The best fit yet: Stefano Bemer tobacco-suede oxfords

Friday, July 15th 2016
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These bespoke oxfords from Stefano Bemer are the best fitting shoes I have ever owned. The zenith of - from a fit point of view - everything that bespoke should be. 

But before I go into the product, I want to talk about the style. Because whatever the brand, I would like to recommend this colour of suede shoe. 

Bespoke suede tobacco shoes

Men are naturally attracted to tan shoes. They're bright; they're shiny; they're particularly susceptible to building up a hard-won hand-polished patina. 

But they are not very versatile. Men, unfortunately, often wear them with navy suits - which pretty much always looks awful. Tan is a casual colour and does not suit a formal suit. 

Men also wear them with (slightly) more success with denim. It's still not the ideal setting (that would be a pale grey or cream trouser), but denim can take a lot of things. 

But a better option is a tan- or tobacco-coloured suede shoe, as shown here.

The suede immediately makes the shoe more casual, suiting it to denim or other casual trousers. You get all the colour attraction of tan, but without the formality of the leather.

Tan suede is never going to be as useful as dark brown - always the first choice for a suede shoe - but it is surprisingly versatile. And it is a gorgeous colour with flannel trousers, perhaps with a tweed jacket worn up top.

Stefano Bemer bespoke shoe sole bevelled

Now to the fit. I really liked the fit of my first pair of bespoke shoes from Stefano Bemer - tan oxfords, as it happens (I don't wear them with navy).

But there a couple of fit and make issues. A little too much room around the joints, and the toe puff not extending as far as the end of the toe cap. 

The fit through the heel cup and the support in the arch was superb (so much so that I videoed myself doing a little jig in them, which is on that post). But they weren't quite perfect. 

This January I showed them to Masako, and she made many little scribbles on the last. A couple of months later, I received the final pair and everything was right - the arch, the joints, heel, everything. Absolutely perfect. 

Bespoke is not an easy process, in any field. It is as much psychology as physiology. But when you've got it bang on, it is uniquely satisfying.

Suddenly it feels very strange when (as I did today) you put on a pair of ready-made shoes and they are not sculpted to your foot. They feel like they were made for someone else. 

Of course, you forget about that after a while. And unless there are any specific points of discomfort, you are left with just the aesthetic benefits of bespoke. But it's a hard feeling to ignore. 

Stefano Bemer bespoke from 2450 euros, plus initial 600 euros one-off fee for making the last. Fiddle-back make, as shown here, from 3600 euros plus that fee.

Stefano Bemer bespoke suede oxfordTobacco suede shoe texture

Photos: Jamie Ferguson @jkf_man

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nick inkster

Fully agree about tan leather; I’ve never gone any paler than cognac, which actually work really well with grey flannel of every shade. I have always described this colour suede as snuff, which catches the ever so slightly orange hint you get with this shade of brown.

Jhndiv

It happens that I have my tailor in Florence. Stefano Bemer would be the perfect fit for me in this
case for a bespoke pairs of shoes. But then again as you mention I basically would need to throw away my Lobb, Edward Green & Saint Crispins collection, because the fit of my bespoke shoes would be that great in comparsion. I’m scared that this would lead straight to bancrupcy 😀

gary

who isyour tailor there?

Bob

I do love the colour and in suede it is great for casual.

My version are from C&J which unfortunately are the top of my price point. They were never as rich/vibrant a colour as yours, which to be honest is fine by me, but as they’ve aged they’ve become duller and lighter in colour. Using protection spray (saphir) does make them a little darker again for a while but doesnt return the richness of colour. Is there anything that can be done short of redying them?

James

Bob, if I may – a good renovator spray can work wonders in restoring the colour and vibrancy to clapped out suede.

Bob

Thanks for the suggestion. Is there a brand that you’d recommend? Normally I buy from Saphir but they dont seem to have such a spray

James

I use a renovator spray from the same company I buy my driving loafers from.

http://www.bobbies.com/en/suede-nubuck-shoe-care/2141503903-suede-nubuck-renvator-spray-0080330003001.html

Winot

Simon – does Stefano Bemer still travel twice a year to New and Lingwood as mentioned on an earlier post? Or is it necessary to visit Florence?

