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Tony Gaziano (from Gaziano & Girling) Interview

Being an aspiring shoemaker/shoe designer myself, I find it critical to try and meet the people in the industry who are shoemakers or shoe designers themselves and do my best to absorb their knowledge or input of how exactly one gets into the industry and more importantly, how one successfully stays in the industry. Knowing that I am not the only aspiring individual and that it might not always be easy to get this type of information, I want to share with you what I am able to collect and hopefully through my provided information, be able to answer questions that you may have had yourself yet weren’t able to find an answer for. So, for my first interview, I have Tony Gaziano, whom makes up one-half of the Bespoke/RTW shoemaking duo,Gaziano & Girling. Enjoy!

1. What made you want to get into shoemaking? –Did you have inspiration?

Actually shoemaking was not my first choice. I went to college to learn architecture, only to find that outside the actual drawing and design I didn’t have the heart for it. Design was always the direction I was going towards, for a while I played around with clothes (not seriously/ as a hobby), but it wasn’t visual enough for me. I wanted see in front of me what I had created and you can’t do that with clothes like you can with shoes. Shoes have a very ornamental nature about them, something you can pick up and study, but also wear it out which is quite a rare thing. I spotted a pattern cutting/ design job at Cheaney, and that’s where it pretty much started.

2. What is the hardest thing about being a bespoke shoemaker?

The hardest thing about being a shoemaker is the balance of organization, crafting and quality. Shoemaking is a real hard and physical job in many different areas, it can also be a very messy job because of the inks and crafting with a knife. This can make it very hard to keep the shoe perfect all the way through production, in fact you can make 90% of the shoe and in the last few operations, one slip of concentration and the shoe is a reject.

3. What is your favorite thing about being a bespoke shoemaker?

Creation is my favorite thing. In my perfect world I would create samples all day long. But the design can be broken down into areas, i.e. lastmaking, pattern cutting, sole making, polishing etc… I get great satisfaction from seeing all these areas complete as the shoe goes through these stages.

4. What other bespoke shoemakers do you admire?

Dimitris Gomez, John Lobb Paris, Pierre Corthay, Cleverley, Foster & Sons, to be honest I don’t get to see much of what the other guys are producing these days because it’s hard to get out of the workshops, and I don’t spend much time on the web.

5. What is your least favorite thing about the shoe industry?

My least favorite thing about the shoe industry and many other industries for that matter, is companies living off their past reputation rather than the shoes (or products) that they are making now.

6. What is your favorite model out of all of the shoes that you make?

I can’t pick a favorite model, there are so many I like, and my taste changes all the time, which is part of having a creative mind. It’s impossible for me to choose.

7. What can we expect from the future of Gaziano & Girling? –Where do you want to be in 10 years?

To be honest I want G&G to remain exactly the same in terms of quality, just a little bigger and to expand into other leather goods. I really think that we are taking shoemaking to the extreme when it comes to quality with our new Deco range, in fact I would go as far as to say that this range is better quality than many bespoke shoes I have seen.

8. What can you tell me about the Deco range?

TheDecorange will be released around the 3rd week of January with it’s first appearance at Pitti Uomo.

It will start at 1250 ( inc tax) which will include lasted shoe trees and a handmade box. The Deco range are very sculptured looking shoes, and have been based on a lot of old samples I have seen that were produced a lifetime ago. The Deco range has more hand-finishing and attention to detail (compared to RTW). For the moment, the Deco range will only be available through our exhibitions as well as ordering over phone or through mail. This will change in a few months when we will have them on display in Savile Row and maybe some stock in shops.

9. What piece of advice can you offer to aspiring shoemakers?

To aspiring shoemakers I would say: Its a long hard road, so be patient 🙂 Learn as much as you can from as many people as you can, learn your about your customer and cater for them rather than your own taste. Desire and business have to be finely balanced and at the end of the day, if you are good, people will come find your talents.

Thank you Tony!!!

Well, that concludes the interview and I hope that you have enjoyed it and that it may have answered some questions that you may have had yourself. I will try and produce an interview a month from someone in the shoe industry but don’t hold me to it, because not everyone is as nice as Tony, which might lead to them not giving me the time of day.

-The Shoe Snob

14 thoughts on “Tony Gaziano (from Gaziano & Girling) Interview”

  1. This is a fantastic step forward Justin, and what better way to kickstart it then with one of the new masters in the industry!

    I hope Laszlo Vass is on the list, as his masterpiece “Handmade Shoes for Men” was one of the manuals of enlightenment for me, as I’m sure was the case for many shoe freaks.

  2. Benjy – Glad that you enjoyed!! I will do my best with Mr. Vass but I don’t know how involved he is anymore?? His book is great, I too read it and am a big admirer of his shoes.

    -Justin, “The Shoe Snob”

  3. Hi Justin

    Congratulations on following your dream and your interesting writing about it!

