The small world of bespoke bootmaking is in full swing.
After a few dark decades, the gentlemen’s understanding and passion for the work of master bootmakers has become intense, and this interest seems to be here to stay !
Before continuing, let’s clarify a few semantic issues one may have about shoemaking : when we speak about a bespoke bootmaker, we refer to an artisan creating a pair of shoes from the ground up. This includes the hand-carving of the last based on the client’s wishes and measurements, and all the other steps to create a unique piece from start to finish, according to the traditional techniques and savoir-faire.
A true bespoke bootmaker starts from a client’s measurements to create a unique last for a specific client. Thus, the bespoke craft is not to be confused with made-to-measure and handcrafted shoes using existing lasts that can be altered (which can be of great quality as well, but bespoke is a different animal sold at a different price).
As it often occurs in the sartorial world, Japan is at the forefront of the bespoke bootmaking revival. Indeed, many new and young master bootmakers are opening their workshops to face the increasing local demand like, for instance, the excellent Masaru Okuyama, Yohei Fukuda or Tye Shoemaker.
Also on the rise are once confidential names such as Stivaleria Savoia in Milan (we love their boots !), Norman Vilalta in Barcelona, and Saskia Wittmer in Florence. The modern gentleman’s keen interest in bespoke bootmaking is allowing many artisans to prosper and reach new audiences.
Today we set the spotlight on four remarkable houses and their artisans. Though different in style, size and price ranges, we believe these four names are doing great work and creating authentic pieces of art.
BERLUTI BOTTIER : A NEW COLLECTION OF BESPOKE MODELS
Berluti’s bespoke bootmaker line-up is of the highest grade : Patrick Rock, Anthony Delos and Jean-Michel Casalonga are bona fide masters of the craft – and for the first time, the three artisans designed a full collection of bespoke models, along with in-house creative director Alessandro Sartori.
PG’s photographer Andy Julia shot an exclusive sneak-preview of the collection. Those who already know the work of Anthony Delos will recognize one of his most emblematic models as part of the line-up. Please be aware that the sheer beauties pictured below might induce a few migraines…
MARIO BEMER : AN EXCEPTIONAL AND COMPETITIVELY PRICED BESPOKE
Brother to the sorely missed Stefano Bemer, Mario Bemer opened a small workshop-boutique in downtown Florence, after parting ways with the new Sefano Bemer operation.
His team includes Japanese bootmaker extraordinaire Seiji Miyagawa, a man fully dedicated to his craft who, in my opinion, remains highly underrated as of yet. Seiji was trained in Japan, France, and of course Italy by Stefano Bemer himself.
The bespoke models at the Via Miaggo workshop are absolutely stunning and the prices at Mario Bemer remain relatively reasonable at the moment (for this level of craftsmanship).
Mario Bemer also has a nice ready-to-wear collection that we, at PG, like a lot (see our 2015-16 shoe review Here). Any shoe lover passing through Florence should definitely plan a visit at Mario Bemer.
AUBERCY : HIGH-CLASS BESPOKE IN PARIS
It’s been a full year since Aubercy relaunched traditonnal bespoke. Today, the gifted Yasuhiro Shiota, yet another Japanese artisan of the highest caliber, is manning the workshop, crafting stunning, elegant and sober bespoke shoes.
Xavier Aubercy has fixed a limit of 20 pairs per year of bespoke production in order to give Yasuhiro the most precious gift of all for a bootmaker : time !
Aubercy bespoke answers the call for purists who love the undeniable class of a discreet pair of high level shoes.
STEPHANE JIMENEZ : THE COMEBACK OF A HIGHLY RESPECTED ARTISAN
This is a PG exclusive : Stéphane Jimenez, master bootmaker in Bordeaux, France, Compagnon du devoir and highly respected artisan among his peers (see our interview of Anthony Delos Here) is about to resume his bespoke activity !
See below for a few shot of Stephane’s masterwork, crafted for his admission at the prestigious Compagnons du devoir ring of artisan in 1995 : a superb pair of motorcycle boots with an added piece of protective leather for the area of the boot in contact with the gear shift…absolutely stunning.
Stéphane earned his stripes working for the very best workshops in the trade, like John Lobb Paris and Stefano Bemer. After 15 years as a tradition cobbler in Bordeaux, Stéphane has (finally !) decided to go back to his roots and open a bespoke workshop in his city.
Here is a sneak peak of what you can expect to see coming out of the Jimenez atelier :
The workshop will be divided in two parts : one section dedicated to last-making only, and the other taking care of the crafting of the shoe itself. Please note that Jimenez atelier will not be open to the public, as it’s located at Stéphane’s home. All appointments will arranged at each customer’s home or in nice venues like an office or hotel.
Beware: annual production is announced to be limited to 15 pairs, which will make Jimenez shoes especially exclusive to own, particularly for lovers of the French school of bootmaking.
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– Berluti Bottier : Berluti Bottier bespoke. All pictures © Andy Julia for Parisian Gentleman.
– Mario Bemer : Mario Bemer Su Misura. All pictures © Lyle Roblin for Parisian Gentleman.
– Aubercy : Aubercy Grande Mesure.
– Stéphane Jimenez : Stephane Jimenez Bottier (web site in construction).