Women with their knack of paying attention to detail and forever chasing the shoe thats a perfect balance of fit & form have always ruled the footwear market. However, men too have become very particular about their shoes, whether it’s the style, the material or the construction. The fashion conscious male wants their cabinets to be decked with functional, yet fashionable pairs of shoes. So, let me run you through a couple of pointers that break down the modern elements of a bespoke leather shoe.
The Sole and The Welt
As I’m sure you are aware, the bottom of the shoe is the sole, which is the part of the shoe that sits below the wearer’s foot. It comprises of three layers namely, the insole, midsole and outsole. The Upper is the whole part of the shoe that covers the foot comprising of vamp (the section that covers the front part of the foot), quarter (the section found on each side of the back of a shoe) and the linings (a layer to increase the shoe’s comfort and lifespan). Then comes the welt that is a strip of leather used to connect the upper to the outsole. The Upper and the Sole together make the whole shoe.
The Throat and The Toe-Cap
To delve further into more detail, the throat of the shoe is the opening where the shoe tongue is fixed, that is bridged by the laces. We have the toe-cap that is added to the front of the shoe for strength and extra protection from wear and tear.
Talking about the appropriateness of leather, there are a plethora of skins, treatments and tanning methods available that make a significant difference to its quality. Calfskin is extremely durable leather that can last for years if maintained well. There is patent leather which is a glossy leather with glassy mirror sheen, and is by far the most commonly used formal shoes material. Most ateliers also incorporate suede as it is a light material to wear, and highly suitable for dry months.
Having high quality shoelaces, preferably made of waxed cotton, tied in a certain way is a prerequisite to a sharper and a cleaner look. I would recommend you opt for an open lacing system with flat laces for Derbies/ Brogues, but a closed lacing system with round laces for Oxfords. Also an insight: The thinner the shoelaces, the better the quality.
As for their styling, for your corporate events and meetings, prefer classic brown whole-cuts. If you are planning to attend an evening soiree, wear black patent leather balmoral oxfords that go with your tuxedo. If you are feeling experimental, a pair of Chelsea boots paired with chinos can really make you stand-out, and add some flair to your suit game.
Purchasing a pair of bespoke shoes can be a big decision as it is usually worth a king’s ransom. However, if you are equipped with the right knowledge, and if you truly understand the value of hand-made craftsmanship, it is always worth the investment.
Co-founder and Director, SS HOMME – Sarah & Sandeep