Gaziano & Girling bespoke loafers – Review

Wednesday, December 27th 2017
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These bespoke suede loafers from Gaziano & Girling have been a while in the make - I last covered the first fitting back in September 2016

It hasn't taken over a year to get from that fitting to now, however.

They were actually ready in the Spring, but I then wore them a few times before we had the shoe trees made. (Something G&G often suggest, so the shoe can take on the shape of the foot more.)

The final shoes were then ready in the summer (the photos here are from Florence in June) but it's taken a while for me to take more close-up pictures and get round to posting. 

The shoes were my first made on a last by Daniel Wegan, rather than Tony Gaziano who made the lasts for my first two pairs. (A seamless loafer and an adelaide oxford). 

I'd known Daniel for a while, so it was a nice to make some shoes together, and put in practice some of the things we had talked about in terms of design and finishing. 

From a design point of view, the most important thing was how high the vamp should go up the foot, and how low it should be cut on either side. Given there was no other adornment (quite intentionally) this became much of the focus. 

I really like where we ended up, with the vamp running up higher than on my seamless loafers, but still in proportion to the rest of the shoe. 

In terms of make, Daniel took things a step further than I'd ever had before with G&G.

The waist was sharply cut in and bevelled, the heel curved beautifully to follow the shape of my heel, and the heel stack pitched more than previous pairs, giving them quite a delicate look. (More akin to the double monks I had made at Cleverley.)

The loafers were also finished with a hidden seam, what Daniel calls a 'blind skinstitch'. This is hand-sewn on the inside, in the same way the toe on a split-toe derby often is.

It isn't invisible, but you rarely notice it until it's pointed out (particularly as it is deliberately on the inside curve of the heel). 

And finally the shoe has French binding on the top edge, as much for strength as for decoration. 

The fit on the shoes was good from the start, with Daniel spending a lot of time refining the last and getting the heel to fit closely without rubbing too much. 

It wasn't quite perfect after the first fitting, however, so we had a second in another piece of waste leather.

That first fitting pair had been cut up by Daniel in any case, to see where the foot was sitting inside the shoe.

It was particularly interesting to see the difference this made around the heel, where Daniel was able to curve it underneath by about half a centimetre more, moving the heel stack forward as well and shortening the shoe overall. 

I'd still say the fit is 99% right; not quite perfect. There is also a slight ripple on the top of the joints.

But then they will continue to adapt more as I wear them (I only wore them a few weeks over the summer) and they fit far better than any ready-to-wear (RTW) loafer I would ever have. 

On that point, I'd stick to my position that bespoke should largely be bought for the aesthetics rather than the fit.

Unless you have very unusual feet, you should be able to find a last out there that will fit you well RTW, or at least made-to-order in some last/size/width combination. 

And bespoke can be a temperamental process in terms of fit - far harder than with tailoring. 

Bespoke is largely about the aesthetics (although some of those can be found in some RTW) and the creative process. These loafers were conceived from scratch, as a result of discussion between myself and Daniel over more than a year (as the couture houses say, starting with a blank sheet of paper).

As a style, by the way, I couldn't be happier with these loafers. 

Wear them with fairly conventional clothes in the office, such as a navy suit, and they stand out only in the most beautiful and subtle ways. You catch people admiring them without quite being able to pin down what is so attractive. 

There's no horse's bit, no flapping tassels, just deep-brown texture and flowing lines. 

Gaziano & Girling bespoke currently starts at £5000 for first-time customers, £4200 for repeat customers (as I am). That includes VAT and shoetrees.

The time to complete a pair is 12-18 months for new customers and 6-9 months for existing ones, although due to a big increase in demand recently, they are not taking on new customers until the middle of next year (with a waiting list in the meantime). 

Photography: Jamie Ferguson (worn) and Permanent Style (unworn)

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JW

First!

Nice review on G&G bespoke. I have quite a few pairs of G&G, and I would say I don’t think the increased comfort/fit for bespoke fit would be worth the dough (in my opinion).

