Gaziano Girling’s History
Despite being a relatively young company in the English shoemaking market, Gaziano Girling has a long and rich history. Its story arguably begins when Tony Gaziano first started working in the shoe industry with Cheaney.
As a trained architect, Tony’s knowledge of the shoemaking process was relatively limited. However, he naturally excelled at designing and developing new visual concepts. While working with Cheaney, he developed designs for fashion brands such as Jeffrey West and Paul Smith.
Both his passion for shoemaking grew some years later when working for Edward Green. During this period, he explored the traditionally English manufacturing process.
Through Edward Green, Tony learned about high-end quality rather than fashion trends. With his passion and knowledge now refined with a firm foundation, he moved to Cleverley to learn more about bespoke shoemaking.
Starting as an apprentice, Tony climbed up the ladder until he managed the bespoke workshop. With Cleverley, he learned about all the process for making a bespoke shoe including how to make lasts and uppers as well as clicking, and stitching.
During this period, Tony also met Dean Girling. Unlike Tony, Dean was born into shoemaking and his father owned a shoe shop in Norwich.
Following the Cordwainers London shoemaking course, Dean worked as a freelance bespoke craftsman for prestigious brands including Cleverley and John Lobb.
Founding Gazinao & Girling
Dean Girling & Tony Gaziano
When Edward Green sought to start their own bespoke shoe service, they approached Tony Gaziano. After having worked at Cleverley for 7 years at this point, Tony decided for a change. Consequently, he spent two years developing their bespoke department.
Having seen Dean’s craftsmanship firsthand at Cleverley, Tony asked him to work for Edward Green as a freelancer.
It was during this time that Tony and Dean developed their relationship. They were both of the same mind that traditional English brands were often stringently conservative.
Consequently, Tony wanted to experiment with English shoe designs and their contours. Meanwhile, Dean craved to make shoes for his own brand. With their combined skills and expertise, they both realised that joining forces was the most logical step forward.
After all, Tony knew what the shoes needed to look like while Dean knew how to make them. Therefore, in 2006, they launched Gaziano Girling together.
Gaziano Girling’s Philosophy
Dean and Tony’s vision for Gaziano Girling is deeply rooted in the fundamental desire to offer the utmost quality of shoe that exudes a bespoke finish and appearance.
With their bespoke shoes, they seek to craft veritable works of art that push ornamental boundaries to the extent that they can be admired even when unworn.
For instance, Gaziano Girling were the first shoemakers to introduce a fiddle waist on benchmade shoes. Until then, this was solely a bespoke feature offered by select brands.
Indeed, the fiddle waist has become a more common detail in recent years. However, it is but one example of many other features on that had not been seen elsewhere on ready-to-wear shoes until Gaziano Girling introduced them.
Fiddle Sole [Left], Normal Sole [Right]
This vision has not wavered over the brand’s rich 12-year history. Today, Gaziano Girling continues to provide the most premium quality by using only the best leathers and expert craftsmen.
How To Order From Gaziano Girling
As we explained in the introduction, Gaziano Girling offer a number of services to their clients depending on the shoe that they seek. In this section of our guide, we explain each of their services as well as the benefits that they offer:
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Easily available from either their website or in their Savile Row boutique, Gaziano Girling host a plethora of ready-to-wear shoes. Starting at £900 ($1,200) excluding VAT, their ready-to-wear shoes offer the same level of quality that you can expect from the made-to-order range.
As you will learn later, the manufacturing process is essentially the same. Benchmade in the their Kettering workshop by the same expert craftsmen, they are given just as much meticulous attention to detail and quality.
New seasonal lines are regularly introduced. However, the brand will offer the same classic ranges throughout the year, which have enjoyed a consistent level of popularity.
While they come without wooden trees, you can order English-made ones that are hand-lasted to the shoes.
Gaziano Girling’s most popular service, the brand offers more than one hundred different styles. Clients can then personalise their shoes to their heart’s content as well as choose the most comfortable size and width. Seven different widths are available and Gaziano Girling work to half sizes.
