Blue Bespoke shoes from Stefano Bemer: Value bespoke
So, my friend Tommaso Capozzoli has this pair of shoes. They’re bespoke, by Stefano Bemer, and made in their replica Russian-reindeer leather.
They seem to go with everything he wears, from grey flannel to cream linen, and have real character without overly standing out.
After a long time admiring them, and a few months of saving up, I finally took the plunge at the beginning of the year and ordered a pair. They are pictured here.
They’re wonderful, and have proved just as versatile as I hoped.
But the most interesting part, perhaps, is that they were (relatively!) affordable for bespoke, at €2450.
They were cheaper than normal because they were made using the process Stefano Bemer calls Blue Bespoke.
This is differentiated from full bespoke (they call it ‘Sixpence Bespoke’) in that the welt is sewn to the sole by machine at the front, and only by hand around the waist.
The insole is also constructed slightly differently, and pre-made parts are used for the sole and heel, so there is less ability to have a particular design here, or more pitched heel for example.
But everything else is the same as full bespoke. An individual last is created for the customer (in my case I already had one - from my two pairs of full bespoke shoes) and the welt is sewn to the shoe itself by hand (as indeed it is in all Bemer shoes, including ready-to-wear).
So what’s the downside of these differences?
Well primarily, aspects of the sole are not quite as strong as on full bespoke. But that’s not something you’re likely to notice for perhaps decades of wear. Certainly, it’s not something that’s ever affected my bespoke v RTW shoes.
And in terms of aesthetics, not quite as much shaping is put into the waist of the shoe, so you can’t get the full ‘fiddleback’ look of the sharp ridge on the bottom.
But this difference is small - you can see it in the images below, with my new shoes at the top and my old full-bespoke ones at the bottom.
You don’t get that fiddleback ridge, but there is still really nice rounding to the waist.
Also, more important to the look of a bespoke shoe (for me) is how narrow the waist is cut.
It is this narrowness in the middle of the sole that makes the foot look sharper and more elegant, and more obviously separates it from most RTW.
You can see the effect in the image below - the way the sole cuts inwards in the middle of my right foot.
By contrast, no one is going to see the fiddleback unless you spend a lot of time with your feet up.
Stefano Bemer have got better at this.
I had a pair of loafers made using Blue Bespoke a few years ago, and while the fit was great (still my bespoke last) the look wasn’t really on a par with full bespoke.
That’s changed. They’ve improved considerably, as the relatively new RTW line has been run in parallel with the bespoke, and learnt from it.
Frankly, I don’t notice any difference between these and my full-bespoke shoes, and they’re considerably cheaper (full bespoke starts at €3650).
There was one small issue with the toe-cap length, which we had with my first pair too, but it’s barely noticeable.
The replica Russian reindeer, by the way, is a calf leather that Bemer created to mimic the original 1786 leather (details on that here) of which there is very little left.
It is hatched by hand to mimic the natural-looking texture, and then various layers of patina are built up on top (one of which uses tea leaves to get it's colour).
Compared to the original reindeer, which I have in a double monk from Cleverley, this doesn't have the same smell or natural variation.
But that does mean it has a cleaner, more consistent look, and is much easier to maintain. (The original dries out quickly and needs regular cream.)
- Pale-brown Fresco trousers from Luxire
- Wool socks from Bresciani
- Made-to-measure jacket from Saman Amel
- Button-down chambray shirt from Luca Avitabile
- Vintage box from Dunhill
Photography: James Munro
Would you recommend a metal toe cap on soles for all bespoke customers or is it just more to do with your particular wear pattern on a shoe?
More your wear pattern.
So you must be at least a little fond of your Luxire trousers!!!
I am indeed, as I said they are a very good fit.
People seem to think that any review with some negative points is entirely negative!
Nothing is ever that simple; most fashion just makes it seem that way.
Oh Simon, absolutely stunning. I have to say, of all the shoes you’ve reviewed, this pair and the tobacco suede Oxford from Bemer have to be my favourite. I asked this question in the Luxire thread, have you come across a Luxire for shoes?
No Joe, and to be honest I wouldn’t try – shoes are more similar to tailoring in that they necessarily involve a lot more stages of work, and are harder to outsource.
