Nicholas Templeman bespoke shoes: Review

Wednesday, January 13th 2021
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Bespoke shoes are a luxury for me, rather than the norm. 

Unlike bespoke tailoring - which I will always buy over RTW as long as I can afford to - I’m quite happy with a shoe wardrobe which is mostly ready-made. 

This can put more pressure on bespoke footwear, as it has to deliver in all respects. It must be as pleasing stylistically as RTW, but also be superior in fit, and probably look bespoke in some manner too, whether through a finely turned waist or an intricate hand detail. 

Fortunately these shoes from Nicholas Templeman, which I wrote about for the first time last year, succeed on all those points. 

They do have a couple of minor issues, around the lacing and the vamp, but this is still good for a debut pair. On the important points - most importantly fit - they are spot on. 

The shoe is a Norwegian derby, in a grained calfskin, with a rather decorative double-braid around the apron (or ‘lake’ as Nicholas calls it - an old term still used at his old employer, John Lobb). 

That stitch is tricky to do, involving six threads intertwining their way around the front of the shoe, and I think certainly qualifies for the intricate hand detail mentioned above. Very few RTW makers would spend the time to include a detail like that (if they were even able to do it). 

I don’t normally wear grained leathers, but this is mostly a prejudice based on the fact they’re often cheaper, corrected skins whose blemishes are hidden by a print. They often look and feel plasticky.

However, one of the nicest things about this commissioning process was the interaction with Nicholas over leathers. We chatted about what he had used on this style of shoe before, how it had made up and worn, how new versions differed from old ones, and all illustrated with photos from his previous work. 

That didn’t just deepen the experience of commissioning the shoes - akin to sourcing vintage cloth for a jacket - but it gave me confidence in how these shoes will age. It was that which convinced me to try a grained leather for the first time.

I did write an initial article on Nicholas here, back in June, and if you haven’t read that - and are interested in commissioning from him - it’s worth doing so. 

In that piece I described our first fitting, with the shoes in welt but no sole attached. We later had a second fitting, and then made a tweak to the shoes once they were completed. 

That tweak was required to line up the facings of the shoe - the two parts that are laced together across the top of a derby.

Derby shoes are surprisingly hard to get right in this respect, when made bespoke. Any pull on the upper on either side of the shoe will tug these facings out of line, slightly. An oxford is easier because one end of the facings cannot move. 

In our case the facings were a little closer together at the bottom than the top, with my instep pushing them apart at the top end. This was mitigated by adding some leather to the last, and then putting the shoes back on it for a while. 

They’re still not perfectly aligned, and it is probably one difference you’d notice compared to a RTW pair. But it is minor, and I doubt anyone would see it that wasn’t trying to analyse or review them. 

The fit of the shoes was very good from the start, and they’ve proved very comfortable to wear. 

This is probably the hardest thing to get right with bespoke - designing a shape to fit someone’s foot, from scratch, with no pre-existing knowledge about their feet, style or preferences. 

But it’s also something that I think must be right. A bespoke shoe has to fit as well or better than a RTW shoe, otherwise there’s no point, given the number of bespoke-make shoes that are now available (Yohei Fukuda, Stefano Bemer etc). 

It’s also the area I’ve found most disappointing in the past. I love my Cleverley shoes - my first experience of bespoke - but the fit wasn’t better than RTW until they’d been adjusted, then stretched a few years later. 

It’s nice to say that Nicholas nailed this. In fact these were probably my best-fitting first pair - on a par with the second ones (here) I had from Stefano Bemer. 

The style of the shoes is interesting. The shaping is far from aggressive, yet the relatively long toe shape does give them real character.

On the shaping, note in the image above that the waist is only gently rounded, without the aggressive bevelling or tiny, narrow waist you get on some bespoke. 

Equally, the heel is pitched forward, but only very subtly, following the natural line of the heel cup (visible on the side-profile shot higher up). And the bottom of the heel is shaped to flow into the waist of the shoe, but to a degree that would be barely noticeable to a non-bespoke fan. 

(For those non-fans, there is an illustration of these points of bespoke make in my old review of Foster & Son.)

