Are your feet happy with a specific RTW last?
As mentioned above it’s rarely a really good fit in all regards, but one RTW last that works well for me is from a brand I used to work for before, Swedish/Italian Italigente and their 29 last.
How do you describe your personal shoe style?
I like classic, elegant shoes. Doesn’t stand out too much, but looks clean and good, and I do have some patina models etc, though versions of brown, nothing crazier than that.
What are your habits regarding wearing shoes? I personally polish them regularly, buy I hate mirror polish for example.
I’ve been polishing a higher shine in recent years than I did before, though I’m not in any way extreme with mirror shining. But nowadays I don’t polish my shoes that often at all to be honest, part of it is since I have a good amount to rotate between, but also cause I’m a bit lazy I guess, and often a quick walkover with a nylon cloth fix them up enough.
What was the most extravagant item you have ever worn?
A pair of burgundy derbys from the Austrian bespoke shoemaker Maftei with lizard facings and patina with the toe and heel in slightly lighter colour is probably the most extravagant shoes that I’ve worn regularly, though I’ve had green and blue shoes and stuff like that, but they got sold rather quick.
Are you sentimental regarding your shoes and clothes? Is there any item that you are especially fond of?
Regarding clothes, no. Shoes, yes, and also some vintage watches I own I can be sentimental about. Of my shoes I always have a bit of extra feeling for the first pair from different brands, it’s always a bit special getting something that you’ve never had before.
What is your favorite word?
What is your least favorite word?
What turns you on (creatively, spiritually or emotionally)?
People that are passionate about something, whatever it may be.
What turns you off?
People who can’t see their own flaws.
What is your favorite curse word?
Fan (Swedish version of ”shit”, sort of).
What sound or noise do you love?
My kids laughter.
What sound or noise do you hate?
My kids crying.
What profession would you not like to do?
Anything which requires you to work outdoor all the time, like construction worker or something like that. The nice sunny days will never make-up for the bad weather ones.
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Welcome, everyone you’ve known is waiting for you inside.
That’s a hard question, but it’s probably from when I was like 8-9 years old and all the cool kids in school had these Nike Air basketball shoes where the air cushion was shown on the side of the sole. My parents couldn’t afford that type of shoes, so I got some regular stuff, but I then noticed how there was a layer of cushioned foam below the top insole. I was really pleased with this, stating to my friends that it ”was almost as the air cushion, just different solution”. Not sure if they believed me, but I did, that was the most important thing.
When did you buy the first real pair of shoes?
As a teenager and in early adult years I didn’t care about shoes or clothes at all. The only important thing was which band there was on the t-shirt. For many years I bought a pair of Adidas Superstar II in spring, wore them every day all year, fixed them up with duct tape if needed, and then bought a new pair of the same model next spring.
Then I started university and started dressing a bit more grown-up, and when I began working in an office, even if it was as a journalist which really isn’t the best dressed crowd around, it developed further. I then wanted a nice coat for winter, and started browsing through menswear blogs and websites. Found a nice coat, and on these sites I had discovered how nice Goodyear welted, classic shoes could look. So I bought a pair of Loake 1880 Aldwych in dark brown, and since then I’ve been hooked. This was about nine years ago, and I’ve spent countless hours since then trying to learn as much as I possibly can about classic shoes.
What is your favourite model?
I think like 80 per cent of my shoe wardrobe consists of brown oxfords of various types. Which version of this that is my favourite can vary a bit, probably a wholecut with medallion, where the last shape really gets to shine.
But the one you prefer the least?
Best fitting pair of shoes?
Worst fitting pair of shoes?
How many pairs of shoes do you own?
What is the key of getting a good result from a good bespoke shoemaker?
The latter part of that question is an important one, ”good bespoke shoemaker”. Cause just because someone makes bespoke shoes, it doesn’t make them good, frankly. The variation of quality between bespoke shoemakers is huge. But when you’ve found a good one, and someone that makes a type of style that you like, then it’s important with good communication and patience. It is hard to explain how you experience fit and how you want shoes to fit. It’s a learning process for both you and the maker, and for me who has relatively complicated feet I’ve never had a really good fit on the first shoe from any bespoke shoemaker. Nowadays, when I’ve gained quite good experience of what works for me, and know shoes and fit quite good in general, I’m better at explaining for the shoemaker, which do help.
