Acme split-toe shoes: Review

Wednesday, June 15th 2022
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Everybody loves a bargain. I think one reader referred to it as the ‘siren song’ of cheaper-but-quality clothing. 

The reference is often apt. Enthusiasts of anything expensive are drawn to the idea - like hypnotised Greek sailors - that they can get the same product from Uniqlo for a fraction of the price; only to find that it’s synthetic, treated, or simply looks cheap.

Chinese shoemakers seemed to be singing this song loudest over lockdown. Every month there was a new brand, promising the same quality as a European maker but at half the cost. 

Over the past two months I’ve been trying the brand making at perhaps the highest level among those makers, Acme, and I can say that in almost every way, the metaphor fails. The quality of the materials and make are very good. 

The only thing lacking is perhaps styles that appeal to me personally, and access to try those fits and styles, which are a little idiosyncratic. 

The shoe I tried was their 8008 split-toe derby, originally in a brown suede. I thought I’d wear a loafer most, but they recommended not starting with that as it would be harder to fit. 

This is true - but it also highlights the challenge with ordering shoes remotely. Trying their loafers would have involved a few shipments back and forth, particularly if I found they didn’t work for me and I reverted to something else like a derby. 

This would have happened within half an hour in a shop or stockist in London. I would have quickly discovered that the loafers didn’t fit my narrow heels, or were too slim for my toes, and I would have moved on to something else. 

The point is worth emphasising because although lots of PS readers have to buy online anyway - because they don’t live in a major metropolis - this lack of a physical presence is one reason the Chinese shoemakers are cheaper. Stores are not cheap, shoe stores in particular require lots of stock on site, and even trunk shows are expensive. 

I know some readers will have had a chance to see and try Acme during the recent Super Trunk in London, but this is not a frequent event. Appreciate the fact there’s an Edward Green or Alden store near you, because it’s all part of the cost.

With my shoes, there was a bit of to and fro even with the derby. The initial pair fit me well in terms of width, heel and arch (great support there) but they were too long. My toes were finishing over an inch short of the end, and the vamp was breaking twice when it bent.

Thing is, I couldn’t size down because then the shoe would be too narrow. Which highlights the other (smaller) issue with many of the Chinese shoemakers, which is that they make a very slim, elongated shoe. 

This is something I mentioned in my earlier article discussing the new Chinese brands, and has only been reinforced since. The market they’re aiming for is the sharper, perhaps slicker dresser that would normally look to Italian or French makers, rather than most English or Americans. It’s what the Asian market wants too, despite their feet being generally shorter and wider than those in the west.

Fortunately for me, Acme had a solution, which was a new version of their last. The shoes I had were on the N83, like most of their derbies. They were now developing a new one, N83+, which was 3mm shorter, a little wider and less angular. 

As they were making a new pair of shoes, I also opted to switch the material, going for black calf with the expectation that I’d wear them more in that elongated shape. 

The new shoes were an improvement. The upper was no longer breaking twice, and they were comfortable from the off.

They’re still a fairly long style, as I think comes across in the images, but they’re now on a par with something like my Corthay Wilfrids, rather than being longer.  

I should also say again, the quality was very good. These are Acme’s ready-made shoes but they have both hand-sewn welts and soles. The stitching on the upper is fine and precise (unlike an example I highlighted on the previous article). And the finishing was great.

They were a little over-polished, with some of the surface coming away, but that’s fairly common and goes after your first polish at home. The work everywhere else was perfect, including on the sculpted waist of the sole, and that tricky segue between sole and heel on the welt. 

The quality of the upper leather and other materials seems to be very good too. 

The real test of the upper is how it wears over time - softening and taking polish - but you can tell quite a lot from the initial feel and the way the skin wrinkles. This all looks to be on a par with top European makers. 

Acme are clearly looking for any little touches they can add, and the slightly flat, waxed laces finishing in brass aiglets are also nice. Personally I don’t like the brass on a smart shoe like this, but that’s easy to change and I appreciate the effort. 

