Bespoke shoes vs ready-to-wear shoes

26 January 2017
Bespoke shoes vs ready-to-wear shoes
While the quality of a suit (and even a shirt) is dictated by its material, workmanship and fit, shoes often aren’t subjected to the same level of scrutiny – but should this really be the case if they’re being worn alongside tailored garments? Are ready-to-wear shoes sufficient when the rest of your outfit is perfectly fitted, or do bespoke shoes actually offer enough to warrant going through the process of having a pair made? We’ve looked at the difference between ready-to-wear shoes and bespoke shoes to help distinguish when and where each of them are appropriate.
Before we start comparing the 2 types of shoes however, we should probably give a bit of background information in regards to what goes into creating a bespoke pair of shoes.

The bespoke shoe process

If you aren’t familiar with what goes into making bespoke shoes, then the next couple of paragraphs will give a brief overview of the process. Many bespoke shoes tend to take a number of weeks for the final products to be made, our process can take around 12 weeks, and as such knowing what the process involves helps to appreciate the length of time it takes to receive the end product.
The process begins with your foot being measure along with you having the chance to get your initial ideas across on how you’d like the shoes to look. This includes choosing the type of material (from a range of the finest leathers), colours and design. The measurements taken are then used to create a “last”, which is the mould used to create your shoes.
The next step involves your pattern being designed and cut so it’s ready to be sewn together. It’s at this stage that your shoe starts to take shape. You can expect an intermediate fitting at around 6 weeks (in our process) which is used to ensure the fit of the shoes is just right and once this has been established they are then finalised and made.
So that’s a quick overview of the process that goes into the construction of a bespoke pair of shoes, but what factors should we judge them on when setting them apart from ready-to-wear shoes? We’ve taken a look below.

Fit

The fit of bespoke shoes is an interesting topic – while many believe they offer superior comfort, there are also some who question this. From our experience it’s fairly simple, a craftsman who takes complete care in their work will help to ensure the fit is exceptional.
While many ready-to-wear shoes might feel fine on the feet, the comfort that a bespoke shoe can offer can’t be fully appreciated until it is worn. Additionally, for those who struggle to find comfortable ready-to-wear shoes, usually because of the shape of their feet, bespoke shoes offer the perfect solution. Therefore, when it comes to the fit, it’s hard to look beyond a bespoke pair of shoes.

Style

Ready-to-wear shoes are available in abundance, and while there might be a fair few on the market, choice of style can be restricted by what is popular within the current season’s trends. Now if you aren’t too concerned about the style and you’re willing to compromise on the shoes not looking exactly how you’d like them to, then opting for ready-to-wear shoes is fine.
However, if you’re after your dream footwear to complete your look then it’s hard to look past a bespoke pair of shoes. When it comes to the style bespoke shoes are unmatchable. You have the freedom to personalise them as you please, not only granting you a shoe that fits perfectly with your outfits but also a shoe which is completely exclusive to you.
As with any bespoke garment, there is a chance that personal taste and the freedom to customise will lead to something awfully garish shoes being created, but we trust our readers know their style.

Practicality

A final thing to consider is the practicality of bespoke shoes vs ready-to-wear shoes. This comes down to a number of factors which we can briefly touch on. To begin with the main thing to consider is whether you have the time to have a bespoke pair of shoes made. You don’t want to rush the process so if you have an upcoming event you need them for, be sure you allow enough time to have them produced (taking into account potential alterations).
In addition to this you should also consider the when and where you’re likely to wear them. A bespoke shoe should be cared for just like any other bespoke garment, and so if it’s for a special occasion then we certainly recommend going bespoke. However if there’s a a good chance they’re likely to experience heavy wear and tear then you might be better suited to leaving them for another occasion.
The final thing to consider is what you’ll be wearing them with. If you want your bespoke shoes to really look the part then they should be worn with a tailored suit. Having wonderfully crafted shoes sat under and ill fitted suit will leave them looking out of place and redundant in making an impression on onlookers.

A final word

Many people have a misconception that the main purchasing driver behind wanting to own a bespoke pair of shoes should be associated with the comfort and fit they provide as opposed to the aesthetic nature of them. This is primarily because they don’t feel that shoes capture people’s attention regularly enough to warrant purchasing them purely for the style aspect. However, those of us who appreciate the finer elements of fashion understand that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Bespoke shoes not only offer comfort but also style which can be appreciated by onlookers and the wearer.
While there are terrific ready-to-wear shoes available, the mention of shoes rings an old quote in our head. To paraphrase the quote in question, “if a man is to be judged by the shoes he wear”, in our eyes, he’d better be wearing his best pair – and that certainly means bespoke.
 
Abbas Mahmood
Abbas Mahmood
As a lifelong purveyor of fashion, Abbas has been writing for Hemingway Tailors for 2 years, keeping readers up to date with style trends and delivering a regular insight into the world of tailoring.
Sign Up
Exclusive offers, news & updates from Hemingway Tailors
First name:
Last name:
Email:
Instagram