Epicure (Indonesia) - - CONTENTS -

Tony Gaziano, be­spoke shoe­maker

Be­spoke shoe­maker Tony Gaziano might be jet­ting off across Asia and Amer­ica, but he fully em­braces his English roots. He shares with Jes­sica Chan the hid­den gems of his sto­ried home.

He’s made shoes for Ralph Lau­ren and Ermenegildo Zegna Cou­ture and dressed the feet of celebri­ties like Henry Cav­ill and Léa Sey­doux. Tony Gaziano, co-founder of Gaziano & Gir­ling, is one of Sav­ile Row’s finest be­spoke shoe­mak­ers.

I met with the debonair 45-year-old at Kevin Seah Be­spoke’s ate­lier – where his readyto-wear and made-to­order se­lec­tions are avail­able – dur­ing one of his cov­eted trunk shows. While nurs­ing his whisky, the English­man shares how he, an ar­chi­tec­ture school drop-out, made a serendip­i­tous de­ci­sion to join the de­sign depart­ment of a shoe fac­tory and, even­tu­ally, rose to be­come an in­ter­na­tional au­thor­ity on made-to-or­der leather shoes. “Shoes grew on me,” he chuck­led “I knew I wanted to be in fash­ion or lux­ury, but it was only af­ter 18 months on the job (at the fac­tory) did I re­alise how much I en­joyed it.” Sub­se­quently, Gaziano worked at English shoe­mak­ers Ed­ward Green and Clev­erly. The lat­ter is where he met busi­ness part­ner (and the other half of Gaziano & Gir­ling), Dean Gir­ling. He later roped Gir­ling into Ed­ward Green. He’d made the last and leather, while Gir­ling would com­plete the stitch­ing of each shoe. Six years on, Gaziano & Gir­ling was born in sto­ried Northamp­ton­shire, Eng­land. From there, he’d make reg­u­lar trips to Sav­ile Row where their flag­ship store is; their New York show­room; and wher­ever their many trunk shows take him.

What makes Gaziano & Gir­ling stand out from other be­spoke shoe­mak­ers and lux­ury brands?

It boils down to Dean and my deep un­der­stand­ing of qual­ity, from the ex­per­tise of last mak­ing to the leather used. You’d get a prod­uct that’s al­most or­na­men­tal, as if it is some­thing you can ad­mire. We fly down to big cities of Asia – in fact, our ini­tial clients were Ja­panese and Amer­i­cans – just for fit­tings. We bring the Bri­tish be­spoke shoe-mak­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to our clients’ doorsteps.

I am guid­ing clients on this jour­ney to find that per­fect pair, es­pe­cially for those who are new to be­spoke shoes. When they move from high street and de­signer la­bels and onto a new level of lux­ury (that I pro­vide), their world opens up to shoes in 100 dif­fer­ent shades, styles and shapes. For ex­am­ple, what type of shoes for what oc­ca­sion, what colours go with which fab­ric and so on. Now, they are like kids in a candy shop.

Share with us a trunk show tra­di­tion.

We used to hold trunk shows cum par­ties at Grand Hy­att Tokyo. There’d be 40 to 50 peo­ple in one room, hav­ing drinks and try­ing on shoes. When the ex­cite­ment set­tles (and hunger comes knock­ing), we would pop down to The Oak Door for a steak din­ner. I still think it’s one of the best meats I’ve ever had; and the best ser­vice one could ever ask for.

You have a flag­ship store along

Sav­ile Row. Why base your­self in Northamp­ton­shire?

I am al­ways telling any­one who vis­its to get out of Lon­don and go to the coun­try­side.

One of my favourite spots is this non­de­script restau­rant called Thai Gar­den near where I stay in Ket­ter­ing. It’s the most ran­dom place. You have th­ese two guys from Hong Kong cook­ing Thai, Malaysian and Can­tonese food in one kitchen that serves a max­i­mum of 20 peo­ple. Even our friends from Ja­pan and other Asian cities have sang its praises. For a more elab­o­rate af­fair, there’s The Oak Room Restau­rant within The Ge­orge Ho­tel of Stam­ford. It’s this 15th cen­tury coach­ing inn that’s been trans­formed into a pri­vate ho­tel. I al­ways feel like I’m back 400 years in time when I’m here. They have this show­piece of a roast beef they would serve straight from a sil­ver domed wagon – an ab­so­lute clas­sic.

And Northamp­ton­shire is teem­ing with his­tory. There are many cas­tles but the most sig­nif­i­cant is the Althorp Es­tate, which was once home to Di­ana, Princess of Wales. It was founded by the Spencer fam­ily of politi­cians and ad­mi­rals, who has stayed there since 1508. The sprawl­ing es­tate is home to cot­tages, farms and wood­lands that play host to a va­ri­ety of events, in­clud­ing the Althorp Food & Drink Fes­ti­val.

What are your favourite haunts along Sav­ile Row?

I love Asian food so China Tang at The Dorch­ester with its au­then­tic Can­tonese fare (in­clud­ing dim sum) comes to mind im­me­di­ately. Sar­to­ria is my go-to Ital­ian Restau­rant. It has just been ren­o­vated so it has an amaz­ing am­bi­ence to go with the equally fan­tas­tic food by chef Francesco Mazzei. You get dishes from his home­town of Cal­abria and sur­round­ing ar­eas. It be­ing just 100 yards away from my shop is even bet­ter.

China Tang Althorpe Es­tate

Grand Hy­att Tokyo

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