Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 21 April 2017

Six years on - bespoke boot service

Welcome back good shoe folk....this week we had the pleasure of revisiting a pair of bespoke boots that we made over six years ago.

Six years wear and tear
This was their first visit back to us for a service and, aside from a layer of dirt and some water damage to the toe, they were looking pretty good!

The sole has been well worn, especially at the toe as you can see below....

Water stained and dirty
and the top piece was worn to half way through the rubber, so the customer had timed the service perfectly. We used a stiff brush to remove the loose dirt and then we gave them a good clean with shoe cream before we started the service.

Cleaned and creamed

We applied a rubber sticker sole to give the leather soles greater longevity. Then we replaced the heel top pieces and refinished the sole and heel edges with dye and wax.

Then we got to work on the uppers. We creamed and buffed them twice to really nourish the leather and to ensure that we had got rid of the embedded dirt.

First coat of polish

Then we applied a coat of navy polish, using a polish brush to work the polish into the welt/upper join. We left the polish on for a couple of hours before brushing it off with a soft brush.

Second coat of polish left for several hours and buffed off
We repeated the polish and buffing and once the leather had a good lustre to it we focused on the toes.

Buffed and military shine on the toe
Using water and polish we worked up a good shine.

High shine, new rubber sticker sole and heel top piece

Finished and ready for delivery
Then we packed the boots in shoe bags and delivered them back to a very happy customer. We will see them back again to replace the sticker sole as it wears through and the elastics will need replacing soon, but the customer should enjoy at least another year of wear.

That's it from us for now. Until next week, happy shoemaking!

Friday, 14 April 2017

New Bespoke Shoes

Hello once again, gentle shoe folk of the world. We hope you have had a lovely week and we also wish you a good Easter. We are both looking forward to four days of holiday, chocolate and, fingers crossed, sunshine

This week we are going to share some recent bespoke shoes with you.

In our experience, customers come to us for many reasons - some in pursuit of their dream shoes; others for the experience of commissioning a bespoke piece; and many come because they have feet which do not fit the averages which standard, ready to wear shoes dictate. This can be for many reasons - wide feet, narrow feet; wide or narrow heels; high instep; bunions; sensitive feet - the list is long.

So it is our job to make them shoes which fit them correctly and are comfortable. It is also our job to make the shoes as handsome as possible and this is where the skill of a bespoke shoemaker comes in. We have to use our design skills to enhance the aesthetics of the shoes, paying particular attention to proportion, design lines, seam positions, and colour choices

The following shoes could all be described as fitting non average feet, but which all look elegant, well proportioned and stylish

First up is a derby summer shoe designed to be worn in a hot climate. They are made of a lightweight veg tanned baby calf in a very pale tan - the skin comes unglazed so we polish it up at the end to a lovely burnished finish. We have used a sky blue kid for the quarter linings and a veg tanned soft calf for the vamp linings.

This customer has painful feet and bunions, and we have given him room inside to make them comfortable, but with some careful padding, we have smoothed the contours to make the finished shoes more shapely.

We think they look really handsome.

And the customer is very happy. This is what he wrote in a recent email to us.

"I just thought I should let you now that you have actually solved a life long problem for me. The last one month has been absolute bliss for me feet wise. Not a single moment of discomfort or irritation. I can't remember when last I felt this pleased and confident. The shoes fit perfectly and sometimes it feels as if I am not even wearing them. I must confess that initially I thought the pinching and burning would return but that was all in my mind because now I can walk and stand for hours without any bother. "

Hearing that is extremely gratifying and is one of the best aspects of bespoke shoemaking.

Next up is a pair of navy blue oxfords for an older gent who was given the shoes as a gift for a significant birthday. No specific problems with the feet, but as we age, our feet expand and lose the fatty layer which protects them and so we can feel discomfort and tiredness in our feet.

Again, we used a lightweight Italian calf and soft lining for extra comfort.

We think these shoes are elegant and extremely wearable. The customer agrees because he came back for a second pair.

The straight cap breaks up the vamp and the high shine on the cap enhances this.

Love this colour. Dark shoes tend to hide unusual contours a little better than light shoes.