Nicholas describes his style as a traditional West End make, referring to the shoemakers around Mayfair and the West End of London. This makes sense given his background at Lobb, and certainly Italian and French makers are often more aggressive in their styling.

However, his style is also more subtle than the two English names readers are most likely to know - Cleverley and Gaziano & Girling. This is down to Cleverley always being a little different, slim and shaped, and Gaziano being a relative, innovative newcomer. 

And then there’s the relatively long toe shape, mentioned above. 

For as much as Nicholas says his roots are in traditional West-End makers, he also believes a shoe should look bespoke - that there’s little point having a bespoke shoe if it doesn’t have a distinctive style you couldn’t get in RTW. 

The result in my shoes is a profile that looks distinctive, but also more dressy. And much as I really like the shoes, that does limit them slightly. They will be best worn with pale, smart trousers like the stone-coloured twills here, rather than cotton chinos.

I think this will be an interesting tension for bespoke shoes going forward. 

As people dress more casually, they will need fewer smart shoes. Bespoke shoes can of course be more casual, with squarer waists, squarer heels, rounded toes etc. But then there are fewer reasons to go bespoke. It becomes just about fit, and to a lesser extent quality, rather than style at all. 

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts on bespoke shoes, I think the future there might be a really good, reliable system of made-to-order shoes on an adjusted last - as Saint Crispin’s has tried to do and Carreducker is exploring as well. 

However, none of this should take away from the excellent service and shoes from Nicholas. 

As I mentioned at the start, the shoes are a little close over the toes, which is leading to wrinkling on the apron. But this is already softening with wear, and no first pair of bespoke is perfect. (I've also deliberately shown these shoes after more than a dozen wears - unlike some which are often reviewed unworn.)

Nicholas got all the important things bang on, and I’d certainly recommend him, as well as look to use him again myself in the future.

It helps that he’s in London too. My other favourite bespoke pair at the moment, from Yohei Fukuda, is just as nice - but he is on the other side of the world. 

Bespoke calf-leather shoes, with hollow and hinged trees, start at £2950 plus VAT. Ankle boots are from £3450, and alligator from £5300.

Nicholas normally visits the US twice a year: New York, Washington DC, San Francisco and (for the first time on the next visit) Dallas. He also travels to Japan and Hong Kong.

My shoes took more than a year and a half, but mostly due to the restrictions around Covid. Normally delivery times are around eight months, four months for a subsequent pair. Though obviously dependent on travel timings

Photography: Alex Natt

Clothes pictured with the shoes can be seen on this previous post on WW Chan.

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Lindsay McKee

Hi Simon, this is one post that I was definitely looking forward to, and here it is!
Can you recommend him for a first foray into bespoke as I am considering having a bespoke pair made by him.
My brief is this:-
A versatile and durable shoe style, probably a black or ideally a more dark brown espresso or cognac colour in a cap toe Oxford to go with a navy blazer and grey trousers or a navy suit.
Many thanks


hi simon, speaking of grained leathers, how do you judge cheaney’s mahogany grain leather?


The Cheaney Edmund in Walnut Grain Leather was my first proper goodyear welted shoe, bought 8 years ago. In the first two years it was worn every other day and since then it has still been my most worn shoe. Its been resoled twice, had the monkstrap fixed and forced to walk through muddy fields at least a dozen times – but still looks brand new every time it is polished, and still draws a lot of compliments.

My only issue with the Mahogany grain might be the relatively light reddish brown which I personally find looks a little old fashioned and too bright to wear with darker denim or flannels. Having said that, Drake’s have recently introduced 3 shoes in that very leather and are pairing it with everything – so what do I know. If you like the shoes, you can certainly buy them in the knowledge the grain leather lasts!!


I have never understood why an elongated toe (or a pointy shoe to the man on the street) is viewed as more elegant / superior / finer.

To be honest – they always look a tad naff. Rounded toes are much more simplistic – and therefore elegant.


It is best illustrated at EG. The 202 last is very classic, smart stylish. The 915 is a bit flashier, bit naffer, definitely bought by men who are looking to compensate / desperate to find a sense of “Style”. But from what I have heard (anecdotally) the 915 oxford outsells the 202!