Anonymous

Surely this just goes to show that all bespoke gets better with the second try? If you can convey your feelings about the product accurately that is, and how it could be improved… Do you ever feel that by flitting around so many tailors you slightly sacrifice this? No one tailor is truly intimate with your personal style/fit if you use so many (although maybe you are an exception as you write about it all publicly!)

Adam Jones

Funny enough I took delivery of a polo suede G&G loafer this week, I was worried about the shade a first – not being dark brown like my other suede shoes, but they actually seem to work better with my slightly more casual uniform, Jeans etc. Surprisingly versatile.

You are right on the tan shoes. I always used to be a massive fan many moons ago but now i see Tan shoes worn with navy suits (especially at weddings for some reason) and I cringe. Just because you can these days, does not mean you should.

Jeff

Absolutely gorgeous Simon! I am anxiously awaiting delivery on my first pair of Stefano Bemer’s (loafers). Anyone in the NYC area should contact the atelier and have a look in person as Tommaso is a gracious host.

Néstor Valiño Puigcerver

They are very beautiful Simon. Snuff/tobacco suede has always been my favourite colour when it comes to suede and I wear mines (Carmina semibrogues) with any kind of denim and chinos (white and brown mostly).

I agree with you all that people get wrong wearing tan/cognac shoes with navy suits, but somehow I find that sometimes that colour works well with navy, knowing that your are breaking the rules and that the shoes will definetely stand out too much. Maybe is the only classic rule I break from time to time.

David

What a beautiful colour and couldn’t agree more about tan and navy.
It seams to be a strong favourite with the TOWIE gang and those that sport those ridiculous ‘Honey I Shrunk This Suit’ brigade.

M

Hey S,
Very nice pair! I have a pair of EG desert boots in the exact same shade of suede and I do find them pretty useful (and beautiful) in casual settings.
I think before this one, your Adelaide pair from G&G was your best fitting one? Do you think that the SB pair now being a better fit on the margin is just a ‘coincidence’ or has something to do with Masako being very talented (and perhaps more so than the person who took care of you at G&G)? I am still hesitating between SB and G&G for my first bespoke pair…
Thanks much,
M

M

Hi Simon,
Sorry, my previous message might have been lost in the trail of comments. I would very much appreciate your perspectives regarding the fit of your new SB vs. G&G and in general whether you think SB is more likely to achieve the 100% perfect fit more than anyone else (including G&G) given your experience. Thanks!
M

John

Hi Simon,
They look great indeed! I would have liked seeing your entire outfit! Perhaps to be posted on Instagram?
John

Anonymous

Simon, I have that color suede shoe and a similar design made for me by Bontoni a few years back. I love the color but have always worn the shoe in the Fall and Winter only, as I do with all my suede lace ups. Am I being silly and just following an antiquated tradition?

Kev Fidler

Superb looking pair of shoes. I have a snuff coloured pair from C&J which I would love to wear more often if it would stop raining this summer. Very useful advice on colours to wear them with, Simon.

Marko

Hi Simon
Is second and consecutive pair in bespoke shoe world any cheaper? There should be some savings because the last should be created only for the first time? Maybe another question about Gaziano Girling Deco shoes. I can see that there are Deco models but you can also order normal model with a Deco last. What is the difference between these two (there is a price difference so there must be some difference in quality)?

Marko

Both are MTO options. There is a difference (quite big) if you order a model Like St.James 2 on Deco last vs model Deco Cooper for example.

How does this pricing model work in suits? Is the individual pattern made only once and there is saving on consecutive jackets/suits for the customer?

Bob

Appreciate its going to vary by maker but for those that dont charge a premium for the first pair, over how many pairs are they spreading the “setup costs”.

