So I just spent the last 8 days in Florence, Italy (where I once lived for a year) making my fifth pair of shoes, slaving away day and night to just barely have them finished literally just right before I went to the airport. Now, when you talk about bespoke shoes, which is what these are, you find that most shoemakers will tell you that there is about 40 man hours put into the making of one pair. Making shoes myself and having been around people who are better than myself, I really feel like this can vary. Considering that I am still somewhat novice to the art of shoemaking, it definitely takes me longer than 40 hours, more like 50-55 hours, but then again I continue to have 2-4 month lapses in between every pair that I make so it’s hard to keep the momentum of my learning going without loosing a little bit during every gap. However, what really boggles me is the fact that several shoemakers have told me that a ‘great’ shoemaker should be able to finish a pair with 16-20 hours of actual labor (not including time waiting for drying of leather) which I just find amazing if truly done. There are literally so many steps to it and tricky one’s for that matter that you would really have to be on your ball in order to make one so fast without any mistakes. But then again, there are masters out there who have been making shoes for over 20 years, so they could almost probably make a pair blind folded by now.
I have been really excited to make this particular pair for awhile now and was glad to have the day finally come. It’s the epitome of what I like in a shoe, something that is one solid color but that has a contrast color as a detail, like the piping. I had been eyeballing this shoe ever since I stepped into Stefano Bemer’s shop (where I did my apprenticeship) and knew that if I had the chance I would someday make this model. The colors and piping are different though from the original shoe (which you can see on his website, under oxfords, style 600p). I wanted to spice it up a little bit, make something a little bit more eye catching and that could turn an average outfit into a great one! So what better than a bright red leather paired with a nice clean white piping? The sad thing though, is that you rarely ever see something like this, even if it is in conservative coloring, like all black with white piping. Yet I really feel like if put together properly, with the right outfit, this shoe style could be incorporated into an office setting, something a little more dress code oriented. Maybe I am just way off, but that won’t stop me from continuing to make these types of shoes, especially once I start my line, in hopes to deteriorate the limitations of the dress codes in modern day American workplaces.
Just to show what types of outfits you could pair these shoes with, I have added some pictures for visual help. Whats great about the outfit on the left is that you could switch the pant to be pretty much anything else: jeans, khakis, cords etc and the outfit would still go great together. As a simple rule of matching try incorporating the colors of your shoes with the same, similar or complimenting colors of your upper area. Thats really matching 101 but whats great is taking it to the next level and going for contrast in your outfit which can make a pair of shoes like this create a really fun and stylish look. It’s simple really and if I can do it then most likely, you can too!!