In bespoke shoemaking is the customer always right?
“The musky smell of leather perfumes the cosy studio of Josh Leong Shoes at Joo Chiat Terrace. Things get headier as you meet its namesake, a charming shoe atelier whose chat can keep you rapt through a crash course in his complex process, which involves more than 100 different steps and techniques.
It’s an intimate afternoon inside his world, as he opens up. “I am happiest when I am at my workstation,” he confesses. “When my mind is in that state of intense focus, I am in my own little bubble where it is just me and the shoes. Stress and worries disappear, and my mind is at peace.”
An archetype of a growing maker culture in Singapore, Mr Leong has become synonymous with a bespoke heritage once associated only with the Italian leather industry. He is focused on fine workmanship, attention to detail, and a sensibility that combines the nation’s famed pragmatist streak with a broad world view.
Mr Leong left his path in advertising sales, events management and …” Read full story here.
Gentlemenclover is first and foremost a man of almost 36 years and father of family, passionate of the beautiful things from his young age. More than a year ago, I started on the networks and I hang on with this wonderful subject of inspiration. I wished since the beginning of this year to devote myself 100% to my new project and I gave myself a little less than 2 years to succeed. The goal is of always sharing, advising, sourcing. The subjects will be numerous, from shoes, to costume, to tie, to watch making.
Who was the first person that influenced you in building your style?
I did not really have people who influenced me. I am rather an autodidact for the subject. I would say that the main source comes from my Italian origins, then I especially appreciate some bloggers, such as Blueloafers, The Nordic Fit, Andreas Weinas, Fabio Attanasio…
What inspires your own dressing?
I particularly like the Asian style mixed with the Italian know-how. I take inspiration from tailors mainly. They are my source because they have a vision and a way of doing things for everyone. It helps me diversify my choices. It is also valid for shoes and others.
How do you describe your personal style?
It’s complicated to describe one’s own style in a few lines rather than in an image. The style that I am trying to build is that of a chic, Franco-Italian dandy with a strong Asian touch. To me all this combined makes my own style. With inspiration from the ‘50s-‘60s.
What was the most extravagant item you have ever worn?
I’ve never really worn something extravagant. I would say that it was perhaps one of my made to order by Antonio Meccariello that took back the crocodile skin with a typical patina. I have more classic choices now.
Walking in Paris I noticed that most of the French Men are not very dapper. That’s a pity because the craft is still alive in Paris. Why this approach?
Yes, it is a pity, there are still very nice brands accessible in Paris. The man, whether French or not, pays much more attention to his appearance and style. In France, there is unfortunately not this same culture. Here, a well-dressed man is assimilated differently.
What are from your point of view the most emblematic French houses (tailors/shoemakers)?
This answer may also be broad. Without making a ranking, I would say Arnys, Cifonelli, Luca Camps, Stark and Sons, Pen House, Sirven House…for these two rising brands on Paris. It is also necessary to think of a young brand or rather a young man – Romain Biette, founder of Ardentes Clipei, a new Parisian tailoring. I would add at this point the shirts – to this short answer about the best tailors of Paris, speaking of Charvet and also of Swann and Oscar. “The suit” is not their specialty, but the first is a reference in the world, the second is my address and offers accessible and very qualitative made to measure products. Swann and Oscar even make an offer on the MTM jackets and develop their accessories…to which I contribute. For the shoes, also without a ranking, Aubercy, Weston, Corthay, Stephane Jimenez …
Let’s talk about hidden secrets. If someone would want to go shopping in Paris what is your advice?
It is not really a secret, but I invite you, if you want to discover some brands, to go to Paris in the neighborhood near the Madeleine, by the Opera. Then Saint Germain des Pres is also rich on the subject.
I like your selection of shoes as Vass is also one of my favorite MTO shoemaker. What RTW / MTO shoemakers do you favor beside Vass?
I’m actually an incontestable fan of Vass but I become very attached to the brand Skolyx, which are supplied on Spanish models Yanko. I also have a wonderful MTO from Mr. Ramon Cuberta. And I recently separated from the different models I had from Maestro Antonio Meccariello. My tastes have evolved since my beginnings, I became more classic in my choices, I especially appreciate suede calf. And the loafers model. I would like to think of a loafer from Baudoin & Lange soon, I am in the middle of an email exchange on the subject. Then I would like to complete this collection one day with a pair of Saint Crispin’s. The absolute dream would be to be able to associate Gentlemenclover with a special line as some blogger have already done.
Tell me more about your small shoe collection. What is the story of each pair?
It’s true that each has its own history. I work a lot to the imagination and always try to find a different color. At the beginning I was only working on my shoes, now I work with my different suits and my outfit. I like to break codes a bit, to say that suede does more sportwear is not for me. It is also privileged for the summer, not for me either.
I have long been attracted by Italy for shoes and I now like to see other. As I have already said, I would really like to participate in the design and choice of a line of shoes.
After I work a lot to feelings and exchange that I can have with different artisans. Vass or Skolyx are listening to me and this is the basis of my inspiration, as I imagine with them if my shoes are possible.
My last MTO with skolyx, I imagined it based on the fabric chosen from Bntailor, command made with Robin Pettersson.
My last F for Vass. Last 955 pour skolyx Only available for loafers.
I rather like the round shapes, which correspond more to the shape of my foot and my kick.
What shoe style do you prefer the most?
I believe I have already answered but without hesitation, the loafer is for me the shoes I love most to wear. For the choice of suede skin, with a semi-rubber sole. It’s different features gives me a more comfortable and aesthetic shoes. Especially since suede does not mark the folds
What are your favorite places to spend your evenings?
And what about future plans?
My future projects are numerous. I would like to imagine various partnerships. For shoes, I would like to imagine new collaborations. For bespoke suits, continue to develop my collection and also have new collaborations with Italian tailors or others. Continue to make discoveries brands and I think all this will be easier when my website will be in place. Then, I already collaborate with a French brand on the accessory part, I have the will to persist with Swann and Oscar in time. Why not do the same with other brands who like my style?