And last is a pair of derby shoes for a customer who has sensitive feet which hurt if compressed. So he chose a round toe shape to give him more freedom to move his toes. So although there is plenty of room to move his feet inside the shoes, they are tight enough not to crease across the vamp. Another happy customer.

And that, as they say, is a wrap. We wish you all a lovely Easter and will see you all again next week. Until then, happy shoemaking!

Friday, 7 April 2017

Easter Shoe Sale and a burst of Barkan desert boot colour

Welcome back shoe fans. It's time to get your summer wardrobe sorted out, so with a choice of nine summer shoe colours to choose from ...all on Sale....and a delicious range of Barkan desert boots available to order, we've turned stylist this week! 

First up the Barkan desert boot. Now, with so many styling options we think the desert boot is one of the most versatile items of footwear in your wardrobe. (And if you don't have a pair now's the time to invest). 

Summer colours from left to right: Saxmundham, Aldeburgh, Woodbridge and Eyke
I don't know about the weather where you are, but English Spring's are notoriously changeable. You can leave the house in the morning in a scarf, coat and gloves and be in short sleeves by lunchtime! So a low boot, with socks is the ideal. 

Roll down your jeans when it's cool in the morning and evening...

The seemingly "vintage" look of the M-65/field/fatigue jacket is a great and versatile piece to own. It pairs greatly with a pair of boots (in this case, some Clarks suede desert boots) and can work in a variety of styles. In the Trooper, the wine/burgundy color of the chinos creates a unique, yet appealing interaction of colors along with the neutral tone of the sand suede desert boots.:
They look great with cargo pants and chinos  
And roll them back up when it gets warmer...

Or, if you are in slightly warmer climes, then pair them with a rolled down pair of socks and shorts...

Dallas Shaw Instagram { Trend alert: chihuahua socks } #liketkit @liketkit:
Style them with some fun rolled-down socks 

Or go sockless!

As GQ recommends

See? Super ver-sa-tile!

Now for the summer resort shoes. 

Again, great with a slim fit chinos...

but even better with shorts...

 and jeans...

or bubbly :)

Until next week, happy shoemaking!

Monday, 3 April 2017

What's New In The Tool Shed - Punches, Dividers and Tack Lifters

Welcome back shoemaking fans! London is in full bloom as Spring takes hold of our green spaces and, now that we have moved the clocks forward an hour the evenings are getting lighter and the dark mood of Winter is lifting. Wonderful stuff! 

Here's a trio of tools which are now on sale in our Tool Shed tool shop  ... useful little beauties. 

First are dividers. These are great for marking out the holdfast and welt, getting nice parallel lines.

Next up are some high quality German hole punches. They are just an example of the different widths available...they go right up to 40mm...super sharp for creating your own brogue and medallion designs.

And finally the tack lifter. Even if your nippers have one if these on the end a separate tool is always worth having. They'll pop out any reluctant nail with ease, specially in those hard to reach places round the toe or heel.

Nip over to the Tool Shed if you're tempted.

And that is it for this week. Until next time, happy shoemaking!

Friday, 24 March 2017

Summer Shoes Spring Sale

Welcome back shoe's spring time which means it's sale time in the Shoe Shop

If you're looking for a great pair of summer shoes you can kick on and off the Winkers Resort Shoe are for you in UK sizes 3 - 12 including half sizes. Our Easter Sale Price £144 (rrp £199) 

Winkers Resort Shoes left to right - Margate, Brighton, Cromer

Winkers Resort Shoes left to right St Ives, Southwold, Pembroke

Winkers resort shoes left to right - Dunbar, Whitby, Broadstairs


A few of the popular fringed Crays are still to be had in sizes UK 8 - 10.5

In tan 100% Irish linen... Irish linen...

And blue Irish linen
Finally here's another glimpse of our new, more formal, evening wear resort shoes...designed to get you out and about in style this summer... from beach and pool parties to dining al-fresco. 

We've also adjusted the lasts slightly, so those of you with a higher instep should find a more comfortable fit. 

Croc velvet, 'hair-on' or dappled velvet

Dappled velvet, 'hair-on' or croc velvet
Until next week, happy shoemaking!