Secondly, for my ignorance, if you get a first pair of bespoke made with one toe shape (eg rounded) but want a second pair with a different shape (eg chiselled soft square). Is this pretty much going back to ground zero or can they leverage most the elements from the first pair? Thinking from both their effort and the likely outcome of the shoes

Bob

I realise they don’t explicitly charge but it’s built into the price, so I was wondering over how many pairs they spread the charge…. eg inc markup last costs £600, shoe costs £2,500, they charge £2,700 per pair and so their break even on the last is 3 pairs and additional profit is anything over that

Adam Jones

Marko, there are standard deco models made to “deco standards” slightly more handwork, tighter waist, and hand lasting. you can also do a MTO (or some RTW models are available) as you say on the deco last but it is not made to the same level as a true deco model. Just a standard bench made shoe with a different last.

gary

what looks good with this kind of colour but in leather is charcoal , it was a kind of fashion some years ago,, theres a good bespoke maker near novara asking 300 pounds by the way

BespokeNYC

Lovely shoes Simon! I’ve always rather enjoyed suede shoes for summer months as I think the more casual material goes well with cotton and linen trousers.

On a slightly tangential note, can you explain the benefits of leather soles? I recently had some EG monk straps made with a thin rubber sole and they don’t seem any more chunky than any of my leather soled shoes (with the possible exception of very high end bespoke models like yours.) Given they are much more practical, hard-wearing and (I would argue) comfortable, is there any reason I shouldn’t just get all shoes with rubber soles?

gary

there was a kind of “uniform” worn by Milanese in the eighties which was sky blue shirt with yellowish tie , charcoal suit ( a very dark grey) and tan leather shoes, it actually worked really well, you have to see it to appreciate it .Everyone has their taste but these shoes with denim would not look good ,they would go with light grey fannel.I just had a light grey flannel suit and I wear them with ox blood brogues which goes brilliantly

reuven lax

This is considerably less than bespoke from London outfits such as G&G, correct? Is this largely due to the cost of production in the UK?

M

Simon,

I think it is not totally fair to G&G to say that the SB is 2,450 euros as this price does not include the last making for the first pair (600 euros) but even more importantly the extra for the nicely handmade fiddleback sole (+1,200 euros) which G&G always include in their bespoke shoes. If you add those up, you get to 4,250 euros or 3,540 GBP with current exchange rate vs. 4,000 GBP for G&G. That being said, it is still a bit less expensive for a first order and give you the option not to have the fiddleback sole on some orders (+ it is by definition less expensive by 600 euros for all orders after the first pair as you will not have the one-off fee for the last).
I know that Tommaso travels to London from time to time but I imagine you still need to go to Florence for fittings or can you avoid that? If you have to, does it suffice to go only one time or you would need to travel there more often for the first order?
Thanks much,
M

M

Sounds great, thank you Simon

Matt

I’m gonna be the contrarian in the room, not because i want to stir things up mind you but I happen to love the look of blue pants with tan leather shoes, especially navy blue although I feel it looks great with jeans too. I feel this way because it acts as a nice balance if you are wearing a brown/tan jacket with jeans or to accentuate a color from your tie with a navy suit. Black with blue can look ok and cordovan can look nice too but the tan can give an outfit a nice pop. That said, it should be a very nice pair of shoes.

gary

never get rubber soles, look bad and some are really hot, leave well alone , have one pair forrain but one only

Bertie Wooster

How is polo different from tobacco/snuff as a colour? I guess it is a bit more orange? I would think that is also a very good colour and just as good with cream or light coloured flannel?

gary

http://www.cesarebaroli.it/luxury/prodotto/arabesk/
check this site out , were around 300 euro bespoke

Gibran

Hi Simon,

Lovely pair of shoes. You mentioned that the second pair of bespoke shoes always fit better so I was wondering if it’s possible to have adjustments made to the first pair based on whatever changes that you might have? Or are they final?

reuven lax

I have an old pair of tan shoes that I love – they are comfortable in the way that only well-worn shoes can be. Over time I’ve darkened them with polish – I’ve found that a few layers of oxblood polish adds a darker, richer tone to the tan shoes. I still wouldn’t wear them with a navy suit, however it’s made them far more flexible.

