Bespoke Shoes Part 2

Bespoke Shoes Part 2

I had heard about Simon Schäppi, the Zürich based bespoke shoemaker from a number of people and was excited to meet him. It took a few phone calls and texts to get his number and make an appointment.


I arrived, soaking wet- my umbrella bent inside out, on a grey Zürich day. Simon invited me in for a cup of earl grey and a biscuit, BBC radio playing in the background- I felt at home straight away.


Instead of a classic brogue or oxford, he showed me some motorbike boots he had made. Simon owns a 1930s British motorbike- style from toes to tyres!

In a cabinet in his studio I spotted a petite pair of ladies shoes- “I made those for my wife, she likes to dance and finds it hard to find shoes in her size, so, I made her some.
Simon`s own shoes catch my eye, a deep burgundy brogue, with wonderful detailing, styled with very cool socks- of course, his own design.

Having studied industrial design and spent many years in front of a computer Simon decided it was time to get back to “hands on” design. Having taken part in a shoemaking course in Switzerland he knew this was his passion. It is not easy to find a placement in this field, so as to learn from the masters. Simon was offered a 4 years training placement with John Lobb of London. Simon still works for Lobb from his base in Zürich.

“Lobb sent me to Scotland to learn from one of the oldest standing members of the Lobb team. I am grateful for all the experience and training that I received at Lobb. I have very fond memories of my time in the UK.”

What would you advise a first time client?

„It is good when they have an idea of what they want before the appointment.
I aim to make the perfect design for their feet and their lifestyle.“

John Lobb holds two royal warrants from his royal highness the Duke of Edinburgh and his royal highness the Prince of Wales. On the wall of Simons` studio hangs a framed certificate stating his qualification and that “he works to the highest standard he can attain with diligence and enthusiasm”. I can see exactly what they mean!

Heading back to the office, skipping past the puddles I think of all the shoes I have owned, loved, had blisters from and eventually had to throw away with a heavy heart.
Handmade shoes, on the other hand, do not need to be “worn in”- with the right shoemaker they fit like a glove and last a lifetime!

A pair of made to measure shoes from Simon Schäppi takes up to 6 months. Prices vary depending on materials used and design, prices usually start at 3500 Swiss Francs.

Thank you Simon, it was a pleasure to meet you and visit your studio.
Schuh Manufaktur Simon Schäppi

Bespoke Shoes

Bespoke Shoes

-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.“

Handcrafted George Cleverley shoes for first time customers can be measured and fitted in their London showroom or on overseas visits (locations and dates can be found on their website). Their ready-to-Wear range is available in their showroom or on Mr

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.