Gary

Beautiful shoes Simon, congratulations on another great commission.

You mentioned have achieved a 99% percent right in fit in this 3rd bespoke commission from G&G. How would you characterise the fit, in percentage terms, of your two previous bespoke G&G commissions? And overall how much better do these bespoke creations fit over a MTO pair like the Black Wholecut Deco’s you have featured in the past?

Very interested to hear your thoughts as the owner of several MTO and high-end shoes, considering “upgrading” to bespoke.

Anonymous

Simon

They look incredible. Very nice indeed.

Anonymous

Hi Simon,

Thanks for the great review. They are beautiful. I think you might have forgotten to complete your last paragraph though.

Anonymous

Looks beautifully made and I’m sure it’s really comfortable, but two huge negatives for me I’m afraid.
Firstly, it looks more than a touch effeminate. Secondly, even if it is sturdy enough, it doesn’t look as though it is suited to being worn outside.
Not for me.

BingoLiddle

These are beautiful Simon. Also, delighted to see that bespoke starts at £XXX rather than £XXXX ?

Karsten

Hey Simon,

I guess the X’s in the last paragraph are rather placeholders than roman numerals, aren’t they?

Cheers, Karsten

Winot

They look great Simon. Daniel has made my last few pairs and he is a true craftsman, and won’t finish until he is sure that the fit is as good as he can get.

(BTW you need to edit in the cost detail in the final paragraphs – looks like you uploaded an unfinished draft article.)

Andres Lopez

Hello, Simon

What was the final price of the shoe? I’m thinking on getting my first bespoke shoes, and my two options so far are G&G and George Cleverly. Which one would you recommend?

Your article was great as always. Keep the good work.

David

I’m not a fan of such a low cut with socks. They may look better in a summer environment.
I also disagree completely that you should buy bespoke shoes for the aesthetic not the fit. I think the reverse is true. These things are only worth while if you have unusual feet or special needs. Failing that, off the shelf with a quality manufacturer can give you the same result and at a fraction of the xx price.

John

Hi Simon,
Eventually, the awaited review! Many thanks for this post!
These are really lovely loafers! A sharp pair of shoes as one can always expect from G&G!
There is something really special in these shoes, hard to pin down as you said!
John

Kev Fidler

A very elegant looking pair of shoes, Simon. The elongated vamp is particularly appealing; it’s a personal thing but I don’t usually like the gap between the shoe and trouser hem you encounter with many loafer shoes and this pair seems to overcome that. On the point about bespoke being primarily an aesthetic thing are you suggesting that the best value is by having individual design changes (such as the vamp and heel) in discussion with the maker rather than simply having your foot shape reproduced to the house design? (This would appear to be opposite of your advice in relation to tailoring, for example.)

Alex

Great write-up, and very nice photos of the suede (which often seems to photograph quite poorly).

The shoes are, to my taste, a bit delicate though.

Richard

Simon,
Great post. Whilst I shall never be able to afford bespoke shoes it is always interesting to read about the process of creating such beautiful footwear.
As an aside you may wish to double check the penultimate and final paragraphs of this wonderful article for completeness.

Joel

Hi Simon,

Hope you’re well?

Did I read correctly that you feel bespoke is better aesthetically rather than for fit? Surprised to read that.

Secondly, why this design? They look a lot like you B&L Sagans.

All the best

Joel

John

Hi Simon,
It’s just dawned on me that you are wearing these loafers with a fairly sharp suit – that is featured quite high in the ladder of levels of formality. But due to their casualness, they should have reached at best an outfit made of a navy blazer as a central piece. Mind you, in your shoes, as it were, I might well have done the same thing!
Thus my question: are you incidentally displaying here your sense of sprezz?
John

Peter

The term for a shoe cut from one piece of leather is whole cut. Your friends at ‘The Rake’ have made the same mistake. The creasing up of the vamp is due to too high a pitch. If you paid 5000 pounds for this standard of work you must have money to burn. Even Edward Green Top Drawer comes in under 2000 . I think you need to grow up, learn the language do the soup kitchen for a few nights and get a life.