They are also near impossible to alter once finished. A Luxire for shoes would be a massive risk.
Actually that’s not true at all! Check out the Bespoke Addict on YouTube.
Luxire do make shoes! And they are pretty damn good. Leather is from France. They do a test trial shoe plus the final shoe starting at $600 USD.
Apologies, and thanks – I didn’t know that. I’d stick to my previous point for now but happy to be proved wrong!
Go on Simon, give it a go!
My grandfather used to have his shoes made by the Lee Kee shoe company in Hong Kong. Apparently they were very popular and very good affordable quality back in the 60s and 70s.
Sadly though this is of no use as I have just done some googling and found they are out of business.
Perhaps there is something similar in Hong Kong these days?
The shoes look superb, I have a similar bespoke pair from G&G in dark brown hatchgrain, very versatile!
It was nice to bump into you again yesterday, can I ask what, if anything you needed to change on your jacket? It looked spot on to me.
You too Mac.
Just a little too much fullness in the chest on my right side
Out of curiosity – why wool socks in summer? Thanks
They were the only clean ones that I liked the colour of with the trousers!
? perfect colour combination though ?
P.S. I mistakenly replied to the wrong comment above, please remove it if possible. Thankie
These are truly beautiful shoes, Simon. I’m not sure that I’m ready for bespoke shoes, yet, and I seem to have developed an addiction to Crockett and Jones, who seem to make the best RTW shoes I’ve ever had – or, at least, they have a couple of lasts that suit me well. Funnily enough, I’ve been looking at the SB website recently and have been considering the RTW equivalent of these shoes. Seeing these makes me want them even more!
Lovely shoes. Any idea why Saint Crispin’s are not doing any trunk shows in the UK?
Largely historic – they used to at Drake’s then that fell away
Hello Simon – which shoe-makers would you recommend for those of us with fallen arches/flat feet? I’m sure I remember reading on here somewhere in the comments that the Japanese tend to be more suitable for this sort of thing over the Europeans as a lot of Asians have this ‘distinction’ but for some-one living in the UK a bespoke pair of shoes from, say, Fukuda or Shirahama might prove to be a little difficult (if not extremely long in terms of wait time)!
I know style is individual but I guess I’m coming from the point of view that, like you’ve said many times, it’s best to find someone who does the particular thing you’re after – so no using an English tailor for a Neapolitan style cut for example.
To be honest, it’s very hard to give advice on a fit point like that. I can report back on who dealt well with my fit particularly, but that’s about it.
A reader with a similar.issue may chip in here
Thanks for the response good sir, much appreciated!
I have what they call “Flexible” Flat Feet (my arches on my feet collapse when I stand/weight is put on the foot). I’ve had great experience with Alden’s Modified Last.
I live in NYC and got them at Moulded Shoe NY
10 East 39th Street,
New York, NY, 10016
Best of luck!
Thanks for the tip Gero, much appreciated!
I have fallen arches and both Cleverley and Gaziano & Girling have had no problem compensating (both bespoke).
Thank you Winot, I would always consider both G&G as well as Cleverley but I wondered if there might be a somewhat cheaper alternative? I guess one gets what one pays for…
Ive got a real dilemma with laces and need your advice.
Should they be threaded criss cross or straight across? Flat or round? Waxed or not? How long? Single or double knot?
I worry I make a faux pas when I wear them and people might notice.
There is no possibility of a real faux pas – just wear whichever you like, aware that straight threading and thinner flatter laces will look smarter
I really was getting myself tied up in knots over this issue.
There is a Japanese shoe-maker who does fully bespoke in Munich: Ryota Hayafuji Shoemaker. He doesn’t seem to have a homepage, but you can find him easily at Facebook. Prices started from 2400€ four years ago.
I noticed you wore your Saman Amel jacket with this outfit. I had the impression it was rather more of a FW weight fabric when you commissioned it. Is that not the case? Thanks.
It’s not too heavy – in the UK I can see myself wearing it at least 6-8 months of the year
What is the key difference between Stefano Bemer’s Blue Bespoke offering and Saint Crispin’s Custom Offering (Fitting Pieces + Personal Last + Trial Shoes).
Is the quality & make comparable between the two brands or is one better than the other?
