FINDING YOUR SOLE MATE Bespoke and custom-made shoes
Netra Venkateshwaran lists the services of luxury labels that have perfected the art of custom footwear
Apart from completing your outfit, the shoes you wear enhance your overall appearance. Be it sharp oxfords for a corporate meet or sporty moccasins for a round of golf, a pair of shoes can make all the difference to the way you look and feel.
Have you ever thought of customising your shoes? With more and more labels offering customisation services, this is no more far-fetched. Listed below are luxury fashion houses that offer bespoke or made to measure shoes that can create soles to match your souls.
Christian Louboutin offers a made to order service for wedding shoes. The pattern of the bride’s or groom’s outfit can be imprinted on your choice of footwear. The first step is to pick a type — options include stilettos, pumps or flats. A sketch is drawn in the Louboutin store based on a picture presented by you or as per your description. After a detailed discussion, the shoe can either be designed to imitate the embroidery on your bridal wear or the colours of the outfit, or both. The sketch is drawn in India and then sent off to the shoemakers in Paris to bring the illustration to life. To add a personal touch, your initials and anniversary date can be printed on the sole of your shoes. Louboutin also offers a service that allows customisation of shoes with tattoo designs in its stores located in Paris, New York, Hong Kong, Los Angeles and London. They house its Tattoo Parlour that offers this service. The staff will take a picture of your tattoo and send the image to Paris to be worked on.You can then pick the type of shoe, fabric, embroidery, colours and the placement of your tattoo design. The French shoemaker also offers a service that creates special order shoes. This service, available worldwide, makes sense if you’re looking for a specific colour on a specific type of shoe. You can select from a wide range of categories for both men and women, including loafers, sneakers, stilettos or pumps. They can be bought at about 30 to 35 per cent higher than the usual retail price.
British shoemaker John Lobb has been around for the past century offering customers a “By Request” service across its global stores, including those in India. Overall, it has a list of around a hundred original styles with which you begin the customisation. The first step is to pick the type of shoe you desire from oxfords, derbies, buckles, loafers or ankle boots. One of the bestsellers under this is John Lobb’s Levah, a name coined for its exclusive sneakers. Choose between grain leather or suede, and then select the body for your shoe. To dress it up, you can pick from museum calf (calf leather that has been pre-treated in order to obtain a marble-like effect), crocodile or lizard skin. Next, you can select from a palette of 15 shades. While customising the sole of your shoe as per your foot size, you have an option to pick John Lobb’s weatherresistant rubber soles that assure added comfort. The next stage is selecting a suitable width for your customised shoe out of the four available widths. The final touch is the embellishment of your shoe with buckles; choose from gold, rose gold, anthracite and palladium colours. To complete the product, your initials are monogrammed on the sole. johnlobb.com
At Louis Vuitton, prolific craftsmen based in Fiesso d’Artico, a suburb of Venice, create customised shoes under its “Made to Order” service. In stage one, you describe the shoe you desire, on the basis of which a sketch is drafted. The shoe drawing is then converted into a 3D wooden model that is mapped out according to the precise measurements of your foot. Next, you select the type of shoe you’re looking for — oxfords, derbies, buckled shoes or ankle boots. According to Louis Vuitton, the third stage is fundamental as this is when you pick the leather you’d like your shoe to be dressed in; options include alligator, patent, ostrich, grained, suede or python. After the leather is selected, you go on to choosing the colour for your shoe. A swatch with eight shades including black, navy and green is laid out. If you pick alligator or calf skin leather, LV artisans will complement it with a patina (thin glossy film) finish. The fifth stage exemplifies the “importance of the sole”. Influenced by Norwegian stitching, the shoe’s sole is thus assembled. The final stage is where you can select the width of the shoe for utmost comfort. Louis Vuitton’s trademark and your initials are hot stamped on the sole to complete your very own customised masterpiece. In India, LV stores can guide you through bespoke services online and send your customised order to the brand’s flagship store in Paris. The process takes about six to eight weeks and sometimes even as long as six months to complete. louisvuitton.com
Salvatore Ferragamo, famous for fine footwear, offers semi-bespoke services with “Customise your own
Tramezza*”. These shoes are manufactured with an extra layering between the sole and insole, offering “durable comfort” through added cushioning. Ferragamo’s website guides you through four main stages of creating your shoes.You can pick from three shoe styles — cap-toe oxford, double monk-strap and monk-strap boot. The body of the shoe is customised in the next stage. All three styles can be crafted out of either smooth calfskin, shrunken calfskin, suede or crocodile skin. There is a shade palette for each leather type — ten colours in smooth calfskin, four in shrunken calfskin, five shades for suede and six hues in crocodile skin. Finally, the last stage is the imprinting of your initials on the sole of the shoe, in order to complete the personalisation. In India, the bespoke services have been discontinued but you can still avail of the personalised tramezza service via Ferragamo’s website. ferragamo.com Q