There are quite few men who have good taste & know what they like. Many more who are so desperate to “have style” or “be well dressed” so they automatically opt for the “more interesting” option (even if it is only a slightly elongated shoe last). Have the confidence to go simple.

Initials CG

Not sure if this is right, but I find the elongated shoes work much better with wider trousers (at the cuffs). Elongated looking shoes harmonize well when the trouser cuffs are 22-23cm or thereabouts.
I know the fashion right now is a more narrow cuff like 19cm, and longer shoes look a bit odd proportion wise – I think.
Ultimately, shoes are the finishing element as someone’s eyes are scanning downwards , and it’s so much more elegant when the trouser cuffs lead effortlessly to your shoes, without creating a, “good lord! He’s got bananas on his feet!”
It’s just something I’ve been noticing as I’m starting to widen the trousers a bit to go with the wider lapels. The shoes follow naturally. What do think?


Very nice looking shoes! The scalloping of the waist is so elegant and the grain adds such character. They would seem seem to go well with denim. I was looking at some past shoe reviews and was curious if you still wear the Ascot pair in cordovan? If so, how are they wearing in?

Hi Simon, those are lovely shoes. I’m happy they turned out incredibly well for you considering the constraints of the pandemic.

I don’t quite trust my LED monitor just yet as I haven’t had the time to play with the settings, so I figured it would be better to ask. Are the soles a really dark brown, or black?


Nice shoe Simon
I think you make a good point regarding perhaps more casual shoes in the future although I still love my EG brown Oxfords.On a more relaxed style what do you think of EG Banbury chukkas in mink suede?


I’ve got a pair of Banburys and 2 pairs of Shanklins. I’ve found them to be very versatile – the Banburys especially can be dressed up a little, or very casual with jeans.

Peter Hall

Lovely, lovely shoes, they already appear to have a softly aged patina and have that colour which sits so well with chinos. Very enjoyable piece of writing, Simon


So many waves….Do not understand what for bespoke shoes are needed if they looking much more worse after few wearing than RTW…
Just for foot comfort? But sneakers and trainers more comfortable


I would like to write a laudatory review of your shoes, but unfortunately I do not see any reason for this.
Your EG shoes look much more neater after years of use. And this bespoke pair has been worn a couple of times, and they already have these “bubbles” on vamp area.
If I would received such shoes, I would return to Nicholas and ask him to alter them or asked for refund.
Modern shoemakers make a product that does not match the price and final quality and this is sad. This is very similar to nowadays model of business: take a money and then say that it’s just a first pair and the second, third, fourth will get better and better (It is not to the Nicholas personally. It is more for a bespoke shoes market)… A very convenient excuse.
Nothing prevents for a shoemaker to produce a perfect pair from the first time and not from the seventh. Only margin…..
For me it’s like getting a bespoke coat or suit jacket with folds on the back or pants with “bubbles” on the knees after first wearing…


How do you think what prevents to a shoemaker to adjust and adjust client last and modify a shoes until getting ideal pair of shoes for the custumer? Only desire from shoemaker side to do it. But If he will do this, he will lose a money. As the King Solomon said – ” There is nothing new under the moon.”
A shoemaker made a pair of shoes that do not match what was ordered (We all waiting an ideal pair when place an order to a shoemaker. Isn’t it ?). In order for the shoes match to the order(ideal pair), you need to order another pair of bespoke shoes.
Don’t you think that this is ridiculous and illogical?
But if you are satisfied…


Hi, Simon,
How are the shoes doing?


Will be great to see how this shoes are looking now.


Hello Simon,
Did you solve with the “bubbles” on the vamp area ? Still interesting for all of us how the shoes are looking after a several wearings and how are this shoes ages. It will gives to a lot of Nicholas customers understanding what awaits their shoes in the future and demonstrate his skills in bespoke shoemaking.
Apparently to the photo the problem is that the internal volume of the shoe does not correspond to the parameters of your foot. The part of the shoe in which the laces on the shoes are located is overlapping and climbed on top of each other. There was an impression that Nicholas incorrectly adjusted the last or made a mistake with the measurements of your feet.