Dear Simon, very good shoes. Price is still too high for Italy. For example at present time I am in ordering process in real full bespoke shoes with TWO!!! Test shoes (and it’s amazing TWO test shoes). For 1,700 Euro only.
The kind of shoes I like: sharp, but esp on the second pic from the top, it looks like the shoe is swollen (empty spaces) at several places around the toe cap seam, which one would not expect esp from bespoke. Isn’t it the case?
That’s the issue I mentioned, yes. It’s not that prominent and only visible from some angles, but it is there.
I was so relieved when I got to the text of your post. From the title, I thought that you’d momentarily gone off the deep end and purchased a blue-colored pair of bespoke leather shoes.
Ha! That was my first thought as well. I was kind of intrigued to see how the blue shoes would’ve been paired though 🙂
Pleased for you Simon these look great. Ever since the first pair of Bemers they have been my favourite. There is also the sentiment of the back story – good to see they are evolving. You have many other fine examples of bespoke footware but the Bemers seem best in shape and balance…your feedback on fit seems also to elevate them. The pricing, for the end product, seems very good value. Hopefully, taking inflation into account, this will remain. The hatching more matte than shiny is a boon for matching to differing cloth finishes (formal to casual). Thanks for including the sixth image it shows the elegant waist and beautiful shape. A pleasure to see another pair of Bemers, I hope you get the same enjoyment from these as with the others.
Did you know that the original full bespoke is not one but two prova shoes?
First test shoes destroyed to see how legs are standing, second shoes customer wears for 1 month , after that shoes maker produces final shoes .
That might be original in Naples Timofey – it’s not in the UK
In this case I mean Calzolaio in Modena.
But that about U.K. practice for bespoke? Are you just trying prova shoes or you walking in it for a while (1-2 month maybe)??
You wouldn’t normally make a new pair after walking in them for a month or two. You might do that with the finished shoes and be able to make small tweaks, but only small ones
Are you happy with the Fresco trousers? I’m thinking specifically, the material. I remember , previously, you’d expressed a preferesence for Crispaire over Fresco.
I do prefer Crispaire, yes, I just particularly liked the colour of this Fresco
Are they more itchy than Crispaire? Presumably there lined?
For your less knowledgeable readers Simon, perhaps you should differentiate between what you refer to generically as “Fresco”.
Fresco is a brand which is owned by Hardy Minnis. There are many variations of this in their bunches. Then there is “fresco”, which is a generic name given to a particular twist construction.
As a generic name, fresco will yield cloths which range from very rough to very smooth.
Please don’t confuse your readers by suggesting they are all the same, because they aren’t.
Value is a subject unto itself, however describing €2k shoes as affordable is jumping off delusions deep end. Relativity be damned.*
*still enjoyed reading about them
I’ve done a lot of reading up on the GW and hand welted, and whilst I am perfectly happy with a hand welted with a machine stitched sole, the problem I have is with the gemming where the linen is glued on to the insole is that this is just a glue versus the work done on hand welted. Japanese semi bespoke offer hand welted and machine stitched, so I`d say that your machine stitched is quite expensive for what it is, and a true shoe aficionado wouldn’t sleep at night with a machine GTW, a bit like the issues taken with lapels being handworked. Having heard this, I believe full bespoke is worth the work done at Bemer by far. Nice shoes though, and don’t lose sleep over the sole!
Gorgeous shoes and the summer color and weight of the trousers complement them perfectly.
I was becoming a bit jaded with some of the recent articles, but this is style in the true sense.
Of course the price save is funny thing of blue bespoke. First of all of some person spent 2 K + Euro for shoes it’s really doesn’t matter +/- some hundreds Euro. Secondly – if you walk maybe 10 minuts from Beamer shop – you will reach Roberto Ugolini who will offer to you a real full bespoke for around 2 K Euro .)))
True, Ugolini is good value
Apologies for newbie question but it looks like there is creasing in the toe cap area? I thought that toe caps were supposed to remain uncreased, especially for bespoke?
Bespoke hasn’t really got anything to do with it – it’s something that should be clean on pretty much any level of shoe.