As well as the leather and the colour, the client can select from a number of toe shapes and soles. Seven different toe shapes and a variety of lasts are available to truly determine the shape of the shoe.
The choice of last greatly determines the resulting shape of the shoe, which offers an even greater variety from which you can choose. This is because two shoes with different lasts but the same toe style will still look drastically different.
However, each of these provide the same fit. Therefore, a client can then easily order other styles online or by telephone once his has been determined.
Similarly, clients can opt for personalised patinas and finishes. Furthermore, there are a number of additional customisation options such as perforations, toe medallions and nailed monograms.
As we will explain below, the manufacturing process is very labour intensive. Therefore, clients will need to wait between three and four months for their shoes to be produced.
For this reason, their prices start at £1,200 ($1,500) excluding tax. As with the ready-to-wear range, lasted shoe trees can be ordered separately to preserve them.
Fully Bespoke Shoes
Finally, Gaziano Girling also offers a fully bespoke service where clients will have shoes that are based on their very own measurements. Using measurements taken flat on paper, the client’s feet are then recreated on a three-dimensional wooden last from scratch.
An entirely handmade and labour-intensive process, producing a last that perfectly replicates clients’ feet is much more than mathematics. Every foot is unique and each client has there personal preferences. For instance, some feet will be sensitive in certain areas or have a greater tolerance to tightness.
Meanwhile, one client may prefer tightly-fitted shoes whereas another may like a more relaxed fit. As for the customisation options, these are effectively limited only by the client’s imagination.
While they can seek inspiration from existing designs or options from Gaziano Girling’s made-to-order service, they are free to come up with their own designs.
Once the last has been produced, versions of the first ordered pair will be made using 2nd-grade leather for fittings. Most orders will require between one and two fittings to ensure that the final shoes will fit perfectly. Only once they meet the client’s standards, the final shoes are manufactured.
As such, the entire process may take between 12 and 16 months from start to finish. Given that draft shoes and a wooden last is produced for the first order, the bespoke service costs £5,400 ($7,000) excluding VAT.
However, since the lasts are preserved, future orders take only 6 to 8 months and cost £4,500 ($5,850).
Gaziano Girling Shoe Construction
Gaziano Girling strives to produce incredibly comfortable shoes that break in as quickly as possible. Their objective is to create an experience that marries the comfort of Italian shoes with the quality and sturdiness of British craftsmanship.
Unless stated otherwise, all of Gaziano Girling’s shoes are Goodyear welted. By using an extremely high number of stitches per inch, they are able to create a surprisingly thinly profiled shoe. Meanwhile, Barbour threads are used in all of their shoes with hand-selected materials.
Goodyear welted shoes were the focus of Gaziano Girling’s production for many years as it’s the most traditional and reliable construction method. Nevertheless, Gaziano Girling also specialise in high-quality cemented soles.
Cemented soles are usually reserved for slippers and evening wear as they allow for an extremely light and thin profile. Given that they are only worn indoors or for infrequent special occasions, their benefits outweighed those of a Goodyear welt.
Gaziano Girling Goodyear-welted Shoe
Furthermore, Gaziano Girling researched an alternative construction method with a durable yet light sole that was more adapted to warmer weather. For this, they developed the Fresco range.
By using chestnut rather than oak bark soles, they’re much more flexible while offering superior hardiness to the cemented soles. With the additional peccary lining, the sole is extremely soft. Similarly, this provides the sensation of an unlined inner while retaining the structure and shape of a lined shoe.
How Are Gaziano Girling Shoes Made?
Gaziano Girling’s Northamptonshire workshop consists of only 25 craftsmen of which 5 are dedicated to making bespoke shoes. Each shoe will be handled by at least 15 of these craftsmen at some point during its production.
Meanwhile, Dean and Tony supervise the entire manufacturing process to ensure a rigorous quality control.
Ready-To-Wear & Made-To-Order Manufacturing Process
Gaziano Girling’s expert artisans have an intimate yet multi-skilled knowledge of shoemaking. In fact, their ready-to-wear shoemakers are arguably trained better than most bespoke craftsmen.
