Nathan Brown has seen a lot of feet. He has worked at Nike, Adidas and Puma, and now has his own formal-shoe shop, Lodger, just off Savile Row.

But my feet still surprised him.

I recently tried out the Lodger measuring system, which features a 3D laser scan to build up a virtual model of your foot. You insert your foot into a machine about twice the size of a shoebox, and several little cameras map its contours. That electronic picture is then used by a CAD (computer-aided design) system that suggests lasts, sizes and widths.

Fitting shoes is as much an art as a science, though. The CAD fit that Nathan showed me was perfect across the ball of the foot (the widest part of the foot – from the joint where the little toe joins the foot to the equivalent with the big toe on the other side). But it left too much room behind the heel.

Part of shoe fitting is also psychology. Men with wide feet tend to wear shoes that are a little too narrow for them. Initially, this is because they can’t find shoes that are wide enough. But over time, they become used to that fit – so anything that is the correct width will feel too big. The same goes for men with narrow feet: they feel most comfortable in shoes that are a little wide.

With me, the laser scanner showed that the right foot was a centimetre shorter than the left – almost half a size difference. Lodger can provide men with two shoes that are different sizes through its custom ordering service – which is what makes it unique. But as with narrow or wide feet, men with differently sized feet have got used to wearing shoes the same size. Put them in differently sized shoes and it feels very odd.

Nathan is discovering all of this over time. He set-up Lodger, and started applying this new technology from the world of sportswear, just over a year ago. One customer did order shoes that were different sizes, but it felt too strange after years of shoes that were either slightly big or slightly small on one foot. So Nathan no longer recommends that.

What surprised him about my feet was another measurement the scanner made. It showed that I was very wide across the ball of my foot (indeed, the smaller foot was slightly broader here) but I was also very high across the top of the foot. As regular readers will know, historically this has led me to buy shoes that are slightly too big, as nothing else would accommodate the width across the ball.

However, when we tried some shoes on, it quickly became apparent that my feet weren’t quite as high across the top as we’d thought. The lacing on each shoe was tight all the way up on the size I required to fit my width. It turned out that the arch was rather low, so even though the foot as a whole was tall, it was lowered by the shallow arch.

I understand if this level of detail is dull. But for me it was great. I’d discovered why I normally buy big shoes and why in-soles don’t normally help (they lift the whole foot up, restricting the width across the ball where I need it most).

Nathan quickly reached the same conclusion as I have (though it took me a lot longer and a lot more money). Tongue pads. By filling out the tongue of the shoe, these allow me to push down the back of the foot while keeping the ball free to use the full width.

As regular readers of this blog will also know, tongue pads are not easy to find. Most cobblers in London (and cordwainers for that matter) don’t stock them. But just like the self-professed shoe dork he is, Nathan wanted to find a solution. So he cut the heel off the in-sole we had been using, trimmed it down and tried wedging that underneath the tongue of my shoe.

It worked perfectly. Nathan gave me the cut-up insole and instructed me to stick it underneath the tongue of another pair of shoes with rubber cement (available at your local DIY shop). Any excess should dry and be able to be rubbed off, and if it didn’t work there would be no damage to the shoe itself.

I plan to try it on a pair this weekend. Nathan is keen to hear the results and I will report back here as well.

It is worth pointing out that at Lodger I experienced the best customer service I have ever had in a shop, as well.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
7 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Zenith

Simon,

Not quite so shoe related but I’ll add my letter to this most recent comment. Incidentally, this latest post has given me something else to think of when shopping for the brown pair I’ll be needing.

Zenith

Dear Simon,

Firstly may I take a moment to express my pleasure at discovering your blog at such a timely moment, as it is providing me with a wealth of useful knowledge the more I delve through it. Having moved to London as a graduate on a job-hunt in an appalling market in the New Year, I am fortunate enough recently to have secured my first position, working in finance, starting in just over a week.

I will say that I am not a complete stranger to quality gentleman’s attire, in that my father insisted on my 18th birthday in buying three pairs of quality shoes from Barker’s and Grenson’s, as well as a lovely navy cashmere overcoat, and the use, comfort and style they have given me in 6 years service has shown me the value of quality and appropriate fit. Two of the pairs have recently been sent back to the factory for refurbishment ready for my start date, but there are many other areas which need immediate rectification. I shall leave the background at that, seeing as my life story will be of no interest to anyone else! In short, I am needing to expand my wardrobe rather rapidly to ensure I am ready to join the rat race with at least some pride in my own appearance.