Csem

Why did it take over a year! to design a simple brown suede unadorned slip on? I have three pairs of boots, three pairs of loafers and one pair of beautiful dark burgundy monk straps and each of them fit like a glove but only after wearing them a few times, which is quite normal. Each one took no more than six months from design to delivery. I have a normal American size foot (size 13/size 46) which automatically means I have to buy MTO or bespoke at G&G. Stephen Williams who works in the front of the shop is consistently excellent with all aspects of sizing and design. The notion that you chose these plain slip ons for their “aesthetic” is in my opinion a back handed slap to G&G who make much more beautiful and original designs.

Jan

Hi Simon, thanks for the insightful review. The style is certainly not for me, but it is a great study in how far you can take bespoke make/style.

The other thing I can’t help but notice is the price inflation both in high-end bespoke and among the travelling tailors that you cover. John Lobb Looks cheap in comparison. For some reason A&S werde know as ‘among the cheaper on the Row ‘ but they now charge 4.8k for a two-piece. avitabile was 150 and is now 250. Solito has gone up from 2k to 2.8k. All basically in the last 2 years…on the one hand this is, of course, fair compensation for folks at the top of their profession, but for someone just venturing into bespoke it’s also a massive spoiler.

Makes one appreciate your reviews of value tailors even more. Among those I would count W&S, which I have used, Graham Browne (tempted to try the for a more structured look) and de Cesare (also tempted). Andy other ideas?

On a separate note, do you think the spanish tailors you tried were given a fair overall assessment? Your initial reviews sounded like they did an ok (if not perfect) job in terms of fit (in a rushed/ unusual fitting process) but you remarked later that the jackets werde unusable (at Lears by your standards), hence the Dege commission

Jesper Ingevaldsson

Interesting to read your opinion about bespoke shoes being mainly about aesthetics. I’m of the exact opposite opinion, from my experience. I guess much comes down to how your feet are, but also in general the arch and heel support that you can get from bespoke isn’t really possible with factory made shoes.

To be able to make shoes with machines, lasts can’t go too much inwards in the arch area (and even if they could, it’s easier for manufacturers not to since shoes with less arch support “fits” more people, read “leaves space in the arch which doesn’t feel wrong”, since that’s how RTW/MTO shoes always feel for most people, and have done their whole life), and the heel bottom of the lasts needs to be completely flat for machines to attach the pre-built heels easily. But most (western, at least) feet doesn’t have that flat archs, and the bottom of your heels aren’t completely flat.

I can find RTW lasts that fits fine and feel comfortable, but they will lack especially in these areas mentioned above, and compared to my bespoke shoes they don’t come close here. The comfort and support my bespoke shoes offer is not least noticable towards the end of the days, and especially if I’ve been walking a lot, then it’s like night and day.

The fact that you can achieve the exact aesthetics with bespoke shoes is for me only a bonus, and in general I’d say much can be achieved here with MTO (again, opposite opinion of your opinion) if it’s not some more special models you’re after.

RTW/MTO makers who are hand welted and made on lasts that aren’t built for regular factories (for example Saint Crispin’s, Hiro Yanagimachi MTO, Masaru Okyama MTO, etc) can have arch support and shaped heel bottoms that, if they fit well also in other regards, can be very close to bespoke (and with MTM services from brands like these many people can achieve a really great fit). But factory made shoes can not, IMO.

The amount of people who do experience problems with their feet, especially when they get older, could also show that it’s in general hard for people to find a fit in RTW shoes that is sufficient. I’ve always stated that in my opinion, more people “should” order bespoke shoes than bespoke tailoring, not the other way around as it clearly is today. When it comes to shoes in a way fit is even more important than when it comes to clothing, since it’s about comfort and health in a different way than with clothes. Somewhat simplified: if a jacket doesn’t fit perfectly in the neck, it’s nothing you get hurt by more than the fact that the aesthetic is not perfect, but if a shoe pinches somewhere you can have to endure pain and in the long run even get serious foot issues.