But yes, it’s not perfect here – it’s the issue I referred to in the post itself (and in comments above)
I see what you mean now. Thank you for your patience, really beautiful shoes, apologies for the questions, trying to learn without being disruptive.
In RTW shoes, wouldn’t toe cap creases mean that the shoes are too long?
Yes usually. Here it’s more the way the cap and the stiffener inside are lined up
I know you visit York and wondered if you had considered trying shoes made by Louis Taylor Smith at Old Sole? I’d be interested in your comments
I haven’t I’m afraid Chris, but I do plan to visit next time I’m there
A quick question about bespoke shoes: I commissioned a pair from a well known maker in London when working there in 2015/16. Had a trial shoe fitting and then left London prior to the final shoe. Since moving back home (to Australia!) have had many issues. The final shoe fit poorly and was sent back twice for alteration. As you might imagine, this was not successful. Then I was visiting London last year and took the shoes with me for an in-person fitting with the final shoe and further alterations. Again, the alterations failed to address the many fit issues. Finally, with the most recent return, I am told the shoe has been completely re-made from scratch. I have just received these, and still, the fit is poor although some of the prior issues are improved. My question is one of propriety and what I should expect from a bespoke shoe maker (whose virtues you have extolled yourself before)? Should I declare the bespoke process in my case a failed one? Is it inappropriate to return the product and ask for a refund? Or is this the risk one runs with bespoke? Obviously I have made a significant investment in these shoes and I am now 2.5 yrs down the track without a pair of wearable shoes. I would appreciate your advice as a more experienced bespoke consumer!
I think it’s a question of how bad the fit is, which is hard for me to comment on remotely. If they are truly unwearable, then you should definitely be able to get your money back. If they’re ok, just not up to your expectations of bespoke, then it’s harder. It certainly sounds like they’ve tried to do everything they can to fix them.
Any recommendations for a good cobbler in central London? Struggling to find one…
Most of the makers here use Tony – Tonys Heel Bar just off St James’s
Cheers Simon – much appreciated
Simon, you mentioned several times that english shoes worth the money one pays for them. Is it the case also with italian shoes? Is there any added value when ordering bespoke at Stefano Bemer vs. Antonio Meccariello for example when the latter is cheaper by at least 1000 euro?
Rather than English shoes necessarily being worth the value, it’s more the fact that the companies are all quite similar – same location, same rough size, same approach to marketing/design. And that therefore when you pay more to upgrade, you’re usually getting higher quality.
With the Italians, it’s harder as they’re in different places. Naples is generally cheaper than elsewhere, for example. But with the two you mention, you are at least getting a similar type of company – rather than comparing them to Berluti or Lattanzi or someone
The shoes look great, Simon! I’m a student so for now bespoke is a little beyond my reach, but I really love these and the loafers also from G&G. Any recommendations for similar-looking RTW of reasonable quality?
I’d look to Gaziano & Girling Classic line and a new Stefano Bemer Essenziale line (coming soon) if you want the same look but not bespoke
Dear readers and Simon,
I have a pair of Stefano Bemer bespoke shoes and have mixed feeling about them at best. Firstly, they came with scratches to the supple leather and were not polished which is not what I would expect since RTW makers have polished my shoes complimentary. The fit is (as Simon often mentions) better than any RTW but not perfect. I have very different feet with very slim heels and specifically wanted bespoke shoes because I can’t find any shoes that hug my heels. The bespoke shoes don’t do that perfectly either and could have been 2-3mm longer. My biggest problem is with the aesthetic. Due to differences in my feet, my right shoe looks way bigger than my left and the front part where the toes are is raised. It creates a sort of caricature silhouette. I was really expecting something beautiful and dare I say sexy and the result is far from it. At least my little toes seem to be well accommodated. I do believe a better line could have been achieved and also accommodate my feet. To be honest, in hindsight I would have been better off with 3 pairs of EG shoes and boots, rather than a pair of okay fitting bespoke shoes. When and if I commission another pair, I would go to an independent like Emiko Matsuda or Nicholas Templeman and try to develop a relationship there as it didn’t happen with SB.
Good to hear the personal experience Mark.
I think the fit points reflect my general experience, which is that you won’t get a truly great fit until a second or third pair. Frustrating, but usually true. There will always be small imperfections.
