Bespoke Shoemaking

At Charlie’s Design, the client is at the heart of all we create. His unique allure, absolute comfort and vision of elegance drive the design and the creation of our infinitely customizable footwear. Here, everything begins with an encounter. It all starts with a conversation between two people with a mutual passion for the craft. The master shoemaker is there to listen to the customer’s wishes, to understand his habits and tastes, and also to share vast know-how, to dialogue and make suggestions. The kind of fit, the soles, the linings and patina; calf-skin leather or a more exotic skin; tattooing …. Every option is explored to define a unique pair of shoes. While our calf-skin leather is most often selected for its splendid patinas, for custom-made items a wide array of exotic leathers is also available, including ostrich, crocodile, stingray, lizard or snake for a shoe, or for certain details on the upper. All of our rare and exotic leathers are selected with respect for the preservation of species.

During the last century, a hand-made shoe that perfectly fitted its wearer – that met the highest quality standards, therefore lasted for decades if treated suitably with shoe tree and repaired regularly – used to be a natural clothing item of a decent man. Today, its exclusivity and luxury is emphasized, although this traditional shoe made carefully after measurement may be worn for many years, as opposed to big-volume shoes that always change according to trends of fashion.

The measurement is a process, which, besides taking the exact measures and drawing of the feet also includes gathering thorough information from the customer on his customs, lifestyle and experiences related to his shoes. The ideal time for taking measurements is the morning period (on appointment) because the feet is more relaxed this time of the day. We prepare the bespoke shoe within three weeks, after which we inform our Customer and invite him to our shop to put on his first pair of bespoke shoes, when we can check the result of our work together. If the customer found that the last we made specially for him after his measures produced a satisfactory pair of shoes, we keep it for three years after his last order, so that he may order another pair of shoe from our catalogue or by visiting our shop, which we also deliver for him when it is ready.

DESIGN

Taking a piece of hornbeam, a hard and dense wood, the last maker will gradually sculpt the shape of the shoe with his knife. The wooden form, or last, will then be smoothed with a rasp or sandpaper. This particular technical stage requires great precision to ensure that the wooden last respects the morphology of the foot and retains the elegant shape of the shoe.

PRODUCTION

The pattern cutter begins by covering the last with an adhesive canvas on which he draws the model; he will then use the canvas to reproduce the model on a cardboard pattern. It is from this pattern that the cutter, using a skiving knife, will cut the pieces of leather that will constitute the ”upper” of the shoe (the top part). These pieces of leather will then be pared, assembled and sewn by a specialist craftsman.

THE FIRST FITTING

During his second appointment, the client will try on a prototype of his shoes, a provisional model made of leather but not the final leather, created from the last by the master shoemaker.
This is when the last, on which the shoes will be made, can be perfected. The fit, room for the foot, and of course the style are evaluated. The shoemaker notes the points to be corrected to adjust the fit as closely as possible to the foot, in order to produce the perfect fit of the shoes.

IMAGINATION

In the bespoke workshop, at every stage of the bespoke shoes construction, craftsmen can accommodate any desire the customer may have for personalization, so long as it is in keeping with the identity of the House. Thus the vamp pattern maker can customize a flowered tip on the vamp: drawings or initials, the possibilities are infinite. Original embroidery may also be used to embellish the “plateau” of a loafer.

PATINA

Last but not least, the colourist brings the final touch: the patina, a know-how unique to Charlie’s Design Fashion House. The client chooses it from among endless possibilities, and this final detail gives the bespoke shoes their unique personality, the personality of the wearer.

DELIVERY

After 2-3 weeks of work, the bespoke shoes are ready. Delivery is always a moving ritual for the master shoemakers in the workshop: each pair is presented to the client in a calf-skin leather box personalized in the colors of the shoe’s patina, as are of course the bespoke shoe-trees, whose colors and customized details are also chosen by the client. Last-maker, pattern-maker, cutter, stitcher: the craftsmen in the bespoke workshops will have completed no less than 250 technical maneuvers to create the perfect shoe for the client.