Same goes for the packaging, shoe bags and shoe trees. The boxes have a curved lid, the shoe bags are lined, and the trees are purple. Again personally I don’t care about any of those things, and they can easily tip into being gimmicky. But equally I don’t mind them, and I doubt many others will either. 

My shoes cost $1650, which doesn’t sound cheap. But the comparison is with another entirely hand-made shoe, such as Stefano Bemer’s Tradizione line, which would be $2050 to $2350. 

That’s the kind of discount you’re looking at with many of the Chinese brands - something like 30%-40% compared to the same from an English or Italian maker. 

As I said, I can’t say they’re definitively the same quality, having only worn them for a couple of months. But right now I have no reason to think otherwise. I can certainly recommend them to readers therefore, and I’ll cover other, cheaper Chinese makers in the future too. 

Personally I won’t be changing where I buy from though. That’s half down to style - I wear that type of shoe so little today, and when I do I have bespoke from the likes of Cleverley - and half f down to lack of access. 

I like to see shoes in person and try them if I can, rather than doing multiple deliveries and returns, and my budget and location means I can do that. It’s also no small factor that I have a relationship with the brands, the shops and their staff, and the styles of shoes I like. 

But I know others will differ, in their situation and their priorities, and I hope my experience here is useful to them. 

Photography: shoes, on their own, and video below, Acme; shoes on me, Milad Abedi. And yes, my trousers are short in the top image. I'm lifting them up to better show the shoe. The trouser material is brown Crispaire, from this suit

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Robert

The article started with Everybody loves a bargain.

Then I saw the $1,650.

Philip

That was an odd response I have to say. “The price isn’t relevant”?

Alex

I think it’s fairly obvious that the point is that they are good value for the level of quality and relative to European brands making at a similar level.

Kingstonian

Trickers Abingdon in brown museum calf from the factory shop.
A fraction of the cost of the Chinese shoe (around £200) and a well known, long-established British brand for those who don’t need the expense of Edward Green.

Ajbjasus

Look nice, but I can’t get past the roadrunner

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acme_Corporation

Robin

It’s nice to see you embrace this brand (and come down the price bracket a little ).

I hate the snobbery around “oh but this is handmade in England “ .
I’ve found ‘developing’ countries can make things as well , if not better, then countries with a history of making a certain product.
100 Hands being a great example.

That is not to diminish English or Italian shoe makers. Their tradition and history speak volumes but sometimes they use that as a baton to beat down competitors with.

Here’s hoping to see you coming down a little more down the price bracket ( cheeky wink ).

Simon

For me it’s not snobbery around the country of manufacture; it’s about the cultural origins of the design. I think that comes through in the review; Acme is trying to make a top quality product, but it is heavily influenced by the product from European shoemakers which embodies their cultural heritage.
That’s why I find the value proposition here uncompelling – at $1.6k or $2.2k for Acme or Bemer you’re spending well above what most people would for shoes. Would you want to spend it on the ‘original’, or a perfectly executed homage to that original?

Joseph

Suppose one were to spend on the “original” rather than the “homage”. What actual value does that bring, provided that everything else (level of make, materials, fit) were more or less equal?

Whether or not 30-40% in savings is worth switching from a heritage brand to an emerging one is a debate that hardly seems necessary from that sole standpoint. It would mean so much more in the context of accessibility and style so long as everything else were more or less on par. Besides, what does heritage represent if not excellence? If an emerging Asian brand is reaching that bar, why be bothered by the idea that something as ubiquitous today as leather footwear did not originate in that continent?

Ray_Bentos

Other than the styling, I think one of the main issues with Chinese makers breaking into the US/UK markets is that there are probably only a small minority of customers at this price point who could afford to pay £1500 for a pair of shoes but not £2000.
In short, the ~30% saving is not enough of an incentive to buy from Acme over other makers with physical locations and/or a better “pedigree”.

Lucas Kittelberger

For me personally, this was the conundrum two or three years ago. the $700-$800 range for hand welted from China was very alluring, compared to twice that for hand welted from Stefano Bemer’s classica line, for example. However, I ran into similar problems that were detailed in the previous post with workmanship. So if you’re going to have to spend $1600 for top notch workmanship, I’ve decided its more worth it to go with a reputable European maker.

