Updated: Oct 29, 2019
Alright, I know what you're thinking right away ― 'these are some very odd shoes'. Hear me out.
Over time, I've come to the conclusion that buying sustainably for your wardrobe doesn't just refer to investing in durable and well-fitted garments or shoes ― it also includes acquiring what resonates with your own personal style.
This is, perhaps, easier to achieve with tailoring ― considering the abundance of cloth and tailors that you could use to create garments according to your taste. But this isn't the case for shoes.
What I've observed so far in the footwear market is that there are two main ways you could get a custom patina for your lovely shoes.
1) You purchase a pair of shoes and then give it to a patina artist to achieve your desired effect but in return sacrificing the aspect of comfort. 2) You commission a bespoke pair from one of those few houses in the world that usually come with a high price tag.
It just doesn't seem like there is a middle ground.
This is the main reason why I decided to partner up with Artisan M Bespoke, a Hong Kong-based shoemaker, to provide an alternative to everyone who may be interested.
For readers who recall my shoemaking experience from back in 2018, you may find the naming of these two brands is somewhat similar. This is because the workshop's owner, Marco Lam, has officially launched a bespoke line to his business.
Now, he might be an unfamiliar name for many of you, but Marco has been offering bespoke shoes with hand-dyed patina through a word of mouth basis locally in Hong Kong, on top of his 23 years of experience working in the handbag-designing and shoemaking industry.
When asked where he got his passion for shoemaking from, Marco points out that it is just a part of his DNA. His parents used to operate a shoemaking factory in Hong Kong in his early life where he first fell in love with handcraft artisanry ― it's only natural for Marco to continue his family heritage.
In any case, Marco has provided three different models to showcase a variety of finishing that Artisan M Bespoke could offer, as shown by the pictures below.
Doubtlessly, the possibilities in designs for the upper are limitless. Whether it's any of the models that are being featured here or a particular style you have in mind, they are all possible for Marco to create. It is bespoke, after all.
Now obviously, you don't have to go for the boldest shoe design or the most unusual patina if that's not your taste ― we want you to have a pair of shoes that you are going to wear in the years to come as well.
Hence, for example, it could be something as little as the toe shape of the shoe that you customize ― whether it would be a classic English-chiseled toe (like the first two) or a more conservative round toe like the monk-straps we have here (picture above) ― it doesn't need to be much.
As for the patina itself, it would be created through the hand-dyeing of an unfinished crust leather, which has already been tanned previously, in order to achieve your ideal shade.
This would then be followed by a series of polishing with various Saphir Médaille d'Or products to ensure the leather is durable enough to resist the elements.
Moving on to the outsole, Marco tends to have a particular design that he usually sticks with.
Hand welted, closed-channeled stitching, and a bit of beveled waist, the outsole that the artisan is offering certainly features the hallmark characteristics of what other high-end bespoke footwear would have as well.
In terms of longevity, we would also advise you to add a metal top cap if you tend to wear out the tip of the sole much faster than the rest of the leather. The sole would be just as elegant regardless.
However, if there is a style of the leather sole that you would really prefer, you could always let us know during the designing process.
Once you have the design sorted, we will be measuring the size and the shape of your feet to create a custom-made last, which the shoemaker will store information of it in his database permanently, for future reference.
Depending on the situation, we will then be having either one of two fittings with a pair of trial shoes in order to get the fit that you are happy with. During this process, I will be personally checking and taking notes on any adjustments required to improve your last.
After that, we will begin the production on the final pair. It will then be delivered to you, along with a custom shoe tree, as soon as they are ready.
And that's pretty much it.
I will most likely be showcasing some of the models here in the upcoming few months, which I will announce either here or via my Instagram account.
In the meantime, you could send me a private message through Instagram or my email (email@example.com) if you are interested in commissioning a pair or even just to have a chat about that.
Finally, please let me know if you have any questions, I would be more than happy to assist you with that.