No Busi­ness Like Shoe Busi­ness

Robb Report Singapore - - The Bespoke Issue - By CHRIS­TIAN BARKER

Re­garded as one of Bri­tain’s best men’s shoe­mak­ers, over the past 12 years, Tony Gaziano and his part­ner Dean Gir­ling have built their epony­mous busi­ness, Gaziano & Gir­ling, from hum­ble be­gin­nings in a back­yard work­shop into a thriv­ing man­u­fac­turer of fine hand­crafted footwear. We spoke with Gaziano about his path from rud­der­less col­lege drop-out to shoe­mak­ing mae­stro and ar­ti­sanal en­tre­pre­neur.

What made you de­cide to be­come a shoe­maker? When did the pas­sion for the craft take hold?

Tony Gaziano: I went to col­lege to be an ar­chi­tect. That was what I re­ally wanted to do at the time. But af­ter about six months, it didn’t ap­peal to me any­more. There wasn’t enough cre­ativ­ity in it, so I stopped go­ing to col­lege, much to my par­ents’ dis­plea­sure. And my fa­ther said, go out and get a job. I found one at (shoe­maker) Joseph Cheaney in Northamp­ton­shire as a ju­nior de­signer. I wasn’t into shoes at that time, but I wanted to get into some­thing in fash­ion and de­sign. When I went there, I thought I was go­ing to be draw­ing pic­tures all day. But I had a very old­fash­ioned boss and he said: ‘No son, get on the fac­tory floor — you can’t de­sign any­thing un­til you learn how to make it.’ I did that for about 18 months and was quite pissed off with it, to be hon­est. It grew on me though, and then all of a sud­den it was al­most like a but­ton got switched on, and I stood there and thought, I en­joy this. So it wasn’t a con­scious choice from the be­gin­ning. It was some­thing I got in­volved in and dis­cov­ered through work­ing in that en­vi­ron­ment that it was some­thing that I en­joyed do­ing and wanted to pur­sue.

Did you find you felt a par­tic­u­lar sat­is­fac­tion at the end of a work­ing day, be­ing able to look at phys­i­cal ob­jects you’d cre­ated with your own two hands?

Yeah, ab­so­lutely. I still get the same feel­ing and that is the rea­son why I’m still in the job. At spe­cific times dur­ing the day a pic­ture comes in your mind of some­thing that you want to cre­ate and it’s a great thing to be able to re­alise a men­tal im­age into a phys­i­cal prod­uct. And the jour­ney of do­ing that builds a lot of adren­a­line in me. There’s a lot of en­ergy, a lot of ex­cite­ment and if it fin­ishes and it looks the way that I wanted it to, when it’s done, I’ll prob­a­bly look at that shoe for the next month, 24 hours a day. I’ll be­come ob­sessed with it. I re­ally do get a buzz out of that jour­ney of cre­ation.

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