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Bespoke shoes: the new must-have for men

The modern man wants more from his footwear, and Italy’s leading brands are stepping up, offering everything from personalisation to the full made-to-measure service

Hannah Lewis / © Katie Wilson-Ells
Hannah Lewis,

On the spring/summer menswear catwalks experimental shoes were very much in evidence. Dolce & Gabbana’s casual espadrilles came printed with the same bold, medieval-style prints that adorned trousers and sweatshirts. Gucci decorated feet with floral prints, bold colours and tactile velvets, and studded ankles with spikes. Bottega Veneta started an unexpected trend for socks with sandals, and Emporio Armani’s dress shoes came printed with paisley on top of chunky cut-out soles.

Men and their shoes
Wardrobes are becoming less formal, and neckties and the like are no longer everyday necessities, leaving space for shoes to be more central than ever in men’s wardrobes. While ready-to-wear brands are successfully harnessing the power of the shoe – footwear may be the first item that a customer buys from a label they haven’t explored before – it’s the specialist firms that people return to time and again.

Men are notoriously reticent when it comes to experimentation in fashion, and when they do embrace something a bit different, they turn to a tried and tested name: where better to buy your statement shoes than from a label that’s been furnishing you with luxurious staple items for years? Alberto Guardiani, for example, is one of Italy’s foremost footwear specialists and it is increasingly catering to the daring male dresser, with options such as suede camouflage and zebra-print pony skin car shoes, and cobalt-blue woven flatforms.

A need for newness
These styles may not be for everyone, but the need for newness in the world of men’s shoes goes further than a fleeting catwalk trend – every man should own at least one pair of standout shoes. For those who prefer their style to err towards the classic, bespoke and made-to-order options are the way forward.

Master craftsmen
At Fratelli Rossetti, excellence in craftsmanship has always been paramount. For over 60 years the family company has been at the forefront of the shoemaking industry, so it’s no surprise that the team has quickly responded to the desire for individuality in men’s footwear. Take the tailor-made service, for example. Available exclusively at the brand’s flagship store on Via Montenapoleone, clients can now have a pair of Fratelli Rossetti’s luxurious shoes made just for them. One of the brand’s master craftsmen is assigned to each client throughout the whole process, from the initial appointment to the delivery of the final product, resulting in a truly bespoke shoe that will fit perfectly and will also feature the owner’s name, handwritten on the internal heel cushion.

Go bespoke
This bespoke range comprises around 20 models and is available in Fratelli Rossetti’s most luxurious range of materials – from rare calfskin to iguana and crocodile hides – as well as numerous colour options. The brand has also recently launched a made-to-order service, through which customers can create their own take on one of the brand’s classic styles, including its Brera loafer, which was named after one of Milan’s most artistic districts. The service has expanded to include the option of Fratelli Rossetti’s Toledo leather, which is hand-painted using an artisanal technique, making each pair of shoes unique as well as luxurious.

Fratelli Rossetti is not the only brand that has recognised a shift in men’s shoe desires. At Salvatore Ferragamo, the Driver shoe has always been a top seller, and so when the label launched its made-to-order service it was clear that this style should be offered to clients. Available at selected flagships worldwide, the service allows men to create their own version of the Driver shoe. More than 100 variations are offered for the upper body, sole and hardware, and the list of colours and materials is very impressive. The service is rounded off with an extra personal touch: a lettering process to let you truly make your mark on the shoes.

The new must-have
Heritage brands these may be, but Fratelli Rossetti and Salvatore Ferragamo show that they have their sights set firmly on the future; it’s this ability to work modern approaches and technologies into classic methods that makes them so successful. The best men’s shoes are contemporary and unique, but crafted by experts using knowledge that’s been passed down for generations. Crucially, these new styles and services recognise a growing trend in men’s footwear, as fashion-conscious clients take more risks and look to express their individual style through their shoes. And what better way to do this than with a shoe that you’ve had a hand in designing?

No longer satisfied with the small range of options once available to them, stylish men increasingly want more from their shoes. Shoes should never be afterthoughts as these are the only accessories we can’t leave the house without. For decades the label ‘made in Italy’ has been a byword for quality in the world of shoes, so if you’re going to do something, do it properly: make it your own, and make it Italian.



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