Thomas

The slow slide into becoming Bruce Boyer…

Lawrence Sanbourne

Hello, I’m in the US and am looking for black oxfords I can wear with a tuxedo (half the time) or a black audition suit. I find Allen Edmonds to be too chunky. I like the tapered waist and toe of To Boot NYC’s cap toe but on theirs and AE’s, there’s a gap above my metatarsals that causes unsightly folding during walking and unsightly creases misaligned with the cap stitching. I don’t need something crazy fashion forward, just not dowdy. Hoping to spend $300-500. Thoughts?

Anonymous

As with your other pair of Bemers the balance in shape and finish is perfect. I remember the first review wherein you put them on (new) and wore them for the day…with great comfort. Ultimately , this is the true benefit of bespoke. Of all the shoes you have commissioned I think the Bemers are the most appealing.

Jesus Gonzalez M.D.

Stefano Bemer will have trunk show in Miami are there prices inclusive of Vat and do you recommend their fiddle back make over their regular make is there any difference in the fit ? I have a pair made by Cleverley fit very well but thought I would try something different . Iam excited that some true shoe makers are traveling to Miami all you get here is your regular over priced glued on shoes from the major fashion houses. Wished that maybe some Neapolitan tailors would make their way here as I think their suits and jackets will fit the weather here in South Florida.

Luis

Hello Simon,
I’m from Portugal and I want to congratulate you for your work.
I’m waiting for 2 polos that I buy from your site.
My question for today is, if we can say that the color on your suede is polo color ? Like gaziano use in st James ?
Kind regards
Luis

Tung

Hi Simon,

The fiddle-back make is absolutely exquisite, but I am what justifies the price difference? Is it a particularly difficult operation to perform, and what advantages does it offer, specifically in terms of fit? Thanks for your reply.

Hugh

Simon,

The color on these are so wonderfully rich and summery! But will they work with your brown linen trousers (Langa, Dege & Skinner) or are they too similar in color/tone?

I have a similar pair of trousers, and these shoes are so lovely. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks much,
Hugh

Daniel

Hi Mr. Crompton,
I’m purchasing my first pair of made-to-order shoes, and I cannot decide if I’d like a toe plate (or any type of guard) or not.
I noticed this pair has toe plates.
Would you briefly cover its biggest pros and cons?

Thank you,
Daniel

E5han

safano never shoes just do it for me the slightly thicker sole and elongated toe beautiful! just a question regarding the value. I love the fiddle back but is it really worth a 1150 euro price increase ? 2450 is much more tempting.

Shem

Dear Simon,

I’m wondering if you have any experience with the armoury private label shoes and also your thoughts about the versatility of a suede Oxford in dark brown. Can they be worn with chinos and jeans? Asking as their suede Oxford model looks tasty

FIDELIO

Hi Simon,
Could you expand on the versatility of dark brown oxford suede shoes? You have mentioned elsewhere you wished your Bemers had been dark brown. Can dark brown suede oxfords really be worn with suits and flannels as well as denim and chinos?
Thanks

Anonymous

Dear Simon,

One of the particular things I appreciate about this shoe is the rather strong curvature and high rise between the toe part of the sole and the start of the heel (apologies for the lack of a better description) . Being fairly new to the sartorial side of things , I am wondering if this is a specific feature of bespoke shoes or available in RTW shoes (price point C&J Handgrade)? Thank you in advance.

Anonymous

Hi Simon,

A belated thank you for your reply. Last week I decided to “tie the knot” and acquire a set of C&J. Hence, exciting the store an hour later with a pair of black EG Chelseas on the 202 last…. Having done my research afterwards, I learned about the 82 last and am wondering if I made the right decision.

Having owned multiple pairs of EG’s, do you have a preference/advice for either the 202 or 82 last (in a business formal/casual context)? Realizing this comes down to personal preferences, your views would be much appreciated. Thank you in advance for your reply.

Alex N.

Dear Simon,
Lovely post. I just want to confirm. You say that when given back to SB, your first pair of bespoke shoes were relasted and now have the same fit as your latest pair? Wouldn’t there be a difference in the pattern for clicking the leather or there are certain tolerances with patterns and modified lasts? I was wondering whether to start with Blue bespoke and go for sixpence once we have had the last more or less very well fitted. Do you think there would be logic in this?
Thank you
Alex