CJ

Completely agree with this point.

joshgtv

Yes this is a really good point. I made an impulse buy of a pair of cordovan Alden Tanker knock-offs from Meermin, I like them and wear them a lot but every time I pull them on I have (admittedly mild) regret that I didn’t just pony up the difference for the real deal rather than supporting an imitator.

Milton

I very much agree with that statement. Nobody will seriously save towards bespoke shoes. You need to do well really well economically, otherwise bespoke makes absolutely no sense. But if you are in the upper income bracket it doesn’t matter if it‘s £2000 or £1500. If you want bespoke you will pay up either way.

Benedikt

Hi Simon, will we see more video content in future reviews? I can imagine it‘s quite useful to see a suit, jacket or trousers in motion to help emphasize certain aspects of the fit. On the other side it’s maybe very time consuming.

Rob O

I agree with Benedikt, the video montage was extremely useful.

Felix

Thanks for the interesting review! Agree on the somewhat flashy style, especially for a derby.

Given your interest in sustainability and responsible production, would you know anything about working conditions, wages, environmental issues etc. for Acme and other highest-end Chinese brands? Knowing my clothes have been made by healthy and more or less well-paid workers is one of the main reasons I usually stick to European makers (and, well, not supporting totalitarian dictatorships like the PRC).

Also, as a side note, if some European powerhouses hadn’t allowed themselves VERY generous price hikes over the boom of the last years, they would be in a much better position to defend themselves against such competition now. In 2016 the standard price for Edward Greens was 795 GBP…

Johnny Foreigner

The only ‘sustainable’ thing here is the sustaining the economy of a totalitarian dictatorship, helping the regime thrive.

Jonathan

Johnny, interesting point you made. Could you substantiate a little further please? I would like to learn. Having stayed in China for a few months back in 2017, my impression is that it’s a combination of dominant state-owned sectors and private ownership. Many of these higher-end workers/makers/artisans are actually rather well-paid, and have good working conditions. Of course, this certainly doesn’t mean I endorse their regime. However, echoing others on this thread, we risk penalising these artisans for acts of their government, which they of course have no control over.

Lindsay McKee

While I don’t disagree with Robin’s comment I think it can be balanced. Are there not hidden gems in the UK, and Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa etc, from little known craftspeople, tailors, shoemakers etc. waiting to be discovered?
As long as FAIR TRADING and WORKING CONDITIONS are endorsed and fairly applied and craftspeople encouraged eg. Whitcomb & Shaftesbury’s Classic Bespoke done in India is a glowing and striking example of what can be Done. . Whether in the UK, the Americas, Europe, Asia or Africa, then I’ve absolutely no problem here… FAIRNESS & EQUITY to all please!!!

Peter Hall

I like the shoes, a very modern style. I just wonder if at that price point, online, how viable this business is. It just seems too much of a risk(fit only),obviously the quality is there.

Graham Morgan

In terms of the costs that you quoted, I presume that they exclude VAT and import/customs charges as you are importing from China. How much did you you end up paying in total?

Aaron

Personally I don’t like the brass on a smart shoe like this, but that’s easy to change and I appreciate the effort. ” Out of interest, what is a good metal for aglets on a smart shoe?
Also there’s a sentence that looks like it managed to dodge the proofread “…when I do I have bespoke from the likes of Cleverley – and half f down to lack of access.”

Aaron

I presume horn then?
I remember trying to look up things about aglets about a year ago and not finding much beyond “they exist, they’re called that and often made of metal or plastic”. Has definitely been something I’ve been occasionally curious about.

Aaron

Huh, interesting. I know laces are very replaceable etc but I always imagined bespoke shoes would use a more luxe material.

Chancellor

I’ve had a shoemaker recently make me black laces with black metal aiglets. I think the coloured metal works just as well as the usual plastic. Given laces usually fray and break on me, the increased durability isn’t helpful and I personally don’t find any particular advantage of metal.

david

Metal aiglets are also more prone to scratching the leather.

