The Best Custom Men’s Shoes And The Different Custom-Made Footwear Services
The Best Custom Men’s Shoes And The Different Custom-Made Footwear ServicesCharles-Philippe2022-01-30T14:35:26-05:00
When you’re willing to invest in premium custom shoes for your wardrobe, it can quickly become a daunting prospect when faced with all the options available. From different levels of customization to their price, manufacturing time, and geographic location, the ordeal can be particularly overwhelming.
Just after our quick menus below, you will find some of the best custom shoe brands from around the world. Each was individually researched, contacted, and tested on some occasions. Similarly, they’re featured in no particular order of preference or price as they each have their own unique identities and characteristics.
Arguably, Idrese is quite different from the other brands featured on this site. However, it illustrates the diversity of the custom-made market. When Jawad Malik founded Idrese, his endeavor was to create an affordable but high-quality experience.
As a result, you can purchase your own pair of Spanish-made, Goodyear-welted shoes for less than $300. Crafted from full-grain leather, Idrese shoes are produced in Almansa, Spain, and you use Idrese’s website to design and customize your own shoe.
Although it’s a digital made-to-order process, there is a wide range of sizes and widths, which will cater to most people. For those with smaller budgets who want to taste the luxury of ordering a custom shoe, it’s a great place to start!
Having worked with premium English shoe makers including Joseph Cheaney, Cleverley, and Edward Green both Tony Gaziano and Dean Girling have over 25 years of experience in the industry. In 2006, they founded their own brand, which is based in Kettering near Northampton, England.
Today, Gaziano Girling produces some of the most exclusive and exquisite benchmade shoes. Furthermore, they offer a range of services including bespoke, made-to-order, and ready-to-wear shoes.
For bespoke shoes, clients should expect between 12 to 16 months until the shoes are ready. Meanwhile, a pair of made-to-order shoes will take between 3 to 4 months.
Founded in 1958 by George Cleverley, his titular store remains a family business in London today and is managed by George Glasgow Snr and George Glasgow Jr. Unlike most English shoemakers, George Cleverley is one of the few remaining brands that continues to craft its handmade shoes in London.
Their services range from a ready-to-wear design starting at around $500 to entirely personalized and handmade shoes from approximately $5,000. The process for the latter will take between 9 to 12 months with the fitting taking place after 6 or 8 months.
Meanwhile, a made-to-order style can cost as little as $900 while made-to-measure shoes using an adjusted last start at $1,900. Both of these options may take between 4 to 6 months to complete.
Interestingly, George Cleverley is a renowned brand with a history in Hollywood. Most famously, they provided the shoes worn in both Kingsman films as well as the 2019 Elton John biopic, Rocketman.
A lesser-known but exceedingly talented Italian craftsman, Antonio Meccariello was born into shoemaking. Two years after launching Kiton in partnership with Ciro Paone and Antonio de Matteis, he sold his shares in order to focus on his own workshop and customers.
There are a number of ready-to-wear and made-to-order ranges with different constructions and pricing. For instance, should you choose the Goodyear Argentum line, it is available in both ready-to-wear and made-to-order. For the latter, you can expect a turnaround time of between 18 to 20 weeks.
We were particularly impressed by Meccariello’s made-to-order service, which can be easily completed online thanks to an interactive design tool.
A family business with a history tracing back to 1935, Aubercy is today run by the founders’ grandson, Xavier. Every shoe is crafted using a hand-sewn welt to create sleek and elegant footwear.
Their ready-to-wear collections start at around $1,200 and can be customized using their “commande spéciale” service. Otherwise, their made-to-measure shoes use modified lasts from $1,700. Lastly, the higher end of their handmade style offering involves creating new lasts from scratch and starts at $5,550.
The Last Shoemaker is actually a duo that consists of Scotsman Allan Donnelly and US-born Yorkshireman Payson Muller. They teamed up after meeting at Steven Lowe and Dominic Casey’s bespoke shoe last making course at Lastmaker House.
It’s Payson that focuses on the last-making whereas Allan’s specialty is the design and crafting of the uppers. Payson will then hand-sew the soles before clients get to try the shoes.
The Last Shoemaker offers a variety of services from ready-to-wear shoes to customizable made-to-order footwear as well as more premium options. The duo also has other interesting offerings such as their sleek minimalist “barefoot shoes” and even the opportunity to recycle your old (leather) sofa into footwear!
Although they operate from their workshop just outside of York, Allan and Payson also frequently attend trunk shows throughout the USA.
Stefano Bemer founded his company and workshop in 1983. His high level of quality and refined footwear soon garnered quite a reputation in Florence and abroad.
Additionally, he was known as an excellent mentor and trained many talented shoemakers in his craft as well as celebrities including Daniel Day-Lewis. Sadly, Bemer passed away in 2012. However, the company was picked up by Tommaso Melani who continues to carry his vision onwards and upwards.
