-Style, comfort and exceptional craftsmanship-
Following in the footsteps of numerous celebrities, politicians and well-known professionals it was an honour to visit George Cleverley`s showroom at the Royal Arcade in Mayfair. Their crafted shoes have been seen in films such as -The Man From U.N.C.L.E.- directed by Guy Ritchie and worn by Sir Michael Caine in -The Kingsman-.
A pair of George Cleverley hand crafted shoes are a work of Art, created by a small in-house team. I met Pierre Balesi, the Retail Manager to tour the premises and gain insight into this bespoke world.
How long does it take to make a hand finished shoe?
It takes up to 12months till you receive your first George Cleverley shoe.
After having your foot measured and discussed design, a Last (a wooden model of your foot) is created and the shoe pattern developed. The client then has a fitting at 6months, checking the fit and style. This is a shoe that you will have your whole life, it must be perfect!
The lasts are kept in store, clients can order their next pair of shoes from anywhere in the world with the confidence that it will be a perfect fit. Follow up orders take up to 3 months.
What makes a good shoe?
Most important is the Welt construction; this is the rim that runs along the perimeter of the outsole. It`s primary function is to attach the upper shoe to the sole. Another important point is the quality of Leather and it`s breathability- have you ever had the feeling that your feet are sweating in your shoes? This is the sign of low quality material. Precision of work is also top on the list. For example, a mastered shoemaker even makes his own thread- a secret, developed through years of experience on which a good shoemaker is judged. Without good thread and stitching you won`t have a shoe that will last.
What would be your advice a first Time client?
Take a moment to understand the process, be patient as it will take time and get to know your shoe Maker.
Do you have a personal Highlight?
Every time a client tries on his new bespoke shoes and you see his joy. So, I suppose I experience a highlight every day.
And a shoe you won`t forget?
We were asked to produce a white buckskin shoe, it was impressive to see this hand crafted accessory materialize in pristine shape after so many processes.
Pierre showed me leather shoes that were in the process of being made. „Smell the leather“ he said- it had a strange scent. „This leather was recovered from a ship wreck in 1973. The Ship –Metta Catharina- was bound for the Mediterranean with a cargo of hemp and leather. The boat was hit by high winds and sank near Plymouth on the December 10, 1786.
At over two hundred years old, the leather survived due to a combination of traditional Russian tanning methods (soaking them in pits of willow bark and birch oil) and the black mud at the bottom of the ocean.“
Thank you to Pierre and the team in Mayfair for having me. It was inspiring to meet you all and learn more about the bespoke world of George Cleverley shoes.