During my recent trip to England, Craig and I had the opportunity to arrange a meeting with Justin Fitzpatrick, The Shoe Snob. As a man with nearly 50 pairs of shoes, both high end and low, I was very interested in meeting the man behind one of the web’s leading men’s shoe blogs. Not to mention the fact that he’s currently located in Gieves & Hawkes at 1 Savile Row (although he’s about to move to Timothy Everest at 32 Elver St).
On a personal note, it’s my goal this year to focus on quality over quantity. I finally own a fairly well-developed wardrobe, now it’s time to focus on well-made key pieces. Where better to start than on the ground, and work my way up?
The Shoe Snob Journey
During our meeting, it became apparent that Justin’s life thus far has been an extraordinary journey, a fact that doesn’t quite come through on his blog. Try hard not to get wrapped up in the romanticism of it all…
Justin Fitzpatrick grew up in Seattle, Washington, but eventually traveled to Italy to study under a master shoemaker, learning like an apprentice of old. In Italy, Justin met the love of his life (now wife, and mother to his young child). The couple moved to London for her work, a perfect destination for Justin as it gave him access to London. Each day, he would commute two hours to and from London, to shine shoes at Gieves & Hawkes on Savile Row. He did not let this time go to waste, but filled countless note books on the train with designs of men’s shoes. An active participant on StyleForum.net shoe pages, Justin was quickly recognized as an authority on all things men’s shoes. Which led to the development and prominence of The Shoe Snob blog.
Now, after seven years of effort, Justin has launched his own line of men’s footwear, combining the finest traditional construction methods with a modern sensibility.
The Shoe Snob Today
We met Justin at a time of flux. He was six months into the launch of his own shoe line, and preparing to leave his current post at Gieves’, and head over to Timothy Everest. He gets well over 100 thousand hits on his blog every month, and answers every question personally. Not to mention a new born baby. Justin Fitzpatrick is one busy chap!
Justin describes his shoes as “classic at heart with a modern twist”. Each shoe is molded on a last based off Justin’s own foot, which is very narrow so was “graded” up to become a last for the average foot. The last was made in the classic “bespoke” style, having more contours than “off the rack” shoes like those of Churches or Allen Edmonds. This makes the shoe more comfortable, but only to the man with an “average” foot. Justin’s shoes just won’t fit someone, like myself, with a 13EEE (US). This was a conscious decision on Justin’s part, to stay true to what he believes in, and build a loyal customer base. He told us of one Texan judge who just ordered seven additional pairs! Hopefully one day, Justin will be able produce 13EEE shoes and remain economically viable! One can always hope.
His commitment to quality is further shown by what’s included with each pair of shoes: shoe horn, shoe bags, and spear laces. For a £300 ($480) shoe, that’s impressive, and hopefully a thoughtful touch that will keep people committed to his brand. In addition, Justin carries his own line of shoe cleaning and polishing supplies.
How To Shine Shoes
Justin was kind enough to give us a quick overview of his shoe shining technique. The following video details his process, which is designed to achieve a “military” shine.
The Shoe Snob’s Future
The ultimate goal for Justin is to “see men wearing better shoes”.
He’s leaving Gieves & Hawkes soon and relocating to Timothy Everest at 32 Elder Street (near Spitalfields Market). Not only that but his website is going to encompass more ecommerce functionality, beyond the current ‘blog specials” and shoe accessories. As far as his shoe brand is concerned, Justin aspires to a global reach, with footwear in both physical locations and online.
Meeting Justin was a true pleasure. His passion for shoes is evident, and embodied by his incredible journey. Justin’s story expresses one of my fundamental beliefs about menswear, that one’s own style is an ever-evolving journey. It was cool to see that mirrored in a fledgling business.
Contact & Social Info:
Address: Timothy Everest, 32 Elder St, London
YouTube: Justin Fitzpatrick YouTube