When you’re willing to invest in premium custom shoes, it can quickly become a daunting prospect when faced with all the options available. From different levels of customisation to their cost, manufacturing time, and geographic location, the ordeal can be particularly overwhelming.
In this guide, we’ve created a top 10 list of the Best Men’s Custom Shoe Brands:
- Gaziano Girling, England
- George Cleverley, England
- Antonio Meccariello, Italy
- Aubercy, France
- Stefano Bemer, Italy
- László Vass, Hungary
- John Lobb, England
- John Lobb, France
- Yohei Fukada, Japan
- Hiro Yanagimachi, Japan
You can use the links to jump ahead or scroll down to read more. You can also learn more about the different customisation options and what they entail.
What Are The Best Custom Shoe Brands For Men?
Just after our quick menus below, you will find the top 10 best custom shoe brands around the world. Each were individually researched, contacted, and tested on some occasions. Similarly, they’re featured in no particular order of preference as they each have their own unique identities and characteristics.
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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.
Read More: Gaziano Girling Brand Guide
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 shoes in London.
Their services include ready-to-wear shoes at around $500 up to bespoke 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, their made-to-order shoes 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 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 clients.
There are a number of ready-to-wear and made-to-order ranges with different constructions and pricing. For instance, his Goodyear Argentum line 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.
Meanwhile, a standalone bespoke service is available with prices starting at a surprisingly affordable $2,800. Finally, we were particularly impressed by Meccariello’s made-to-order service, which can be easily completed online thanks to an interactive designer.
A family business since 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 customised using their “commande spéciale” service. Otherwise, their made-to-measure shoes use modified lasts from $1,700 while bespoke shoes with new lasts from scratch start at $5,550.
After their artisan left in 2012, Aubercy experienced a brief hiatus in their bespoke shoemaking. Fortunately, this was reintroduced in 2016 when a new artisan joined the team.
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. As for their bespoke shoes, prices start at $3,000 for the entry Blue service. Overall, this is quite fast 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 brand identity, László Vass is now considered one of the best craftsmen who specialises 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 bespoke 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 bespoke shoes while the Paris store has also ventured into the ready-to-wear market.
Nevertheless, the Paris store still crafts fine footwear and produces a limited quantity of 100 shoes per day in their workshop using Hermès leathers. However, the original 9 St James’s Street shop is the most exclusive and traditional option of the two.
As mentioned above, it’s important to remember that there are two John Lobb houses. Yet despite their differences, both offer exceptional footwear!
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, all their made-to-measure and bespoke shoes 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 is 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. As for the bespoke service, this requires at least 7 months, which includes crafting the wooden last from scratch.
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 bespoke service is only available in the Armoury’s Hong Kong stores.
Horiyuki Yanagimachi is a graduate of London’s Cordwainers College. He first established his brand in 1999 as a designer but his passion for shoe-making soon drew him towards crafting bespoke footwear.
His open workshop in Tokyo consists of only seven Japanese artisans of which five craft shoes while the remaining two work on other leather goods and accessories.
What’s The Difference Between Bespoke, MTM, & MTO?
When discussing or shopping for custom shoes, 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 with their own.
As hinted above, custom shoe-making can be divided into the three following categories:
In this guide, we’ll briefly compare the three distinctive types of custom shoes. Scroll down to read about them all or use the links above to easily jump ahead. If you want to learn more about each particular technique and see the best options, simply head to their dedicated guides that will be linked below.
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 customisation, made-to-order is essentially a service that allows you to customise a shoe’s design 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 select their own leathers, colours, ornamentation, as well as the construction of the shoes.
The level of customisation available varies with every brand with some also offering different styles of outsoles as well as monogramming and stitch colours.
Depending on the materials and construction techniques as well as the brand itself, prices for made-to-order shoes 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 shoe fits cannot be personalised 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 consider one of the other two options.
Although an entry-level custom shoe, made-to-order shouldn’t be overlooked. After all, it still provides you with a unique, one-of-a-kind shoe that’s crafted by skilled artisans.
Read More: What Are Made-to-Order Custom Shoes?
Made-To-Measure Custom Shoes
Also known as semi-bespoke, made-to-measure is a more affordable custom shoe service that offers a personalised 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. The result is an improved and more tailored fit.
Consequently, the turnaround time is also somewhat shorter than bespoke shoes as a personalised last doesn’t need to be made from scratch.
Strangely enough, made-to-measure shoes are somewhat rarer than either made-to-order or bespoke footwear. Furthermore, it tends to be offered by bespoke 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 given that bespoke shoes tend to start at around $5,000.
Read More: What Are Made-to-Measure Shoes?
Bespoke Custom Shoes
When people talk about custom shoes, they’re usually thinking about bespoke footwear. A celebrated example of traditional craftsmanship, bespoke shoe-making’s reputation is well-earned.
A labour-intensive and meticulous art-form, the process begins by taking accurate measurements of the client’s feet. Once they are drawn up, a wooden last is crafted specifically for their feet.
Furthermore, a bespoke shoemaker will always keep these lasts in their workshop for future orders. Once it has been created, the client can simply place new orders by email or telephone in the future. This why buying your first pair of bespoke shoes is always more expensive than future orders.
The shoemaker will then proceed with the pattern cutting and clicking, closing, making, and finishing. However, this is first performed on an undecorated copy of the shoe with cheaper leathers in order to test the fit.
After the fit has been approved by the client, the final shoe is produced. From this point onwards, the turnaround time will usually be about the same as typical made-to-order shoes.
Read More: What Are Bespoke Custom shoes?
Now that you have read about the best custom shoe brands and the different techniques, feel free to explore our other related guides:
- Most Comfortable Dress Shoes For Men
- Best Italian Shoes To Buy Online
- Top 10 English Shoes To Buy Online
- Best Made-To-Order Shoes To Buy Online
- Bespoke Unit Shoe Homepage
"Some exceptional shoe brands here. What I love the most about this guide is that it the list includes different prices, countries and types of customisation."Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★