Overall, both ready-to-wear and made-to-order shoes undergo the same production process. However, their made-to-order service is certainly more demanding as each order is particularly unique. While most brands may offer some limited personalisation, they are restricted to a fixed number of lasts and toe shapes.
Meanwhile, the combination of lasts and toe shapes offered by Gaziano Girling is vast as we have described above.
Production begins upon reception of an order ticket from either a client or a retailer. Each ticket is treated individually and consists of the model, size, width, leather type, soles as well as the customisation options.
Gaziano Girling’s Intensive Production Process
The ticket will first be sent to the clicking room where a craftsman will cut leather according to the style’s pattern. Afterwards, the ticket and leather will be sent to the closer who performs the perforations, pinking (or gimping), and stitches the uppers together.
Following this, the upper will be transferred for lasting where the ticket is used for determining the correct type and size required. After undergoing different tasks undertaken by specific craftsmen, the shoe will finally be welted.
During this process, the soles and heels are added and trimmed with the aforementioned fiddle waist. This final step is particularly labour-intensive as meticulous craftsmanship is required to achieve the desired bespoke finish.
Before they are sent to the quality control room, the shoes are then creamed and polished for their final appearance. Every shoe is rigorously checked to see if it meets the brand’s uncompromising standards. If they fail to meet Tony and Dean’s criteria, they are entirely rejected.
Otherwise, they will be sent to the head office or directly to the shop where the order was placed.
Bespoke Shoe Manufacturing Process
Meanwhile, the bespoke shoe manufacturing process is somewhat different. This is largely because it involves the client’s unique wooden lasts as described in the section above.
Once finished, the shoe’s pattern is designed directly onto the last. Afterwards, it the finalised design is then rendered flat, which allows the clicker to use it as a template for cutting the leather.
However, as we explained above, the first pair is a draft used for fitting. Therefore, the uppers are simple and closed using scrap leather, which is stitched together and handwelted with thin rubber soles.
They are then sent for fitting and if the client isn’t happy with it, they will be crafted a second time with the feedback taken into account. Meanwhile, if it is approved, the design will be reused to cut the patterns from high quality leathers.
it is only at this stage that all the broguing and ornamentation are added to the shoes. The shoes will then undergo a hand lasting and welting process where the oak bark soles are stitched by hand.
Since the shoes are also hand finished, each pair will require an additional five hours of labour each.
Gaziano Girling Leather Quality
Gaziano Girling takes its procurement of raw materials extremely seriously. No compromise is allowed in their sourcing and selection of the finest leathers and hide areas.
Using the best leather is not enough. Of course the quality of raw materials is essential and we accept no compromise on our sourcing, but the selection of the hide areas that should be used for the shoes is also paramount.
Much of the leathers are sourced from select French and Swiss tanneries where the they will regularly send craftsmen to acquire the best hides.
These are typically transferred to prestigious Italian houses before arriving at the factory in to obtain a perfect finish. However, the brand will sometimes order half-finished leathers so they can undergo an antiquing process in their own factory.
Gaziano Girling also sources leathers from England too. As the UK is known for producing exceptional suede and grain leathers, merchants are often approached for unique limited hides.
For instance, Gaziano Girling celebrated its 12th Anniversary by releasing an Arran boot made from American bison. Gaziano Girling are actively seeking new leathers and constantly test acquired samples for potential future and seasonal lines.
Finally, Gaziano Girling is the only shoe manufacturer to only use authentic English oak-bark for all their soles. This unique leather is sourced from Baker & Co in Devon where it undergoes a 12-month tanning process in 2,000 year-old Roman tanning pits.
Gaziano Girling’s Collections
Gaziano Girling is particularly proud of each of its collections. Every collection has its purpose and unique properties from their cemented Fresco line to the high-end made-to-order Deco range.
Although their in-store collections are vast, below is a selection of highlights from Gaziano Girling’s online catalogue:
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