On the polish, finishing is often not a priority with bespoke makers, which is a little odd – the contrast between that on, say, Cleverley or Lobb, and on a Japanese maker is striking.
On the part where the toes are being raised, I’m sure you know this but good shoes will often have a little ‘toe spring’ such that the toe is lifted off the ground slightly. It does make for a more natural walking movement. But obviously without seeing the shoes, it’s hard to know whether this has been done well or not.
Out of interest, why do you think any of these points would be better with Emiko or Nicholas? Or is it just the relationship that you think would improve?
I believe the relationship would be better as communication has been relatively hard and mostly one-sided from my part. What I meant about the toes is that on the upper where the toe stiffeners are, the shoe is raised and then when you go back towards the toe cap it lowers. The effect is somewhat to the Vulpa shoe at the mastershoemakers championship though not so pronounced.
Ah I see, thanks Mark.
And yes, I can certainly see why you’d prefer better communication and therefore possibly relationship over commissioning shoes
I have this so much. I think this will be ultimate shoes from Stefano to have.
Not sure what it is Simon, but these are nice and been quietly growing on me.
1) Noted re grey flannel to cream linen, but is this shoe colour and style equally suitable for use with a navy hopsack suit (patch pockets) and dark jeans; basically most things outside work?
2) Is this colour more versatile than say a darker brown or are they equal ceteris paribus? I assume the lighter shade makes the hatching and any contrast that bit more visible.
Thank you in advance.
Nice to hear Richard.
1) Not really, no. I wouldn’t wear it with any darker colour of tailoring (the usual guideline of shoes as dark or darker than the trousers). And they’d be smart/sharp for jeans
2) No, darker brown is always more versatile
I love those socks! What are the details?
Taupe wool from Bresciani
Cashmere or wool? I can’t seem to find them on their site.
Wool. But bear in mind I bought these years ago
I hope you are well, and thank you sharing your experience with Stefano Bemer’s Semi-brogued captoe oxford in replica Russian reindeer T6620. I am thinking of ordering a pair online to the UK, and I would be very grateful if you could please help me with a few questions.
In terms of sizing, I wear UK size 8.0E on 182 last from Edward Green (i.e. Piccadilly loafer). As I have never tried Stefani Bemer, I am not sure what size I should go with. From your experience, how did the size/fitting of the Stefano Bemer’s T6620 compare with that of your Edward Green? Stefano Bemer replied to my email saying that they would recommend size 42, but I wanted to check with you before placing an order.
Another concern is that I am no expert when it comes to dressing up (i.e. pairing shoes with trousers). I want to make sure to get a versatile pair which can go easily with various semi-formal styles. In light of this, would you recommend the T6620 semi-brogue Russian Reindeer?
It would be really helpful if you could please get back to me. Many thanks in advance.
Happy to help, but I’m afraid these were made on my bespoke last – hence the angle of the article. I don’t have any experience with their ready-made sizing.
I think the style and leather of the shoe is beautiful, but I wouldn’t say it is that versatile necessarily. It is fairly angular and a little smarter – certainly compared to a more understated loafer, like the Piccadilly you mention, I’d say it wouldn’t be that versatile.
Thank you for your reply – it helped me to narrow down. I decided to get the blue bespoke (Tradizione) classic derby in dark brown in the end.
For the leather, they recommended using the Arlington calfskin (similar to hatched calfskin – this is the one that is used to make the replica russian reindeer) or the hatched horsefront. As I am not familiar with horsefront leather, could you please kindly advise on its look/care, durability and resistance to water in comparison to those of calfskin?
Many thanks in advance.
I’m afraid I can’t Alex, I actually don’t know that much about horsefront leather and haven’t used it myself. For such an expensive shoe though, I’d go with a material you know and is more predictable
Thanks Simon. I have decided to go ahead with their Arlington leather (hatched calfskin).
In terms of the colour, what would you recommend if I want it to be versatile and go well with different styles/colours – mostly smart casual. I have preliminarily picked dark brown, but wasn’t sure if it is a good choice. If you think dark brown is good, then how dark should it be? I’d be grateful if you could help. Many thanks!
If you want versatility, then yes definitely dark brown. If in doubt, go for the darker shade