certain degree. if the clothes end up being great and a terrible experience came with it I don't really mind in the long-term, but I am big on getting a good buying experience and get disappointed by high priced bespoke and usually they have let me down so far... but I feel you:)
 

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