What advices would you give to a shoe buyer who would want to detect quality?
Is the client always right in ordering a bespoke? Did you happened to change your mind after having a discussion with your shoemaker?
It’s not possible to simply say yes or no to this question, it all depends. But I always listen to the shoemaker and hear their input on things, and sometimes I go with their suggestion, sometimes not. For example I had the discussion with one shoemaker about how tight the sole stitch should be, 10 or 12 spi, stitches per inch. He thought it would look better with 10, better balance for my large shoes. First pair he did with 10, it was ok, but next I convinced him to do 12, and we both agreed that I was right and it did turn out even better.
What is the quality that you appreciate the most at a bespoke pair above all?
The arch support. I have rather high arches and wide feet, with hallux valgus issues especially on the right foot. It’s only bespoke, or Made to Measure/semi bespoke if base last is good for me, where I can get a proper arch support, and it makes a big difference especially after walking a lot during a day, the feet are much less tired.
How do you see the future of the gentle craft?
It’s definitely a challenge. There is a big interest in making shoes by hand, and learning this, but there are relatively few who are willing to spend all that insane amount of time and efforts needed to really become great at it, at least in most parts of the world. People are too comfortable, to be a shoemaker is a lot of hard work but it doesn’t get you rich, and that combination is not ideal in this day and age.
To be continued …
“Much has been made of the announcement by Daniel Day-Lewis, last summer, that “Phantom Thread,” Paul Thomas Anderson’s psychological/sartorial drama, set in nineteen-fifties London, marks his retirement from acting. Less has been made—indeed, it would be fair to say that almost nothing has been made—of the fact that “Phantom Thread” also marks the cinematic début of George Glasgow, a bespoke shoemaker and nascent character actor.
Viewers of the film who have managed to tear their eyes away from Day-Lewis—he has won three Academy Awards for Best Actor, and is nominated again, for his performance as Reynolds Woodcock, a fastidious couturier—may have noticed Glasgow, who appears in two scenes in his role as Nigel Cheddar-Goode. In the first, he is seated in a brasserie, bow-tied and mustachioed, dining with Day-Lewis and his co-stars (Vicky Krieps, who plays Woodcock’s muse, Alma, and Lesley Manville, who plays his sister, Cyril) and muttering about horse racing in a distinctive London accent. The second time, he appears as the best man at the wedding of Woodcock and Alma, standing silently in the background as they take their fateful vows.
Illustration by Tom Bachtell
In his day job, Glasgow, who is sixty-six, is the co-owner of George Cleverley & Company, which crafts handmade shoes for bankers, hedge-funders, royals, sportsmen, and actors, including Day-Lewis. (Day-Lewis’s last—the beechwood form that is carved in the shape of his foot, upon which his shoes are made—dangles in a storeroom above the shop, in London, alongside the lasts of Charlie Watts, David Beckham, Jony Ive, and Kenneth Branagh.) A couple of years ago, when Glasgow was in New York to meet with clients, Day-Lewis invited him to lunch at Harry Cipriani, on Fifth Avenue. The men discussed the shoes that Day-Lewis was having made to wear as Woodcock—gorgeous, gleaming things, worn over socks of ecclesiastical purple—and Day-Lewis asked Glasgow about his life. The actor was delighted to hear that Glasgow was born in Pimlico: his own grandfather, Michael Balcon, was the head of the Ealing Studios, which made “Passport to Pimlico,” among many other celebrated film comedies…” Read full story here
My first surprise was they’re really daring with the color. The [global] men’s market moved within the last 10 years, of course—everybody noted this. Men are a bit more fashionable—little by little—but in China, the movement is very, very fast. In my collection, I’m very focused on the color and the detail of the piping. They really understand very quickly, and really they dare, which is not so obvious in France or other markets like the United States.
You also have two stores in Hong Kong. Have you noticed any differences in taste between the mainland and Hong Kong customers?
Hong Kong is a bit different. It’s much more cosmopolitan than Beijing. In Hong Kong, you have some mainlanders who come, but you have all the nationalities.
Here, it’s really like a new market. The people are very open-minded, in fact. You feel that they are more open-minded than the others. It’s a funny thing but I think it’s really true.