My main concern is at gauging the appropriate price point vs. quality that will suit me as a young man with perhaps a lesser understanding that I would like of the issues you discuss on your blog. I know comfort/fit/understated class when someone else more knowledgeable introduces me to it and it seems a revelation to me, but I am less well versed at finding it myself and mistakes can be expensive. In short, I feel much of your blog is pitched at a readership above my current sartorial understanding, covering the fine details, while I am uninitiated but in short term need of doing some serious shopping; I just don’t want to mess it up! In addition, I cannot help but feel suspicious of many places that feel ‘pseudo-tailor’ to me, dressed up to give the impression of elegance, but ultimately with clueless staff selling boxes rather than well fitted clothes.

I was wondering, given that I have been unable as yet to find the information I’m after on your blog, if you might be generous enough to point me in the correct direction in terms of shops I should be looking to visit for a variety of needs? From years past, when perhaps I knew little better, I own a light charcoal, faintly blue-pinstriped French Connection suit, and a solid beige Ted Baker suit, in addition to the aforementioned shoes & overcoat, but am otherwise in need of the following:

– A traditional navy-blue single breasted suit.
– A trusted location to take my existing suits, to be examined and adjusted accordingly to make them less ‘off the shelf’ and to fit my frame: 6’3″, 14 stones, 32-34″ waist, broad shoulders. Though not at such a high cost that it isn’t worth bothering given the value of the suits in question.
– A pair of brown shoes to accompany my beige suit.
– An entire selection of shirts/ties/cufflinks to match my current suits and the third I intend to buy.

My apologies for just throwing such considerations at you, as I know so much of this can be subjective. At the moment, however, I am completely unsure whether somewhere like Jermyn Street is way above my station? Whether the likes of T.M. Lewin or Hawes & Curtis are considered ‘high street’ by tailoring standards? I have been wandering Jermyn St./Savile Row/all around Liverpool St. but the choice on offer is paralysing to a newcomer. I am not sure whether £25 buys me a half-decent shirt, or £200-£300 a half-decent suit? Whether I should be getting traditional leather as opposed to suede for the brown shoes if to be worn for business? If it is of any help, those are the sorts of figures I feel perfectly comfortable spending: £150-£300 for the shoes I am looking to get, £200-£300 for the suit.

In summary, I’d be perfectly happy spending from £1000-£1500 to outfit myself with a new suit, have the existing ones altered if needed, 6-8 shirts, 4 or 5 ties, some cufflinks, perhaps a new belt, a new wallet, and the new shoes as well. In your opinion am I being naive in thinking I can get all that, at good quality, for that sort of money?

If you have managed to wade your way through the above, then many thanks indeed! Any help or advice you are able to offer will be most gratefully received. I happened to be between Moorgate and Liverpool St. yesterday at about 17.00 to 17.30, and of all those that streamed past me I could count only a handful that appeared well dressed, at least to me. Most of the young men my age looked more like boys on their way home from school, slack ties, unbuttoned jackets, tatty Burton’s black shoes and all. I would like to take a bit more pride in how I turn up ay my first day at work, spending a higher proportion of my income to do it if necessary.

Thanks again for reading, if you do of course, and indeed for the blog which I shall continue to work my way through. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the sunshine we seem to be blessed with at the moment!

Regards.

Nicko

The laser system certainly seems a clever solution to a problem that many men such as yourself suffer from. But can we expect a review of shoes bought from the shop soon? It will be interesting to see if the quality matches the fit.

Also, I couldn’t resist mentioning a memory from my childhood. Many people growing up in the UK in the 80s will remember a machine Clarkes used to have. You would stand on a platform and metal plates would mechanically slide to the length and width of your feet. I was always terrified that there would be a mistake and my foot would be crushed!

I don’t think there was any point to the machine really. The assistants would essentially give you shoes in the nearest size! I’m not suggesting that Lodger’s machine is equally gimmicky, but am interested to hear of the results.

Whats rthat place in Budapest that does handmade shoes?

LauSpeaks

People undoubtedly go through their whole lives without ever measuring their feet for a pair of shoes that really fit properly. Recently I was told by a doctor that my shoes were bad for my feet (Converse Chucks as a matter of fact) even though I bought them because others do not really fit me. My wide feet will not fit into normal shoes. They are not even abonormally wide so it makes me think that many many others must suffer when daily they squash their feet into wrong shoes.

I found this guide to help measuring your feet;

Measuring Guide