Emirates Man - - STYLE | BESPOKE SHOES -

ould sir care for al­li­ga­tor, python or shark? Or maybe you’d pre­fer frog? Th­ese are some of the leathers you could choose for a pair of be­spoke shoes from premier shoe­maker Ber­luti.

The French com­pany has been making shoes since 1859. One of its most tal­ented bot­tiers, An­thony De­los, has been with Ber­luti for 22 of those years and be­gan his ap­pren­tice­ship at the age of 16. He has the ti­tle Meilleur Ou­vrier de France, a rare ac­co­lade that al­lows him to wear the French tri­col­ore on his work apron. Just one hand­shake of his bat­tered, strong hand is enough to tell you An­thony has spent years work­ing with the un­com­pro­mis­ing tools of a shoe­maker.

This Septem­ber, An­thony and his team will be in Dubai to pro­vide their be­spoke shoe ser­vice.


“I trav­elled around France for eight years learn­ing my job as an ap­pren­tice. I worked with a lot of old peo­ple and learnt many things. I love the crafts­man­ship, the tra­di­tion, and the history of making shoes.

** In 1993 I went to work in a vil­lage called Sau­mur in western France that is fa­mous for the French Na­tional Eques­trian School. I made boots for the horse riders. To be­come a boot­maker it takes ten years. But to be­come a good boot­maker, it takes 20 years. **

The process of making a pair of be­spoke shoes be­gins when the cus­tomer comes into our shop. For the rst ap­point­ment I need an hour with him to understand his style. My job is to ex­plain to the cus­tomer which kind of shoe is right for their feet.

** Tak­ing the mea­sure­ments is so im­por­tant. It takes only about ten min­utes, some­times even ve min­utes. To do my job well it’s very im­por­tant for me to understand feet. If the foot has a lot of lumps and bumps it’s more dif cult. Two men could have the same si e feet but the shapes are very dif­fer­ent. Feet are not dif cult. It’s the cus­tomer who is dif cult – just jok­ing. **

I come back to Paris and I make the last. It’s made from a very hard wood called charme and is made with a big blade, not a ma­chine. I give it to the ate­liers who make the pro­to­type of the shoe. When you make a last it has a lot to do with feel­ing and you have to make many lasts to understand them. If you give me a last I can tell im­me­di­ately if it’s a good one or not.

** Three months later we do the tting with the pro­to­type. I can tell if I need to make more ad­just­ments just by feel­ing. The cus­tomer doesn’t need to tell me if it’s tight here or loose there – I know. If my pro­por­tions are good there shouldn’t be space around the foot and the foot shouldn’t move. The shoe should t like a glove. **

Shoes take 40 to 60 hours to make. Boots morel like 100 to 120 hours. Once the shoe is made it must wait one week be­cause it needs to dry on the last.

** At Ber­luti we make be­spoke shoes from just one piece of leather. I’ve made shoes from shark, croc­o­dile and beaver. One man in Ja­pan wanted shoes made from frog leather. I used two frogs per shoe. **

The stitch­ing on the sole is done by a ma­chine. But the stitch­ing on the leather is done by hand. It’s very hard and tir­ing. My hands are black from bruis­ing when I make shoes. Stitch­ing is dif cult to learn and your hands must be strong. The nee­dle once went through my hand – it was OK, I didn’t go to hos­pi­tal.

** When I see a man walk out of the store with a pair of shoes I’ve made for him, I feel... happy.

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