Ralph

I appreciate this will make all the liberal internationalists groan. And it is bordering on being too political but…
I would be very wary of furthering the wealth of China by purchasing anything from there. In some cases there is no alternative. Shoes are not such a case.
China is an aggressive, despotic country with a track record of poor treatment to minorities. It is only a matter of time before it becomes the next pariah state like Russia in my view.
Whilst you might argue about the ethics of punishing a small shoe business for the sins of their government, it all generates wealth by tax revenue. In a similar manner to global warming, I believe we must all take collective action before it is too late.
Ralph

Chuckle

Oh and I suppose the US and UK are not aggressive, despotic countries with a long track record of poor treatment of minorities?
Thanks for the laugh!

HP

Rwanda

Aaron

Trying to avoid saying this in any political way, but many would make the same argument for buying things from the USA. There are many other countries we purchase things from where the government has a lot of abuse, even if less international ramifications. I don’t want to say you don’t have a point, considering the impact of purchases is responsible, I just think it’s easy to get fixated on one specific area.
I also do not believe the tax from a pair of bespoke shoes benefits the Chinese government in a truly meaningful way, compared to large corporations doing business in China – yes there are things like computer chips with no alternative but this would be mere pennies in comparison.

joshgtv

Interesting point. I believe that the CCP is a cancer, but should I punish an enterprising Chinese craftsman because I disapprove of his government, over which he has zero control or influence?

Abbas

I think you really hit the nail on the head with your discussion regarding the convenience of having quality brands close by. Easy returns and exchanges definitely put me more at ease, especially with dress shoes. Having had a bad experience with the fit of a Japanese dress shoe a few years back I’m very cautious with my shoe purchases these days. There is nothing quite so disheartening as spending £500+ on a pair of shoes only to find the fit just isn’t quite right. This is really one of the main reasons why the vast majority of my shoes are British Made.

Olli

Aren’t you guys at all bothered about the fact that China is a totalitarian dictatorship that has imprisoned millions of uighurs to concentration camps and fully supports Russia’s war on Ukraine? Not to mention Tibet or Hongkong.
If you can afford £1650 shoes can you not afford £2050 shoes?

Andrew

Absolutely it does, and personally, I think this is a very tough value proposition for a number of reasons.
It is very hard for me to understand why somebody would pay £1600 for a newly established Chinese brand given all the potential hassle remote purchase entails, when he could pay less for EG RTW online or instore (MTM involving only a slight uplift in price and few emails with EG’s very helpful team) and get the quality, service and brand guarantee that comes with buying EG.
Alternatively, he could do like I do and go full bespoke for the same price as Acme with Stivaleria Savoia (c. EUR 1800 w/o VAT), which are made in the center of Milan by very pleasant people who I always enjoy to speak with when I visit Milan a few times a year. The fact that I don’t live in Milan does add a bit of complication and delay to the commissioning and delivery process, but in my opinion one shouldn’t choose to buy bespoke shoes because it is efficient or if they are in a rush to get the finished product.
The political and human rights issues that you mention also bother me a lot, as do (a) the ethics of selecting Chinese-made shoes when so many artisans in Europe (where I live) are struggling and (b) the environmental impact of shipping shoes back and forth (undoubtedly by air with DHL or similar) to China during the commissioning process. All the more reasons why I personally would never buy from a brand like this (or for example use the Sexton overseas service), regardless of the quality of their product.
The only reason I could think of why someone would chose Acme versus some of the other options I and others have mentioned is if they were in love with the Acme style, lived in Asia or maybe Australia where distance and hassle were maybe less of a concern, and Acme absolutely nailed the fit.

Jonathan

I agree with you, Andrew, with regards to your first and last points. I would argue that Simon has a number of international readers living in Asia, such as myself, who appreciate posts like these. Just as you can get quality, service and speak with very pleasant British and Italian makers, we can and are looking for the same from Japanese, Korean, and even Chinese ones. These objective reviews and assessments by Simon of makers around the world are invaluable in building up a wealth of resource which non-European readers can certainly benefit from.

