We touched base with the gents from Double Monk to get a first hand account of the art of bespoke shoemaking from their second G.J. Cleverley ‘Trunk Show’.
Double Monk was born out of a passion for quality men’s shoes. When deciding which brands we wanted to carry, it was a simple case of choosing the brands that we knew and loved: Crockett & Jones, Edward Green, John Lobb and G.J. Cleverley. These brands are all English, Goodyear-welted shoemakers, companies that have stood the test of time because they refuse to compromise on quality. It is a privilege to represent brands that represent the finest in shoemaking.
When it comes to buying shoes, the next level in comfort, quality and elegance comes from a pair of bespoke shoes. The art of bespoke shoemaking is a skill maintained by a select few. As with bespoke suiting, it signifies a unique item created specifically for the wearer, fitting perfectly and speaking to his personal style.
Recently, we were fortunate enough to host one of England’s few remaining bespoke shoemakers, G.J. Cleverley, for their second Australian ‘trunk show’. Whilst we also stock their comprehensive range of ready to wear shoes, for over 60 years Cleverley have been making bespoke shoes for discerning gentlemen including Sir Winston Churchill, Humphrey Bogart, Ralph Lauren and David Beckham. Over the 14th and 15th of March, the CEO and manager George Glasgow Jr and master shoemaker Teemu Leppanen came out from England to take bespoke shoe orders from a select number of customers.
The first stage of the bespoke process is to measure the customer’s feet. Opening out his large ‘Imperial Book’ Mr Leppanen politely asks the customer to stand with a foot on each page. He then traces around each foot twice, the second time angling his pen underneath the arch of each foot to gauge its height. Using his tape, he takes a range of measurements, 15 to 20 depending on the idiosyncrasies of the customer’s foot.
With the measuring done, the customer can browse, with a fine single malt whisky in hand, the dazzling array of bespoke samples that Glasgow and Leppanen have arranged on Double Monk’s central table. Each style is simply a guide, however, with the customer free to dictate the design of their shoe. Finally, the customer can peruse a range of swatch books containing every conceivable leather as well as a few (mountain ram, hippo, elephant and python encrusted with diamonds spring to mind) that would never have occurred to us at Double Monk.
Upon returning to the Cleverley workshop in London, Leppanen, using the range of measurements he took at Double Monk, proceeds to hand carve a wooden last in the shape of the customer’s foot. This last is then used to create a shoe that perfectly mimics the shape of each foot down to the smallest bunion or ankle spur. Every stage of this process, the cutting (or ‘clicking’) of the leather uppers, the sewing of each part of the shoe, and the carving of the last, is done entirely by hand, ensuring that the highest quality and workmanship is maintained throughout.
Six months after the first measurements are taken, a half-finished ‘fitting’ shoe is ready to be tried on. At this point any adjustments can be made to ensure that each shoe fits as closely as a sock. The fitting shoe is then returned to the Cleverley workshop where it is altered and the sole is stitched on, again by hand. Once completed, the waist is hand-beveled and the uppers polished to a high shine.
G.J. Cleverley will be returning to Double Monk in approximately 6 months time. To keep informed, follow us on Instagram (@dblmnk) and Tumblr (doublemonk.tumblr.com).
– Double Monk
Images provided by Double Monk taken by Timelessman.com.au