Firstly, their made-to-order shoes start at an affordable price of around $750 and the process takes between 8 to 10 weeks. Their entry Blue service, which offers customers a much more tailor-made pair of shoes, starts at $3,000 and can take about 5 months if only a single refitting is necessary.
Finally, Stefano Bemer still offers exclusive training and workshops for keen shoe enthusiasts. Thanks to their courses, you can start as an apprentice and work all the way up to their “maestro” level.
Starting as a traditional Austro-Hungarian shoemaker, Vass first opened his shop in 1978. As he garnered a reputation for his immaculate craftsmanship, he began venturing into more contemporary designs.
In 1999, Vass received critical acclaim and international recognition when he released his book, Handmade Shoes For Men. Having established a veritable identity, László Vass is now considered one of the best craftsmen who specialize in exotic leathers and unique designs.
Firstly, it’s important to distinguish between John Lobb Ltd and John Lobb SAS. In 1866, John Lobb first opened his London shop where he would produce exclusive footwear for European royalty. Thanks to its enormous success, he launched a Paris boutique in 1901.
In 1976, the Paris shop was acquired by the Hermès group with permission to keep the name. Meanwhile, the London shop continues to be owned and operated by the Lobb family. Additionally, the London shop only produces custom-fit shoes while the Paris store has also ventured into the ready-to-wear market.
Although John Lobb in Paris was acquired by Hermès, it is not their exclusive supplier for leather. While their exotic skins are supplied by Hermès, others are sourced through their own special references.
John Lobb’s Goodyear-welted ready-to-wear collection is crafted in Northampton, England. Meanwhile, options such as made-to-measure and above are made in their own Paris workshop.
As they are handmade, they aren’t constructed using a Goodyear welt but can be crafted using a dizzying array of stitch types that are selected by the client.
Finally, the process for made-to-order shoes will take around 4 months and costs only a 208€ supplement to the ready-to-wear base model’s price.
Trained in London by John Lobb, Gaziano Girling, and George Cleverley, Yohei Fukuda now works exclusively for The Armoury, the celebrated international haberdashery from Hong Kong.
His made-to-order service is also available in their boutique in New York. However, the premium custom-made service is only available in The Armoury’s Hong Kong stores.
A Unique Pair: The Different Degrees Of Custom Men’s Shoes
When discussing or shopping for a custom-made design, it’s important to keep in mind that there are several services that can be defined as such. While they are indeed related in the sense that the result is a one-of-a-kind shoe, they are each quite different from their own.
As hinted above, custom shoe-making can be divided into the three following categories:
In this guide, we’ll briefly compare these distinctive types of custom shoes. Scroll down to read about them all or use the links above to easily jump ahead.
Furthermore, you may have come across the abbreviations MTM and MTO in the entries above as well as the heading. However, this is quite common in the industry and worth keeping in mind when shopping for custom footwear.
Made-to-Order Custom Shoes
The most basic and accessible approach to shoe customization, made-to-order is essentially a service that allows you to design a shoe’s style and details to your own taste.
In short, made-to-order shoes are often available using the artisan’s lasts and their sizes. Once these have both been chosen, a client can then choose their own leathers, colors, ornamentation, as well as the construction of the shoes.
The level of customization available varies with every brand. Some offer different styles of outsoles, stitch colors, and will even heed a monogramming request.
Depending on the materials, fabrics, and construction techniques as well as the craftsman themselves, prices for a made-to-order design can start at around $600. Similarly, the turnaround time for producing a pair will usually be a matter of weeks as opposed to months with the more premium services.
However, the way the completed pair fits cannot be personalized to cater to your own feet outside of the last and sizing. Therefore, if you’re looking for a tailored fit, you’ll have to choose one of the other two options.
Although an entry-level custom shoe, a made-to-order design shouldn’t be overlooked. After all, it still provides you with unique, one-of-a-kind footwear that’s crafted by skilled artisans.
Also known as semi-bespoke, made-to-measure is a more affordable custom shoe service that offers a personalized fit. Like the made-to-order process, clients are able to essentially design their own shoe in terms of materials, construction, and appearance.
Rather than create a unique last for the client, the maker will instead work with them to select the best-fitting one as well as the closest size. The last used is then adjusted in the workshop to take into account any particular needs. This process tailors the shoe and results in an improved fit.
Consequently, the turnaround time is also somewhat shorter since a personalized last doesn’t need to be made from scratch.
Strangely enough, made-to-measure shoes are somewhat rarer than other types of custom footwear. Furthermore, it tends to be offered by shoemakers that are particularly premium.
Therefore, made-to-measure could be proposed as an affordable halfway point given that their prices average around $2,800 with higher-end options generally starting around $5,000.
When people talk about custom shoes, they’re usually thinking about bespoke footwear. A first-class (and swanky) option, we’ve written all about this service in an extensive guide that can be explored by navigating to the “Read More” link below.