A while back, I was invited to an event hosted by JM Weston that was meant to introduce the influencers of London to the ability that JM Weston, as a long standing and successful shoe company, has. As an American living in London, I am partially an outsider (and thus observer) to British culture and the ways of life, and with that have noticed that many British people (not all) will often blindly support companies strictly from their country. Now, in no way am I against a bit of pride in oneâ€™s own industry and country and therefore wanting to support them, but sometimes too much pride can result in the inability to recognize the great things that exist outside oneâ€™s country. I too used to be like this, but luckily having moved to Europe 8 years ago, opened my eyes to all of the beautiful and amazing things that existed outside of the US. That being, I have always known about JM Weston, admiring their style and heritage as great French shoemakers, but in all honesty, never really looked to know more about them. Like most people, if given the opportunity (prior to this event), to receive a free pair of shoes by one of the many British shoemakers or JM Weston, I probably would have chosen one of the British shoemakers without even thinking about it. I now know that I would have been foolish to simply and naively rule them out.
So at the event, everyone that was there was presented with a piece of paper (with a design of a shoe model, one of many available) as well as our own pencil and crayons to share. To also share were not only swatches of leather (and endless choices of it) but also swatches of stitching thread. Now, I have been around a few shoemakers and never has one has ever presented a swatch of thread (full of every color there is) to choose from. That was impressiveâ€¦.. At that point, we were free to draw out our very own MTO shoe, using one design and all of the leather/thread/sole choices that we wanted. Needless to say, this activity was very fun and as you can see, what is presented here is what I came up with. After having done this, we were invited to go to their shop on Jermyn st., where we were then measured up and fitted in the last that we have previously chose. Now, allow me to say that JM Westonâ€™s shoes run quite big so if you are ever to think about getting a pair make sure you get fitted first. For example, in Gaziano & Girling, I am a UK7.5D (narrow width), but in this model of JM Weston, I somehow fit into a UK6D (standard width), which is quite a big difference (but think that I really need the 6.5). But saying that, they still felt amazingly great (quality wise), supportive and well made, just as comfortable (if not more) than my shoes from other top end shoemakers. That being, their £550-£700 RTW price tags are well warranted!
For those that donâ€™t know, JM Weston is probably one of the most intelligent and powerful shoemakers in the world, not simply because their name is synonymous with quality in the mindâ€™s of every French consumer, but rather because they own their very own tannery (which supplies about 60% of my leather too, not to mention all of the other brands out there). Being your own factory is one thing, but then owning your own tannery to supply your factory puts you in a whole other league. This fact not only ensures that you will never have leather delays but also that your company will always get first pick, and thus the highest quality of leather. You canâ€™t beat that. This is also why they are able present you the thread to choose from, because there is no limit to what they can doâ€¦â€¦ Going to this event and receiving a pair of their shoes, certaily put their abilities (and thus quality of shoemaking) into perspective for me. Before, I slept on them and their abilities, now I certainly donâ€™t and rate them among the best, no question, comparing them to EG for sureâ€¦..that being, if you are thinking about MTO shoes, donâ€™t sleep on JM Weston as you might have once done. Trust me, you wonâ€™t regret at least trying them onâ€¦.!
Since this post was written, I have heard that JM Weston has actually sold the tannery and thus no longer owns it.
A few other MTO examples (courtesy of En Grande Pompe):