Sjakie

EG really isn’t at this level….it’s basically a machine made shoe with impeccable finishing. It’s not a handmade shoe…

m

Well to be fair Olli you probably buy Chinese made whether you want it or not. Even products that wont carry label “Made in China” will in a lot of cases carry parts that are made in China and just assembled in countries marked as origin. A lot of raw ingredients are also sourced from China. If you buy a car or electronics of any kind it’s almost certain you are supporting Chinese economy in some part.
I’ve witnessed on many occasions how China has wielded its market as a weapon to brutally crush anyone who dares to question its politics, even by accident, down to even small businesses. Moreover how its directly or indirectly supports ultra-nationalistic groups that attempt and destroy, even on individual, level anyone who dares to critique any aspect of its society. To me this is not acceptable and due to this I have no qualms to suggest that it would be right thing to try and reduce consumption of goods of Chinese origin and I’ve personally done so as much as I can.
Simon if you disagree with discussing these kinds of politics here feel free not to publish this comment, because lets be clear it’s not impossible for even you to become a target.

joshgtv

Hi M, it sounds like you’ve been following the CCP’s attempts to force the Australian Government to kowtow over the last few years… thankfully resisted by both of our major parties.

Lachlan

Can’t agree with this more, and it’s the reason why I avoid products from PRC at all costs. I have no issue with luxury products produced outside of Europe/USA – there have been some excellent comments above about products such as 100 Hands coming out of India/SE Asia. Supporting the Chinese economy is a different matter…

Ed L.

Perhaps I’ve missed them in the past but this is the first video I’ve seen on the PS site. Love it.

Scott

When it comes to shoes and clothing my needs are met very nicely by a select group of American, British, and Italian makers. The workmanship, design, and materials are always superb and consistent and I’m comfortable with the companies themselves. The search for bargains from certain parts of the world is indeed a siren song that will continue and lead to a sartorial shipwreck for many. Lastly, I agree with the reader who mentioned not supporting totalitarian regimes, he’s right. So I’ll support companies only in countries that abide by the principles of western civilization and not do business with makers in communist or totalitarian regimes.

Darryl

There have been a few comments about the ethics of buying from China given its behaviour and I have to say I reckon this is spot on; but I would balance that with the belief that Simon should be looking at all the relevant products avalible and not self censure the contentious. I think at the end of the day we have to make personal decisions as to whether it is appropriate to purchase from such a country.

Scott

Agreed! Simon’s job is indeed to search and analyze all the available products as he does so well. To his credit he discusses the process as well concerning the ease or difficulty of doing business with various makers in different countries. Based on this issue alone I’ll pass on doing business in Asia. There’s just too many fantastic companies in the UK, US, and Italy.

Ralph

Completely agree. One should have the freedom to make a choice. I do not agree with trading with China under its current government. But that is my personal choice, which I have supplied evidence for. I would not limit others’ right to purchase such products if that is their wish.
I will refrain from saying anything else on the matter as I want this site to remain “Permanent Style” and not “Permanent Politics”.

Andrew

I agree with you Darryl. I commented above that I wouldn’t buy shoes from Acme for a number of reasons, including political. But that doesn’t mean that I think Simon shouldn’t cover them.

We all have to make up our own minds at the end of the day on which brands and makers we want to support, and I think Simon does a very good job of giving readers much of the information they need to do so.

Richard Baker

My understanding is there are a few good quality Chinese makers trained in Japan, returning to their native country and working in small teams or independently producing decent good footwear. The shoes are attractive and the heel cup looks well made.

A main difference is the top end UK/European will have the choice leather picks and use less of the skin to maintain the highest standards. Notwithstanding, even the lesser known countries will source leather from all the top tanneries like Stead, Baker, Horween, Annonay, Du Puy etc and all the well known soles.

In 2022 the biggest issue is maintaining a quality supply of leather as tanneries often request a large minimum order and payment up front. Also as we all know general price rises are starting to work through the system and this is adding cost to production. This is challenging for many of the talented but smaller operations.