How will you lace up your shoes, say, in a year or 20 wearings, when they stretch a little? You do understand that because of this as you say “could be called a small issue” they will just hang out on your feet… It seems to me that showing such photos of Nicholas works many people will consider his work incompetent, since it has not been corrected in any way so far. If the bespoke refers to a luxury element of the wardrobe, then looking at the photo, it seems that this is just inept work and lack of experience. It’s strange that Nicholas even dared to deliver such pair to his client. 


If this shoes are made more precisely why the part of the shoe with the laces is overlapping and climbed on top of each other? The defect that is present now is already significant and the effect of “bubbles” will only increase and spoil the appearance of the shoes.
It is very strange that Nicholas Templeman did not react to such an unacceptable defect in any way.


Wait… if I sort of believe shoe “in general” not stretching (much?), due to better quality leather and better fit, lacings I’m having a hard time believing will not stretch..

I remember you saying you need to wear bespoke shoes for a bit before giving them back to the maker for a bespoke trees exactly because leather will adapt to the feet and will always be a bit different from the last…(cleverly or GG, I can’t recall)


Apart from what looks like excellent craftsmanship, I don’t really think the rather rustic details (derby, grain leather, reddish colour, (nice!) stitching) go very well together with what looks like a light, slim construction and the elongated shape. Overall a little too much of a hybrid for me, and as you mention, I wonder how versatile they will turn out to be in the long run. Also, it seems like despite what you describe as a great fit, there is already very prominent creasing over the entire front of the shoe, which reduces the intended elegance of the elongated shape (I think this is a natural problem exactly of that shape).

I find the general idea that bespoke shoes should look “bespoke” in major design choices very questionable. In that sense, a purple alligator triple monkstrap boot would certainly look bespoke, but also very bad, in the same way as the powder-blue silver-buckled single monks I have seen on Nicholas’ twitter page. I think even a moderately trained eye can somehow pick up the difference between, let’s say, Lobb bespoke black oxfords and even EG RTW shoes in the same style simply for the subtle details. My mantra for dressing well is that people should remember that you looked great, but not what you wore, and I think this is applicable to bespoke commissions in particular. I also read recently that, for instance, EG MTO decline certain orders that they find in bad taste (not sure if true), which I find a very laudable approach.

Sorry if this sounds critical, in a broader perspective these are still of course very nice shoes!


So after a year, did you find them to be versatile and worn a lot? How did the creasing develop?



The apron is certainly long, and I wonder if making it shorter would have made the shoes look more casual? They would still be sleek, but do you think they would work with jeans in that case?


The shoes look very nice Simon. You made the point that the shoes are more subtle their design compared to other bespoke makers. I got the impression that this was mostly down to Nicholas’ style rather than your preferences. For example, did you request a bevelled waist as opposed to a more striking fiddle back one? Or is that simply Nicholas’ style?


Also, I would add that relatively young Chinese brands offer what previously was thought of as bespoke details like handwelting, close cut heels and slim, bevelled, rounded or fiddleback waists, with finishing comparable to Saint Crispin’s levels (opinions differ on this last point, though), for about 600 EUR. Which is interesting.


Yep, ACME, Yeossal, Sons of Henrey and more are all doing excellent work. The main nervousness I’ve seen is around sizing and delivery times.

I ordered a pair of Yeossal and sold them due to poor fit, and got 5 eBay messages from people specifically saying “not looking to buy these, but can you let me know what import fees / customs you got hit with?” (I’m in the UK).


Yes, “young” is the operative word and the jury is still out on the Chinese shoes. A better assessment will be made of them when we start to see well-worn pairs knocking about, not the shiney recently unboxed pairs styled next to watches, cigars and whiskey glasses that we see permeating the net these days. I have experimented with a pair from a brand mentioned in this posting (one of the more expensive brands) and so far, I find the leather to be noticeably inferior – possibly below that of Vass and Carmina – as well as the finishing to be on the poor side. I’ve seen postings of some that you can find on YouTube reviews and forums where the toe tap nails are popping out the shoes and the sole to upper stitching clearly exhibiting poor quality, likely due to the rush in completion required to keep the price low. I think many people are simply willing to sacrifice and trade in higher quality leather and some quality found on similarly priced footwear in exchange for the highly sought-after check list; hand welting, beveled waist, small heels, etc., attributes largely unnoticeable except by the hardened shoe connoisseurs. Others are joining the futile chase to get replicas of Fakudas and Galways, which are price prohibitive to all but the rich and prodigal. And some are just experimenting.