So to me, bespoke tailoring is mainly about aesthetics, bespoke shoes are about comfort and health. Just another view of things.

Aggro

Love the minamalist look

They look very similar to a black calf slipper

Although in comparison, your shoes have a higher vamp & a sturdier sole, different last…among other things

I think I’ll stick to wearing black calf slippers at £200 per pair.
Even with the thinner sole, it should take a more than few pairs to reach anywhere near £5000 worth which means much £££ savings!

Aggro

Agree with Simon on bespoke

Although the fit of bespoke is paramount, if you’re spending that much money on bespoke you might as well get something that looks unique in terms of design rather than something that looks like a trad design that everyone else has got

Boring

All these claims of getting bespoke purely because of fit (and design as an afterthought) is just COPING.
Virtual signaling, trying to make it sound like it’s a necessity (for fit) that one is spending all that money on bespoke.

Although most of us are dressing for ourselves – don’t lie – there’s also the touch of the inner peacock among many of us

Jesper Ingevaldsson

Simon: Yes, it’s definitely a steep price hike for many bespoke offerings compared to RTW, at least for English and French makers. And it’s up to each person to judge whether it’s worth it or not. To me where as mentioned the difference is quite big, it is, while I hesitate on the tailoring side, because of the reasons stated above.

Aggro: I didn’t say I by bespoke shoes purely because of fit (in the same way as Simon hasn’t said that he buys bespoke shoes purely because of aesthatics). But I can safely say that fit and comfort is my MAIN (not only) reason for going bespoke. If I was mainly after the aesthetics and craftsmanship, I would only order MTO from brands like Yohei Fukuda or Hiro Yanagimachi, which are made to the same standard as their bespoke offerings (for Yohei earlier at least, before new RTW/MTO range was launched) . That said, the fact that you can get the superb aesthetics and craftsmanship with bespoke of course is a big reason ordering it, but not the main one (for me).

Anonymous

Simon

Would I be correct in assuming you’re wearing more suede shoes as opposed to calf leather shoes? If so, is it because menswear is less formal in this day and age?

Ian A

I think a hatch grain leather in a colour other than black would do a great deal in subverting leather’s formality over suede.

S.

Dear Simon,

I love these articles, but I do not think that you ever have defined what are things like heel curve or heel stack pitch. Would you mind giving a quick definition of what you describe by them?
Thanks !

S

Great, thank you very much for the article, had forgotten about it !

Alec Childs

Simon

Good afternoon and happy new year. I hope you enjoyed a restful festive period.

Please may I ask what socks you are wearing in the photos?

Thank you

Alec

Stephan

Simon, what’s your view on those rubber/vibram/plastic things that are ment to protect the soles from wearing out? Does it make much difference in terms of comfort etc? I notice you don’t have them on most shoes.
Thanks.

Jason Hogg

Hi Simon,
Would it have been possible to make these seamless at the back like your GG loafers? If not, why not?
Thanks and regards,
Jason

Jason Hogg

Sorry Simon, I was thinking more of your suede loafers with the hidden seam. Was this not possible to do as a seamless heel?

MTM

Beautiful shoes. Mark Cho has a similar pair from Carmina. Lobb, Alfred Sargent, and others do too. Interesting that you started with a blank slate then ended up with a classic design, although with the superlative construction detail of a skin-stitched seam.

Chancellor

Simon,

Appreciate yoru detailed reviews as always.

I’m wondering if you have advice on how many fitting one should expect in a first bespoke shoe (recognizing that some makers may do better with a few fittings than others do with many)? I assume one fitting would rarely be enough; it seems with this pair you had at least two, and the maker already knows your feet, so perhaps even more might be advisable in a first shoe?

Thanks as always for your generous advice.

Jake Jones

Do you have a single article that has all your recommendations for the best of bespoke: shirt, jacket, pants, suits, belt, glasses, outerwear, bags and the like. Would great to have a single index of the top 1 (or 2-3) in each category.

Jake Jones

Yes, this would be very helpful.