If you cast your net wider you can find handwelted shoes MTO and sometimes MTM for significantly less than Acme at around $600-800 and at that point the proposition is interesting. The footwear history of some of these other countries has a basis in colonisation by European countries that in turn left a shoe making culture.

Returning to China, Yearn is mentioned, but there are upwards of 20 others elsewhere I could name. I dont think they are trying to compete with the likes of Lobb, EG, Yohei Fukada etc, but trying to be a step up on the RTW brands and as good if not more responsive than the C&J Handgrade. Also if you think Church is now charging near £850 for RTW Oxfords, you could go to a maker and get something MTO in your selected style, often with tweaks to better fit your foot from a maker with more knowledge than your average sales person. I have had many a long discussion with them and the passion they put in from studying all the well known makers, last development and even buying and dismantling preowned shoes will only lead to improvements.

That said, at $1650, I can think of 3 hand-welted makers in Europe with excellent leather and footwear ahead in the pecking other; 1 of which would be a definitely positively clear favourite IMHO.

Omar Asif

Hi Richard
Could you name those European makers at this price point and the other Chinese ones which you mention?
Thanks

Simon

Sorry, but for me they look like clown shoes. I don’t like the style at all.

YC

I did not appreciate Acme’s customer service at all, two questions in, and they just act like snobs, making claims such as ‘they make the BEST shoes’… what is best?

Gary Mitchell

Maybe they are just proud of their product…. I don’t appreciate ‘Boy Bands’ but I don’t mind if they are what they are.
Accept and own your moment and let them do the same…. peace and love brother… I am feeling my zen is properly balanced today. ‘Best’ is at best relative and not ubiquitous.
Good luck, good hunting, move fast and stay low.

Gary Mitchell

Im not loving them, maybe in suede I would be happier.. but style is style and personal so its really all about quality and price and convenience (I have to order-in most of my clothes because of my location so returning things is a hassle but something I am used to.) I would be happy buy and wear them if they had the quality I wanted but the price at the moment is not low enough to take a risk, I would prefer to pay more for something I know (all about risk and reward I guess). As for where they are made, well everything has to be made somewhere and if you look under a microscope then nowhere is perfect; the answer is simple, if you don’t want to buy from China then don’t but as I have said before on this site, I have homes and family in Hong Kong and NE China, I am from UK and I have lived in Africa for 16 years….. its all the same, its all different but its all the same… its all part of life’s rich tapestry. Today I am wearing a mixture of Japanese, American and UK made clothes/shoes and Im guessing my socks are made in China; we are citizens of the world now.

Steve B

Maybe it’s best to buy locally rather than globally to reduce the impact of such trade. Citizens of the World is I think a naive concept in todays world. No nation is perfect but some nations are more harmful to their inhabitants & neighbours than others & we should consider this in every purchase made. Likewise today I wanted asparagus but not from Peru thanks due to its detrimental impact with such trade.

Gary Mitchell

I buy my asparagus from the local supermarket 😉
Point taken Steve and I do understand your view, its just not my view.

Colin

Hi Simon….have you or your readers had any experience of Oriental Shoemaker, who I believe are a Japanese brand and can be purchased through Yeossal? They have some elegant designs in their handgrade range and a decent range of customisation options starting at around $SGD 800. Thank you

E.O

All I can say, owning two pairs of shoes from them, is that “if your feet go well with C&J, Oriental’s shoes probably won’t work on you.”
The design and lasts favour the typical Asian foot, high arch, small heel, wider feet. I found my feet to work perfectly for Oriental, while for C&J I had to let go of a few pairs because the fitting just didn’t work for me.

hope this helps!

Jonny

Hi Simon,
I was wondering if any of the MTM services you’ve covered so far cut and produce in China? Obviously not including bespoke from WW Chan in HK. Also not including Edward Sexton that’s cut in the UK. As far as I know P Johnson isn’t manufactured in China these days, but I recall that becoming a bit of a public issue a few years back.