That they are made in China is immaterial except to the extent China doesn’t exactly have the most stringent consumer and advertising laws which portends that no one actually knows how some of these shoes may be manufactured.

This all being said, I do like that Chinese shoes represent an expansion of the available options on the market and, because of the lower price, provides economic access to a wider client base. This is a really good thing. And I sincerely hope that in a year or two we see happy customers in these shoes, myself included.


That is interesting, Jackson.

I have two shoes from newly started Chinese HW brands. One with finishing and construction on par with my Saint Crispins’, the other pair far below. It depends on the brand, I assume.

I would think the smooth leathers are sub par compared to more expensive European brands, the suedes not necessarily.


The one not comparable to StC is House of Agin, through Mattina. But it’s an unfair comparison, because House of Agin never intended to compete with brands in that tier. They have compromised on components and finishing to be able to offer a hand welted shoe in the 400 euro range.

The brand which in my experience compares to StC is Oct.Tenth. I only have one pair from them in suede, but it’s comparable to my StC’s in suede in construction and finishing. You don’t get the extended heel stiffener and terrific arch support of StC, but you get a hand welted waist.


I thought I might share my experience as well. I had a desire to acquire some shoes/boots made in other parts of the world than Europe, where nearly all of my footwear comes from. So I went about trying Fugashin, Oct. Tenth, Txture and Sagara. Received the last of them two weeks ago. I do intend to get some bespoke pairs from Tye Shoemaker, my absolute all time favourite, yet it seemed so distant a possibility in the future. But I digress.

The comment on the quality of leather seems rather silly to me considering all of these brands offered items in a variety of leathers. My Oct. Tenth Lazymans are in a Navy Small Hatchgrain from Annonay, and the Fugashin Saddle Oxfords in a Du Puy Mottled Brown and Ivory.

At the same time I intentionally went for local leathers in my Monkey Boots and Donkey Puncher-style boots from Indonesia. The quality is indeed different and they’re themselves quite frank about it. Yet it is so well reflected in the price. Also, some of them are really at the beginning of building a good supplier network and the tanneries apparently have been getting better over time, learning from the issues of the past.

In terms of construction and finishing, Oct. Tenth felt closer to Crispin’s though they obviously lack a house style at this point. Fugashin was perhaps a notch lower than Carmina though I am comparing distinct and somewhat unusual styles here. I haven’t handled John Lofgren or Real McCoy’s boots to make any comment on the Indonesian ones though they’re lovingly crafted.

There was a similar comment made on Luxire, which I again found odd at the time as they offer the same fabrics from well regarded mills too. Perhaps the point is that none of these brands should offer any material of lower quality but I would like to believe this is a matter of learning about different fabrics while trying to provide as affordable product options as possible. I have also had one made in Luxire’s thick brown canvas material which hasn’t shrunk at all. And others in VBC, Minnis, Loro Piana etc.

Sorry about the long comment.