    I probably haven’t met as many people in the shoe business as you have but in my experience they have mostly been open and passionate about sharing a bit about their world. But without a doubt, Tony and Dean are exceptionally nice and a pleasure to meet.

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and have been wanting to get in touch because I felt we share the same kind of love for shoes and craftsmanship. While I would love to get into making shoes like you are doing, different circumstances have made me express my fascination in another way.

    I am living in Seoul, South-Korea, where it is notoriously difficult to find good shoes, let alone a tradition and appreciation for shoemaking. In order to do something about it, I decided to halt my previous career and set up a business importing and retailing high-quality European men’s shoes. We are now in the process of opening our first shop here in Seoul and I’m excited beyond measure to be in some form part of this wonderful world of craftsmanship, appreciation for quality and details, and the history behind it all.

    What prompted me to finally write a comment here, was the mention of Laszlo Vass.

    I have had the pleasure of meeting Mr Vass last autumn together with his daughter Eva. Even though these days he is not as much involved as he used to be, he still cares enormously for the business, the quality and tradition, and the people working for him.

    Should you ever have the chance to go to Budapest, I’m sure he would make time to meet with you.

    All the best on your way and I’m looking forward to hearing/ reading from you.


  4. Reto: Best wishes for your venture. I know how costly it is to stock high-end shoes, but I’m sure a setup like Leather Soul’s will be the ideal in Seoul.

  5. Hi Benjy. Thank you very much for your good wishes. I’m sure if we can convey our own pleasure in shoes to the people here we can create something great. Should you ever come to Seoul, don’t hesitate to visit us. Cheers, Reto

  6. Dear Reto

    First off, thank you for sharing and being a dedicated reader. It truly makes me happy when I come to know that my blog is being appreciated by others.

    I admire your tenacity with getting good shoes to the people of South Korea, the fact that you stopped your career shows true courage, drive and dedication and with those three things, I am sure that you will be successful in your ventures.

    Once your site is up and running let me know so that I can use your pics to give you some publicity, like I do for Leffot and Leather Soul, if that interests you?

    Thanks for sharing about Laszlo Vass. I would assume that he would be a nice guy and would help others (interested in shoemaking) since he actually took the time to write a boot about shoemaking to try and help spread knowledge about this beautiful art.

    I am definitely going to try and go to Budapest within a year, especially since my wife would be ecstatic to do so. That way we can both be happy about going!!

    Well, Reto, thanks again for sharing and I am truly happy that you enjoy my blog. Take care and best of luck with your shoe shop!

    -Justin, “The Shoe Snob”

  7. Dear Justin

    Thank you very much for your kind offer. I’ll happily tell you once we have more on the site than now. It shouldn’t be more than a month because we’re expecting our first deliveries within the next weeks. If you like, you can register for our newsletter on the website.

    In any case I’ll stay in touch and I’m looking forward to hearing more from your own adventures and thoughts as well.

    Best regards

    PS: I’m sure you’ll like Budapest. My wife and I had much too little time there but even then we could see that it is a beautiful city.

    PPS: If I ever have the time I’d love to make my own pair of shoes – just for me, as a hobby, but I certainly hope that one day I’ll have the chance to get hands-on myself.

  8. Reto – Perfect, I just subscribed! Please do stay in touch and make your dream of making a pair of shoes happen, it will never come if you just hope for it, you have to go out and do it. There are several courses in Europe to do so! Let me know and I can put you in touch with those who offer the services. Thanks again for sharing and for reading.

    Shoeman – Thanks for the compliments, I am glad that you enjoyed the interview and my blog!

    -Justin, “The Shoe Snob”

  9. Thanks for subscribing, Justin, and for the encouraging words. I’ll definitely do it. At the moment its just a matter of lack of time. If you want to do something right, you have to give it its due attention. So I’ll do first things first and then take the next step 🙂

  10. Reto – No worries, I will be excited to see the shoes that offer. By the way, do you know where Laszlo Vass has his RTW shoes made? I would truly appreciate that information if you know. I understand about the ability to go out and make the shoemaking thing happen. Right now, it would definitely seem that you have much bigger and better things on your plate. And I am sure that once you are fully immersed into this industry and the connections that you will start making, the shoemaking step will become much easier.

    -Justin, “The Shoe Snob”

  11. The Vass RTW shoes are made in the same manufacture that the bespoke shoes are made in. By the same people, and as far as I could see to the same standards.

    In my view, this is one huge difference to most (all?) of the other makers who have a clear difference between their RTW and bespoke production. In terms of value for money, I’d say Vass is lonely at the very top.

  12. Jusitn, This is a very intriguing blog and I am enjoying everything you have blogged about. Especially the artical on how sloppy people are dressing and not taking pride in how they look. Good one.

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This blog was created to not only show the journey of one man who wanted to make the shoe industry the best it could be but also the share all of the knowledge gained along the way. 

Ultimately this blog is about seeing men wearing better shoes through education and sharing what is out there that deserves recognition. 

Click the link to read more about me and my journey to make this all happen!