This century´s obsession with convenience and constant replacement has led most people to think that bespoke shoemaking is a dying art. However, the renewed focus on sustainability, and the increased interest in uniquely crafted products, have brought the bespoke men's shoe industry under the spotlight once again.
That being said, the journey of learning about custom footwear and the intricacies of choosing the right design and maker takes time and effort. This article is an effort to offer a quick guide to choosing your first bespoke men's shoes.
Why Is Custom Footwear Better?
Many tend to think that the point of having custom-made shoes is to make sure everybody notices they're wearing them. However, this effect can be achieved with any ready-to-wear pair without having to spend much.
The real reason for acquiring custom footwear is to have a pair of shoes that reflect your style, have a superior fit, and are made to last.
Ready-to-order custom shoes should be a product of learning your preferences in terms of leather, lifestyle needs, style, and comfort.
When you are buying luxury footwear, you´re also acquiring a product made with materials that will last a long time.
Ready-to-wear shoes are usually products made with a lot of trade-offs. To cut prices, most commercial companies use cemented construction which means your soles are glued and the fit is acceptable at best. That's why most of these pairs only last a few months under heavy use, and are usually not worth resoling or repairing. Blake stitched shoes do offer superior construction value, but do not provide proper insulation or durability.
Bespoke men's shoes from reputed makers are all made with full-grain leather Goodyear welt, which provides superior construction and durability. They usually last from three to five years, but their life can be extended indefinitely with regular care and resoling. This means that, while the initial investment sounds steep, custom–made men's shoes reduce long-term expenses in the footwear category.
Stay On The Conservative Side
In general, we tend to have more suits and clothes than shoes. That means we need to make sure we can use them with the widest selection of outfits. When you're on the lookout for your first set of custom footwear, stick to something you know you can use with your best clothes.
This does not mean you must create an exact copy of a pair you already own. A good starting point is to check your current wardrobe and see what's missing. If you need a pair that makes you look sharp for work, go with black or dark brown oxfords, bluchers, or quarter brogues. If what you need is something on the sexy side, you can't go wrong with loafers, suede brogues, or double monks.
After you own a few pairs, and you´re comfortable with your shoemaker and fit, you can spice things up a bit.
Pay Attention To The Small Details
After you choose a basic style or foundation, be ready to discuss specifics. Passionate shoemakers can be even more artistic than tailors if that's possible. That means they welcome discussions about their craft and are both willing to listen and offer suggestions. Small details like heel shapes, sole texture, and lining can all be altered to suit your needs and particular taste so you know you will get truly unique shoes.
Be Ready To Wait
One of the main advantages of buying RTW shoes is that you can just enter a store and walk out wearing a shiny new pair. Contrastingly, bespoke shoes and boots are not produced in mass, so it can take anywhere from three weeks to a whole year for a shoemaker to craft the perfect pair. This means that, if you´re pressed for time, it is better to buy off-the-rack.
At Idrese it takes us up to 28 days to finish one of our stylish sets, and up to three days to ship.
Do Not Shop Local
This might sound counterintuitive for those who are thinking of patronizing their local boot-fitter. Unless you live close to a high-end designer, your best bet when getting your first bespoke men's shoes is to buy from shoemakers who frequently travel the world, use hotels to show their wares to customers in private suites, and understand what makes a great pair of shoes. However, that kind of shoemaker will require a padded bank account and plenty of research time.
Idrese was born from the idea of combining our experience as luxury footwear makers and years of traveling and working closely with over thirty European workshops, with the convenience of eCommerce.
Today, we can offer high-end custom footwear made with the best material and craftsmanship for customers across the globe at affordable prices without compromising quality. Browse through our website to find out about our materials, design options, and pricing, or contact us if you have any questions about our process.