After two and a half years I finally received my first Stefano Bemer bespoke shoes last month. And what beauties they are.
I was initially measured by Stefano, who also oversaw the creation of my last. But it wasn’t until earlier this year that I had a fitting, due to Stefano’s unfortunate passing and the following disruption to the company. I’m glad to say that hasn’t in any way affected the quality of the output, largely due to the same staff (particularly Masako) being involved in their construction.
These are the best-fitting first pair of bespoke shoes I have ever had from a maker. My best fitting overall are probably the Gaziano & Girling Adelaides, but that was a second pair on a new, refined last made by Daniel. Hard as it is for anyone saving up for their first pair of bespoke, the second pair is inevitably better than the first. It was the same with Cleverley and doubtless it will be the same with Bemer.
For while they are the best fit of any first commission, there are couple of small things Masako and I will probably refine. There is a bit too much space across the joints, for example, and the instep should also probably be cut a little shallower.
But please understand: these are tiny imperfections. The shoe is an absolutely superb fit, better than every RTW shoe I have worn by some distance, and better than all bespoke but one. The foot is supported beautifully through the arch; the precise, high shape of the heel cup means that the foot is held solidly, even without lacing the shoe; and the toes have freedom to move even within the lovely, chiselled last.
I picked up the shoes on the Wednesday afternoon during Pitti, on a baking day when my feet were already swollen and tired. I then (probably foolishly) proceeded to wear them throughout the afternoon and evening, across Florence’s cobbles and up and down its curbs. Sumptuous comfort, not the tiniest ache or pain. (Of course, I then rested them the next day in Milan.)
As to style, this is a classic Bemer shape – relatively wide in the points, but coming into a short, sharp toe. The toe cap is elongated, which lends further prominence to that area of the shoe. The only downside of this design is that the toe puff (the reinforcing layer of leather inside the toe) is not as long as the cap, leading to wrinkling on either side of the line of brouging. I can see some people disliking this, but I don’t mind it.
The sole is thicker than most, which is also typical of Bemer. I like it on tan shoes like this, though might have specified something thinner on an office shoe. Bemer are also not great yet at adding colour variation to the upper – whether through burnishing, polish or dyes. This is changing, but means that there is some reliance on polishing in some subtly different colours (something I have already started on with gusto). Having said that, the quality of the leather is superb – only Gaziano & Girling and EG Top Drawer shoes take a polish so well.
Prices: €2250 for bespoke, €850 RTW, both ex-VAT.
Finally, Tommaso Melani (pictured higher up) took a little video of me wearing the shoes for the first time. There is a lot of joy in those silly little jumps and taps. [Please refresh page if the video does not appear]