Jackson Hart

RAM, the point you may be missing is that just because a brand asserts that it uses the same sources for leather as larger and more expensive and well-known high quality brands, does not mean at all that they are getting the same quality of leathers as those more expensive brands. Leathers are a limited resource, just like any other commodity and houses like Lobb tend to get the first shot at purchasing the best leathers and it’s an expensive endeavor; likely impacting the costs as much as labor. Of course a brand can also buy cheaper leathers from those exact same sources.
Generally, A newer player simply isn’t going to get access to these top-quality leathers the same way and the high cost of these materials will make their access cost ineffective for the prices at which they need to sell. They can, however, obtain other lower-quality leathers from the exact same tanneries and technically can say they use the same sources. In fact, it’s a warning sign when brands tout the leather tanneries they use and fabric houses as a primary marketing point. It’s usually a sign of lower-quality products.
People who are usually mesmerized with Chinese brands are usually coming up from Carmina and TLB, etc., not down from Fosters and Fukuda, so their perspectives are skewed and sometimes a little uniformed. One pair of StC isn’t going to provide a good benchmark for making a meaningful comparisons of shoe quality.
I am excited to see newer brands and more affordable brands of all products, from Yeossal to Luxire, but I believe cognitive dissonance sometimes causes people to believe they are getting the exact same thing as products that costs multiple times more and the price difference is merely reflective of the lower labor costs in India or China or Vietnam. While this may be true to a small degree, it’s way too simplistic to have a legitimate basis in truth and account for the significant price difference. I have a close friend who works for a trade ministry in a western country and, while I cast no aspersions on any particular company and I believe Yeossal and Oct 10th to be highly reputable, she tells me that the advertising, marketing and consumer protections standards are not the same as in the Italy, the US or UK. They can basically tell you anything notwithstanding the truth with impunity. So, the ultimate arbiter of quality will have to weigh in on the quality of Chinese shoes – that arbiter is called “time”.
In a few years, we’ll begin to see them after being worn and beaten with life’s journeys and if the leather quality is poor, or the construction methods are shoddy, we’ll know then. Father time can’t be cheated.
My comment about the quality of leather is from my own observation. Having owned quite a few very high-quality bespoke shoes, I believe my ACME shoe leather to be inferior. I cannt say for sure yet if I am correct, and it may be unfair to compare them to YF or Koji Suzuki, but that is my current opinion.
I understand it’s standard internet talk to call other people’s comments “silly” or “stupid” when you disagree with them but the rule should be to treat people on the internet the same way you would treat them in person; with the same restraint, curtesy and respect.


@Jackson: “possibly below that of Vass and Carmina”. Do you mean that Vass leather is the same mid level quality like carmina? I would say it is probably somehere between C&J and EG.

Jackson Hart

Alexander, you may be right. I only own one pair of Vass and multiple Carmina. What I meant was that Vass and Carmina leather may be better than Yeossal and ACME and not even close to Fukuda, Koji Suzuki or Lobb or even StC – although it’s difficult to compare Saint Crispin’s to any shoes because it primarily uses crust leather for RTW, it provides many different leather options of varying quality – none of which I would call “low”.

Omar Asif

@ Alexander: yes I was also surprised at that. As far as I know, Vass uses highest grade French calf – I am not sure about the tannery but it could be Annonay. They use Aniline dyed leather which has a different look to the leather used by English makers (not sure about the exact terminology but it is not fully finished) so it will never have the look of C&J or EG.


Is there a reason Nicholas and you decided not to install flush metal toe taps? I have found that they greatly extend the life of the sole. I have them on one pair of dress shoes and plan to have them on all of them as they are resoled. I’ve seen that many bespoke shoemakers include them regularly.


Hi Simon. I notice that the fit of recent bespoke shoe commissions has been better than your earlier attempts. Is it possible that this is partly due to you becoming more practiced and effective at communicating to the maker during the process? I haven’t tried bespoke shoes yet but I’m sure it’s a learning process for the customer just as it is for tailoring.

Omar Asif

hi Simon
These are very elegant looking shoes indeed, though personally I am not sure I will go for an elongated shape such as this for a Derby, but that’s a personal view. From a style point of view, do you think a narrower waist would look odd with a Derby, generally speaking?

Also you mention you had several fit issues with the first Cleverly you got made – can you elaborate what those were? I don’t recall reading about those in detail on earlier posts.

Andrew Poupart

Beautiful shoes, Simon. In fact, almost identical to a pair Nicholas made for me a few years ago. I think the leather on mine was an Annonay, although Nicholas would know for sure. I can, however, attest that these shoes will age very well indeed.

As for looking bespoke, the detail that I think sets your shoes and mine apart from RTW split-toe Norwegians is the lack of a split toe. Nicholas and I discussed this aspect at the time, and I went for it precisely because it was a detail that was otherwise simply not available. No RTW maker would make such a shoe. When I wear the shoes I very much doubt that anyone notices, but *I* notice and that’s what counts. Nicholas has also made me a pair of non-cap toe Oxfords that are simply superb.


They look nice. I just wanted to point out that Nicholas makes plenty of more casual shoes that look clearly bespoke. You can see examples on his Instagram.