How important is personalized service in the China market compared to other markets?
The same as everywhere. We make bespoke here, which is full bespoke—starting from scratch—and we have ready-to-wear, but in ready-to-wear, you have the possibility to make a very special thing called an “MTO” or “made-to-order”: you can change the color, you can change the finishing, the piping, the lining, the sole. Half of our business is done with the MTO in ready-to-wear, which is huge.
What kind of demand have you seen for bespoke products in general in China?
In China’s market, I think the bespoke is a statement.
The first time I came to China seven years ago, I visited the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, and I realized the level of the craft they had for a very long time. Of course, they had a very big period—the Cultural Revolution, which was terrible for their culture and for a lot of people, but they have this [craftsmanship] in their DNA. They know the quality; they know the nice craft. It’s a very sophisticated culture. They understand the difference, and they really enjoy it.
You just introduced some soft shoes to the China market. Can you talk about how these compare to the other models?
For 25 years I’ve made a kind of formal shoe—leather sole, good construction, classical but with a twist. But in a certain way, it’s not very open. I decided six months ago, especially for the China market (but not only the China market—Dubai and also the Hong Kong market—countries where it’s hot or wet) we definitely need this product—something easier to wear, softer—they can wear it barefoot. Just to open the field a little bit more for the customer. It’s a first step because we’re probably going to move next for fall/winter to the sneaker, and then next spring/summer we’re probably going to make another loafer like this one but lighter and softer. Shoes that you’d like to wear on the beach in St. Tropez or on your yacht…” Read full interview here
Side-gusset shoes also known as lazyman shoes have quite a history. According to Anita Capwell a Victoria&Albert Museum volunteer this model is linked to Joseph Sparkes Hall (1811-1891) author of a book entitled ‘Book of the Feet’.
According to Anita Capwell “Sparkes Hall’s development of the elastic boot went hand in hand with 19th century industrial inventions and innovations in rubber and elastic. He had been making waterproof over shoes (galoshes) made with rubber since 1830 and was interested in developing and incorporating new materials into his footwear.
Slipper-like shoes worn at the time were difficult to keep on and laced or button-fastening boots were time consuming for the wearer. Initial experiments were a failure because the early elastics were simply not elastic enough however using wire and India rubber he eventually succeeded. In 1837 he had patented his first design for a slip-on boot with the gusset made from tightly coiled wire and cotton and three years later he created the first patented boot that incorporating what we would today recognize as elastic.“
Until recently I had no side gusset shoes in my wardrobe. Despite their history I do not like them in particular and they do not match my taste. Although brothers of loafers, they claim an outfit that is a bit too pretentious for me, as I am a good friend of sport jackets and chinos trousers. Nevertheless, I have to admit that I have been amazed to notice that they lack almost entirely from the offer of the RTW producers.
For several years now, the range of models has broadened and now we are able to buy, for instance, button boots, but it appears that side gusset had not yet convinced the producers that it deserves to be included on their list.
Until recently though, when, probably under the pressure of the Asian market (because shoes are usually taken off indoors in Japan for exemple), Yanko brought them in light, and now you can buy them from websites like Skolyx. The RTW model in the image has a half- rubber sole and is a brother of a boot model with an almost Victorian air pictured below. Both are made on the same Yanko last – 915.
Yanko is an interesting producer for which Toni Llobera announces important modifications in the branding policy. News are long in coming though for some time now. In the meantime, however, you can pay a visit to Skolyx in order to see some currently available models.
After many years of absence from his native country, Alexandru Maftei returns with a new studio downtown Bucharest, on 24 Tudor Stefan street. The first studio was opened in a chic neighborhood of Bucharest, with private houses from mid XXth century and with quiet streets, but, in my opinion, a low traffic area and, therefore, one lacking visibility. Now they reoriented towards one of the glam areas of the city, where they are in a pretty select company, at walking distance from Brunello Cucinelli. I am glad that they returned, because there is a demand for bespoke shoes, Bucharest being a fast growing city. The grand opening will happen on the 1st of March, the event being attended by Alexandru Maftei himself. The meetings with him are highly agreeable, his shoe making experience being vast. I am very glad about their coming back and I wish them good luck with their new location. For more info please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.