I came up with the idea in 2010, when I commissioned my first ever pair of bespoke shoes from Hidetaka Fukaya. At the time, I had already visited a few bespoke shoemakers to get a sense of their work. This made me realize that, aside from some things on the internet and a handful of Japanese magazines, there wasn’t a lot of published material on this subject. So I set on writing a book, which has been about five years in the making.
Unlike other books on luxury and craft, which often feel advertorial, I wanted to create something more honest. There are already a few books out there about classic men’s shoes, as well as how they’re made – László Vass’ Handmade Shoes for Men being one of the more famous titles. I didn’t want this to be overly technical, but instead focus on both the craft and the artisans themselves. For example, in the book, I talk about the history of English firms and their ups and downs as they try to pass the craft from one generation to another. The bespoke experience is also very personal, and I try to capture the intimacy of this experience in the book.
Bespoke footwear is such a unique niche. Few men get bespoke suits; fewer still get bespoke shoes. With all the options today for relatively affordable custom shoes – e.g. Vass, Saint Crispin’s, and Enzo Bonafe – what do you think makes bespoke shoes particularly special or worthwhile?
Bespoke shoes are indeed niche. Roberto Ugolini, one of the Florentine shoemakers I cover, once noted to me that bespoke footwear is typically the last step towards a fully bespoke wardrobe. Bespoke shirts are usually first, followed by a bespoke suit or sport coat. But most men stop there.
If you are living in Asia and you are looking for Carlos Santos shoes the new opened e-shop called Shoefever is the place to visit. Shoefever project was developed by Fran Kim from South Korea and sells a large range of Carlos Santos and John Lakes shoes to name the most interesting names. The John Lakes split-toe below is my favorite model. Shoefever has also a nice blog where you can find plenty of shoe photos unedited.