Bespoke footwear – known to most as “custom” or “made-to-order” footwear – is a complicated arena in which to shop. The classical route is to find a custom shoemaker who understands your style, takes the time to get to know you, and then discusses in-depth what kind of shoes to make. This is true “bespoke” as it began in England.

Should you choose to go the truly bespoke shoe route, you can expect to spend, quite literally, years waiting for your shoes. If you go the other, faux-bespoke, made-to-order direction, the shoes aren’t likely to last quite as long and aren’t going to fit with the same precision, but you can have them in a reasonable time frame, and they will be expensive, about half to one-third the price of their more labor-intensive counterparts.

ALFRED & SARGENT’S

bespoke The Most Elite Bespoke Shoemakers Alfred Sargents Browning Purple Suede

Since 1899, A&S has been crafting shoes in the old style, with their business lurking in the Northamptonshire area; home of classic English bespoke.

bespoke The Most Elite Bespoke Shoemakers Alfred Sargents Carroll Oxblood MTO

Refusing to bow to many trends, they specialize in men’s traditional dress shoes, and that focus is apparent in their work.

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ANDREW MCDONALD

bespoke The Most Elite Bespoke Shoemakers Andrew McDonald ASYM DERBY YAK

Australia is too laid-back for customized shoes, but Andrew McDonald – formerly of Hermès in Paris and John Lobb in London – took them there anyway.

bespoke The Most Elite Bespoke Shoemakers Andrew McDonald LACE AROUND REVERSE FRISONE

A workman on a second-story shop in Sydney, he’s brought European tradition down under, offering shoes for men and women that have a distinctly Aussie sensibility with a classical dedication to quality.

BALLY

bespoke The Most Elite Bespoke Shoemakers Bally LAVENT Men   s leather tassel loafer in Mid Brown

Switzerland is mostly known for banks and chocolate, but Bally proves that masterful leather-working should be included on that list.

bespoke The Most Elite Bespoke Shoemakers Bally BRENT Men   s leather slip On loafer in Ink

With options for men and women, you can expect several fittings to get the shoes perfect, but when they are, they’ll put a spring in your step.

BERLUTI

bespoke The Most Elite Bespoke Shoemakers Berluti slip on Alessio

Each piece is cut by hand, sewn by hand, and even burnished by hand.

bespoke The Most Elite Bespoke Shoemakers Berluti personalised shoes

As much status symbol as they are striking bespoke shoes, you’ll pay dearly, but it will be worth it for the heads you turn when you wear a pair of Berluti.

BUCHANAN BESPOKE

bespoke The Most Elite Bespoke Shoemakers Buchanan Bespoke The Bonnie Prince Brogue

Made with even more love than hand-crafted bagpipes, the mixture of Tartan and Leather fabric at Buchanan Bespoke offers a distinctive level of showmanship for a pair of shoes.

bespoke The Most Elite Bespoke Shoemakers Buchanan Bespoke Tartan BroguesYou can pick your own combination of materials, allowing you to mix and match for honest individuality.

HEEL THE WORLD

bespoke The Most Elite Bespoke Shoemakers Heel the world HTW Avant Loafers

Heel the World seeks to single-handedly bring back the bespoke shoe.

bespoke The Most Elite Bespoke Shoemakers Heel the world Wisdom Knot

Based out of Africa, the company itself is philanthropic in that they train unemployed workers to craft shoes, giving them a valuable skill while also giving the world gorgeous, truly bespoke shoes; and saving lives.

JOHN LOBB

bespoke The Most Elite Bespoke Shoemakers John Lobbs Wells elegant evening shoe

John Lobb supposedly walked hundreds of miles in a pair of shoes he made himself to seek his fortune in London.

bespoke The Most Elite Bespoke Shoemakers John Lobb   s classic loafer style Lopez

That was 1851 and since then the shoes coming out of the company he made have been at the top of bespoke shoemaker lists the world over. Owned now by Hermès in Paris, John Lobb shoes are the best of French and English work combined.

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