Simon, these look very nice. May I ask a few technical questions?
1) Do you know the tannery for the upper leather?
2) On the outer sole, what is stitches per inch achieved?
3) Please advise the heel height
4) I note you forgot about the toe plates, but is there any reason you didn’t opt for some rubber grip pad on the soles?
5) Finally am I right in remembering Nicholas uses some form of roofing felt material inside his bespoke shoes rather than cork?

Once again, nice shoes

roman seefeldt

Hello Simon,
Do you know the exact specifications of the leather used? Maker, Name and Color?
Thank you so much.


I think these look great. Very handsome shoes.

It seemed as if you rarely wore derby shoes in the past, but that you also had something specific in mind with these, given the color and elegant shape. I’m curious what sorts of outfits you’re thinking of pairing them with.

Given some of the discussion about the last and toe shape, I wonder if that might be addressed in a future post? You have already covered the relative formality of various styles of shoe — oxford, derby, loafer, etc. — and I think that’s easy for most to discern. But then there’s a range of formality within each style, depending on narrowness of the last, roundness of the toe, length of the vamp, and so on, which is a bit more difficult. I’m sure you have some good principles worth sharing, as always. Thanks!


Like the fabric of your new Abbrachi shirts – but the collar seems V spread!


Hi Simon,
Thanks for the review of your new Templeman shoes. It was very interesting. As you know there is a lot of debate amongst bespoke shoe lovers around shoemakers only getting the 2nd or 3rd pair right, which considering the amount that the shoes cost, is an important consideration when crossing the rubicon from ready to wear to bespoke. As such I was wondering if companies like John Lobb Paris and Berluti (who make trial shoes as part of their bespoke offering) make a perfect first pair as a result. So for the site could you commission a pair from each of these two storied companies to see whether it is possible to achieve a perfect shoe in every aspect – fit, design, make, materials used and service 1st time around. It might put the 1st pair myth/reality to bed once and for all and make for a really insightful post. As a disclaimer I have nothing to do with either of the companies mentioned and I have commissioned bespoke shoes from a number of well-known companies over the last 20 years.




What is your impression of Lobb of London? Just from a word of mouth point of view?


I don’t agree entirely on grain leathers, I love the couple of pairs of EG Galways I have in grain leather, and Zug has its uses in sturdy, water resistant boots. I do get the plastic comment on cheaper grained shoes with lower leather quality though.

Interesting regarding the facings not lining up – I have one foot smaller than the other (a little more than most people) and I find the facings often don’t line up on the smaller foot, but are fine on the larger. I’d like them to, but realise that I’d likely need to go bespoke to remedy it, and even then it doesn’t seem to be guaranteed.


Great shoes.! The best on PS so far.

Great article! I was looking forward to your review of Nicholas Templeman for a long time.


I am so very jealous that you can wear these shoes, Simon. I have super high arches, so the only shoes I can safely wear are Mephisto’s (mostly hand made in France). They’re “expensive” (in the $400 – $500 range), and they’re not nearly as elegant as the shoes you feature here. I did have four pairs of Hadleigh’s (from Dallas) tassel loafers…think I got stopped by about 2 women a day to tell me they were works of art. So, I see the appeal.

Deborah Carre

A great review of a fellow shoemaker and thanks for the mention. My thinking is that Nicholas is spot on with the fit. I think that a small gap at the top of the facings on a Derby is no bad thing, as it allows for the leather to relax and stretch a little with longer term wear (I noted you had worn these 12 or so times); not so with an Oxford however.



The leather, etc., looks very nice, almost reminiscent of the leather recovered from the old ship in the Baltic.

However, the top stitching over the toe, is definitely out of alignment with the sole (plate).

While I have no doubt the comfort is there, from an ascetic viewpoint, would you accept such a variance from a tailor? An experienced cobbler should have been able to look at your feet, as well as the last they built, and anticipated this.


Could you please advise where you got your wedding band.
Many thanks,


The reply button is no longer available on your comments.

Is this intentional or a fault?



Hi. I noticed that too but I simply replied to myself, then the website posted my reply after Simon’s. So same effect as a dedicated reply button when there was one.


Dear Simon, great shoes & stunning colors, congratulations. I would be interested in your opinion about vintage bespoke shoes. I have been offered a pair of new John lobbs from the 1980s, superb construction, never worn and well stored, only the soles feel a bit stiff. At a price of 500£, it is similarly priced like a pair from current Gaziano&Girling end of the line sales. What would be your advice how to choose and where to spend? Thanks.


