Most of you think that custom-made shoes are expensive and out of your budget. Well, think again. World is full of artisans that can give you excellent product for a reasonable price. On of such artisans is Shoemakers that I will present in this article.
At the end of 2012 when I was preparing materials for this site I joined Pinterest and became an avid pinner. One of the first pinners I started to follow was Brogues and Shoemakers. I visited their website at www.handmadebrogues.com and I was surprised with the beauty of their made to order shoes and with the prices for which you can order them.
Since Modern Gentleman Magazine is proud to present and encourage hand making craftsmanship we are glad to write about such artisan like Shoemakers.
Online shoe ordering
Shoemakers website design is not the prettiest I have seen but the main focus here is not the site itself but the shoes, and there are plenty shoes to look at. One thing that I would like to see is photographs of shoes from another angles. For example view from the top and view from a side. This is important for me when buying shoes since I care how they look from all sides, especially from the top since I don’t like pointy shoes.
I must admit I never ordered any shoes online, except for the running sneakers. I was always skeptical about it. You never know if the numbers are right, if the shoe will fit, if the color of the product will be as stated, basically there were lots of things that were putting me of from ordering shoes over the internet.
Well, when ordering from Shoemakers, there is almost nothing for you to worry about. The process of ordering the shoes is divided in 5 steps in which you complete your choice of unique shoes. You cannot go wrong with it.
First thing that you choose is the style of the shoes you want. You can choose from oxfords, derbys, monks, loafers and boots. If you like to add a special touch to your shoes and make them more unique you can mix and match certain style details to make them even more personal. This sounds like a nice option but I would go with the classic shoe style.
Second step is choice of materials. Calfskin and suede leather used in these handmade shoes are of the finest quality but if you want something more than a “plain” leather you can choose between several luxurious exotic leathers which are on the offer, and those are ostrich, snake, crocodile or some other unusual animal skin leather.
This unique and textured appearance of exotic leather gives customer an option to make their shoes in a new and creative ways.
Craftsmanship and construction
Third step is color selection. This step is the one that will make your shoes stand out. This is the distinctive feature and a sign of shoes uniqueness. Customer can specify the color of the finish, and Shoemakers have many delicious colors to choose from; olives, reds, bordeaux, cognac, aubergines.
Shoemakers can provide their customers with the idea of hand coloring (patina) on the shoe to get those incredible natural looking dark and light hues.
Special hand color finishing is done entirely by the hand. The burnishing and antiquing effects of Shoemaker craftsmen have evolved into a unique feel and distinctive look. Due to the extraordinary nature of the technique, no two pairs of shoes are exactly the same. How more unique can it get than this.
Fourth step in the made to order process is the choice of construction. The shoes are constructed solidly with great attention to the details and crafted with the utmost care.
Shoemakers use Goodyear Welt construction method for durability and possible resoling. This is an Italian traditional craftsmanship, with more material, more complicated shoemaking process and longer process time. In additional, hand stitching of the upper, welt, medium sole and outsole, is put together by 18 strands of cotton twine to increase the firmness and add cushioning material inside to enhance the comfort. The soles of the shoes are nicely made, and held up very well with two separate stitching carefully made.
There is 8 stages of production and each pair of shoes undergoes over 200 operations. This process takes about 30 days. It may sound like a marketing trick but it is not. Handmade shoemaking is a process that takes time and precision. There is no artisan in the world that would like to have its items returned because of poor construction, and they will do anything in their power to produce long-lasting quality product.
Measuring the feet
Last step in the process of ordering made to order shoes is measuring your feet.
On their website there are instructions on how to measure your feet. Although the instructions are clear I must say that they do not look nice and are biggest remark I have about their website. The drawings and type are below the standards of altogether nicely designed site but they are clear and you will have no trouble measuring your feet.
The only confusion that you will have is in the step “6. Which Step Do you Have?”. I know mine step because I familiarized with these terms when I was buying my running shoes. The terms you are looking for are pronation and overpronation and what part of the foot touches the ground first. The toes, mid-foot or the heel. I think this should have been explained clearly so that customers can be certain what check box to click, because I am sure many of them do not know how they walk.
When the offer is finalized Shoemakers takes your measurements and then customize the shoe to fit perfectly and comfortable enough to wear them often even on a daily basis, although I would recommend you against it. No shoes should be worn more than two days in a row. By taking care of them in this way shoes will last longer.
Pricing and Shipping
Now for the best part of it all. You will be surprised by the prices of these shoes. The price range is from $179 – $288. In my opinion this is truly reasonable and affordable price for shoes of such a quality and craftsmanship. If you compare it with some mass market shoe manufacturers that produce their shoes on the machines in China for the same or even bigger amounts, than this is real bargain price.
What is even better is that Shoemakers will ship the shoes for free, and this cost can be substantial. Shoemakers ship all over the world. All of the items will be securely wrapped, packaged and shipped in box for safe delivery after receiving the payment. Everything shipped out via Post Office by air to your front door. Then, they will send each buyer a Tracking Number which they can use to track their parcels. It normally takes 10 days to arrive.
If you don’t want made to order shoes you can check out their featured offers with already designed shoes that sell at 30-50% discount prices and you can get handmade shoes starting from $155.
Handmade craftsmanship is something that is having a revival in later years and if you want to stand out from the crowd, handmade products are the way to go. Especially if you compare the prices of some brands that sell their shoes at higher prices just to justify their marketing costs. These brands sell products that are not unique and most of them definitely don’t offer the quality for the price you pay for the product.
Artisans like Shoemakers are focusing more on the quality than on the marketing and that’s why they can offer their products at competitive prices. That’s why I will choose such products over mass market ones, any day of the year.