Bespoke: It means a shoe that has “been spoken for”. Bespoke is when one shoemaker creates a shoe from scratch for one person. This usually takes multiple fittings as the pattern is drafted directly on the person. This art arises from Savile Row (UK) and is the most traditional way a shoe is made.
Bionda Castana exclusively makes bespoke shoes for women, making them a black sheep from the word go. Add in the fact that they prize tactile feel and comfort over looks (though the looks are arresting) and you’ll find sky-high heels that feel silky smooth.
A minimalist style for a time when cutting back and reducing your carbon footprint are popular, Feit was founded by the brothers Feit and exemplifies small batch shoes made by hand. There’s no flash to be had, but anyone serious about shoes will see the craftsmanship behind these durable modern marvels.
Crockett & Jones use nothing but Goodyear welting, which gives their soles more life, more comfort, and a greater feel for long days on your feet. A 5th generation family business, Crockett & Jones’ boots and shoes might look a little staid, but the feel is nothing shy of bliss.
Since 1899, A&S has been crafting shoes in the old style, with their business lurking in the Northamptonshire area; home of classic English bespoke. Refusing to bow to many trends, they specialize in men’s traditional dress shoes, and that focus is apparent in their work.
The Johnston & Murphy company itself endured some negative attention a few years back, but rather than fold to pressure, they went back to what they do best: True custom shoes made right in Nashville. Though their selection is limited, the shoes they do have are supple, comfortable, and impressive for black-tie or business attire.
Heel the World seeks to single-handedly bring back the bespoke shoe. Based out of Africa, the company itself is philanthropic in that they train unemployed workers to craft shoes, giving them a valuable skill while also giving the world gorgeous, truly bespoke shoes; and saving lives.
Church’s was formerly considered the finest shoemaker in the world, but after being bought by Prada a few years ago, they’ve wavered in their commitment to quality. They still make an incredible shoe, but are made now for trend followers, rather than traditional bespoke buyers.
Australia is too laid-back for customized shoes, but Andrew McDonald – formerly of Hermès in Paris and John Lobb in London – took them there anyway. A workman on a second-story shop in Sydney, he’s brought European tradition down under, offering shoes for men and women that have a distinctly Aussie sensibility with classical dedication to quality.
Made with even more love than hand-crafted bagpipes, the mixture of Tartan and Leather fabric at Buchanan Bespoke offers a distinctive level of showmanship for a pair of shoes. You can pick your own combination of materials, allowing you to mix and match for honest individuality.
Up until 1991, if you bought a pair of Cleverley shoes, odds are that George himself had a hand in their making. A highly respected name that has some of the most exacting standards in the industry, you’ll pay a king’s ransom, but you’ll be walking on air the second you don shoes bearing this brand.