Thanks for posting these wonderful pictures and your great review. On top of all this, Nicholas is a really charming person and kudos to him for exceedingly beautiful work!


Hi Simon, in the first two paragraphs at the very start of the review where you say that with shoes you generally buy more rtw than bespoke, correct me if I’m wrong but you’ve reviewed four bespoke commissions over the past year or so. Are you saying you’ve bought more rtw shoes over the same period in addition to your bespoke commissions?



A very interesting and insightful article – I just wish that I had been able to read it a few years ago before I indulged in a (first) pair of bespoken shoes from another well known London shoemaker. I was under the impression that I would finally walk away with (in) a pair of shoes that would be wonderfully comfortable, distinctive, and precisely to my taste. Alas, I ended up with a pair of shoes so uncomfortable that I can scarcely wear them at all: they sit in my shoe cabinet, almost unused. A huge disappointment, which has really put me off the idea of trying a different maker.


Dear Simon, I noticed that there are no metal toe plates on this pair. Is it because they are clearly casual? There are plates on your more formal Fukuda ones, if I remember correctly. What are your latest thoughts on metal plates in general, if I may ask? Thank you!


Thanks, I saw that a few minutes too late. Sry

Matt H

The shoes look great, although the apron looks a bit misaligned.
You say this is your first time choosing grained leather, but don’t you already own a pair of Cleverley in authentic, and Stefano Bemer in imitation, Russian reindeer leather?

Starr Bryant

Can you help me better understand men shoes. I read about Italian, English and American shoes. We purchased Magannai, Mezlan and Allen Edmonds shoes. Now I am learning about Carimina, G&G, JL, Vass and more high end shoes. Are our past purchases a mistake? I read where people complained about Camina customer service and being stuck with brand new shoes damaged. It sounds Bespoke shoes take a while too get right! Are G&G shoes on sale a good deal for a first-time buyer? My husband is retired. He takes good care of his shoes and since COVID we don’t go out that much. He still has 20 year olds Mezlan shoes in good shape and other shoes just as old. They are polished with both hill and toe taps and nicely stored. Can you please make some suggestions from 1 to 5 the best quality read too wear shoes (I want to buy a pair of Oxford, loafers, monk straps, broque and another shoe) I like to stay in the $500.00 -$600.00 range. Anything higher has too be a very special shoe for a memorable occasion! Thank you…new to your channel…I find it very helpful and informative!

Be blessed!


500€-600€ + vat, another one to consider seems to be Antonio Meccariello. People seem to rate it really high on leather quality. Downsides? Sizing can be tricky to nail, and out of stock products takes 6 month to get. I ordered a pair beginning of December. So still a while to wait before I’ll receive it.
For a “bespoke look” and, in my opinion tlb artista quality leather, there is yeossal.

Aside from that, what Simon said.


Hi Simon,

As a tangent from your observation that the styling of these shoes is relatively smart, I was interested to read elsewhere (at another well-regarded menswear site) that oxfords were to be worn with suits only. The author was of course opining a personal rule.

I now seldom wear suits, but I will still wear oxfords with odd jacket-trouser combinations – which are still tailored – to the point where derbys have been expunged from my regular rotation entirely in favour of Chelsea boots and loafers. Instinctively I would wear wholecuts with suits only but those with some broguing (e.g. a G&G St James II) I would consider more versatile. I guess there is a spectrum within the broader category of oxfords and scope for case-by-case wear.

Could I please ask if you have such rules when it comes to oxfords? Or any such ‘guidelines’ when it comes to shoes? Thank you.


Dear Mr. Crompton, I have one question concerning shoe trees for bespoke shoes. Similarly, to the shoe trees shown in your article, I noticed that many bespoke shoe trees are much more flat in comparison to shoe trees, that can be purchased from regular stores. May I ask you, why this is the case.? Many thanks


Yes Sir, I meant vertically thinner in the front part. Some shoe trees that I have seen, are really flat and do not stretch the creases out, like a regular shoe tree from the store does, so I thought maybe there is reason for this? Thanks for you reply.