As many of you have probably read, the shoes behind the Stefano Bemer brand have been implemented into the shop of New & Lingwood on Jermyn St. in London. This means that you are now able to go there and either purchase RTW shoes or place an order for MTO. To enquire for the possibility of bespoke, I believe that one would have to wait until the Bemer team make their bi-annual trip. As this recent information has been streaming across the internet as of late, I figured that I too would put my two cents in to talk about it and what it means for all of you that might not know much about Stefano Bemer’s history or product. As someone who worked under Stefano Bemer when he was alive and actually got to spend a lot of time with his product, I hope to shed some unbiased light on what this means for all of you potential customers and the details of his product.
While things didn’t necessarily pan out like I had originally intended in terms of my time with Stefano (although in the long run it all happened for a reason), and therefore left with a bit of disappointment, the only thing that I felt real regret towards was the fact that I was not able to help spread the word (more so) with regards to the greatness of his footwear. That was part of our exchange: he helped me learn shoemaking and took me under his wing in turn for me helping to grow his brand awareness to the American market (by wholeselling his product to shops). But being there in the beginning of the recession of 2009, it sure was not easy to convince buyers to purchase a luxury priced product (of little brand worth) at a time when they could barely sell their own stock…. But as things have changed and new backing is involved, I feel that what I could not do then, will hopefully be achieved now by what seems to be a team that cares about maintaining the integrity of the product that Mr. Bemer put so much of his life into. But as much in life would teach us, only time will tell.
Now to the nitty gritty. So, N&L has become Bemer’s first new stockist since the acquisition and I had a little chat with the new owner of Bemer’s, Mr. Tommaso Melani, to understand what was going on and how the future looked. That being the shoes are made nearly in the exact same fashion as when Stefano was still alive. That being all of the materials used (lasts & leather) were sourced and created by Stefano (of which I am sure that they are still using, with the possibility of a few updated lasts. The patterns are then made and cut in-house but then sent out of house to a small factory nearby, whereby the Bemer team work very closely with a team of their own appointed artisans that then last and welt the shoes by hand before putting the sole on by machine and then finishing the shoes by hand.
This means that unlike most RTW shoes, you get an actual arch stiffener that provides a support that a machine lasted shoe will never have and make it about 10 times more supportive and thus comfortable. You get all of this for Ł1250. That being, you get nearly a fully handmade shoe (not to be confused with bespoke). It’s not cheap, but when you compare to the likes of the Anthony Cleverley line, G&G Deco, Saint Crispins, JL’s top line (whatever it is called, Prestige I think) or EG Top Drawer, who are all around the same price, but with less handwork (with the exception of Saint Crispins’ – who are fully handmade), it is a fair price for today’s rates. The shoes are not as clean and refined in their finishing as some of these others, but that air of handmade ‘feel and look’ stenches the room when you are around them and I know that from first hand knowledge that they feel like a million bucks and last a lifetime! And what’s even more impressive is that this is the same price for MTO, no up-charge added, with a 8-10 week turnaround.
What I always loved about Stefano was the fact that he was doing flair in color, linings and piping long before anyone else. But no one knew about it. His skill in coordination of color and style was second to none and hopefully this talent will now be shown to the world. While many of you will undoubtedly be skeptical to the price, if you are London based, do yourself a favor and go see them in the flesh and try them on. You will then understand. To all those that can’t make it to London, well hopefully you will enjoy what you see here and ever more so, hopefully the new Bemer team will get to a stockist near you.