Jonny

Do you think it’s something you’ve avoided because you don’t feel the quality produced out of the Chinese MTM factories meets the quality levels you’re looking to highlight on PS? Or is it other reasons? My understanding is that they’re capable of producing technically very high quality garments (including a lot of the hallmarks of ‘higher-end’, eg hand attached collar/sleeve, hand-padded lapels). Obviously I understand that the result is entirely at the hands of the fitter/salesperson however.

Jonny

Sorry, definitely didn’t mean to accuse you of avoiding it on the grounds of it being manufactured in China – more what you said, that you’re yet to really see evidence of it provided at that level over here.

Nigel Blythen

If you can stomach dealing with Communist China I suppose they are all right .

JGB

I’ve seen them a lot on YouTube, IG, and the like. People rave about the shoes, but I can’t get behind the style.

Steve B

As I’ve stated before on your previous article on Chinese shoes, I find it hard to stomach the thought of trading with a dictatorship like China & the way it runs its economy & society – this of course does not relate to the people, but the state is all consuming & not to be trusted. On another dimension I wonder if we should be trading across the world on products available nearer to home ; it must be less sustainable & more harmful to the planet. I certainly won’t purchase from China or Russia knowingly or other unethical producers.

Yosef777

Perhaps this is too much of an assumption in regards to ps readers but at the end of the day, geo politics be damned, it is a matter of aesthetics and quality for most. IMO they fall short in the aesthetics department and as Simon said time will tell in regards to the latter.

Ray

Thanks Simon and Great review! As a Chinese living Hong Kong, I’d absolutely love to see more cover on Chinese brands.

H

Hi and thanks as usual. Based on your readers’ comments (that have well above average income and style), this is not a bargain by far. If one is lucky during online sales, one could find EG or JL for less than half the price of this ACME…

H

Thanks and fair point, dear Simon. Question is then also, as quite a few commented here, whether this discerning and politically aware clientele would rather spend $400-500 more and go for a known European bespoke producer. Alas, there is nothing wrong with choices and preferences for folks…great weekend

Gregory N

Hi Simon!

Not specifically referring to the article but speaking of bespoke shoes (or any quality shoes that can last for decades) – I am experiencing the consequences of the so-called arch collapse, which means that my foot size got bigger and most of the pairs I have (especially the somewhat pointy/slimmer models) became unwearable (seems to be age-related phenomenon amplified by the 2 years of working from home/not wearing dressy shoes that often).
I was wondering if awareness of this topic (the foot size changing with age) would be something you would like to point out to the readers?

Rob Mac

Very nice shoes. Fortunately for me I have no need for custom made footwear. Crockett & Jones and Alden fit my feet and my wallet perfectly.

John

It’s great to see all of these emerging Chinese brands being covered on PS.

Simon, would it be possible to have someone from one of these brands (who have things made in Mainland China) write a guest piece about the growth of menswear garment production in China? As someone with very close ties to China – i write this message from Shanghai – it is frustrating to read the same points of criticism about not wanting to support the CCP. Without going down the rabbit hole of politics, which PS is not about, i do think it would help people’s understanding to hear from one of these setups. Knowing Chinese people, it might be hard to find someone that is willing to come on here to discuss having things made in China for fear of what it might mean for their business, and there not being much to gain. Nevertheless, it would be a great education for all of us, especially given the growth in the quality that these brands offer.

Milton

This one puzzles me:
I personally buy Crocket & Jones or Edward Green. I find it‘s the perfect balance between quality and price, and many pairs have aged beautifully. If I had money to burn I could understand to have bespoke shoes made as a celebration of the craft, and because it‘s a fun experience to visit the studio. It probably also feels good to know you can afford Fukuda, Bemer or Imadegawa.
I really don’t understand the appeal of spending significant money for a large unknown Chinese brand that for whatever reason shares a name with Loony Tunes’ Duffy Duck and Bugs Bunny creator which offers none of those benefits.
Can‘t really visit the workshop, zero heritage and not even bragging rights ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Milton

Thank you for the reply

My argument is that for bespoke, I would personally place great value on the maker. Someone known who‘s been a long time in the business, a workshop I can visit, and so on. If this is something I wanted, I wouldn’t mind to pay a large premium.

Olof

I have used the bespoke maker Jan Kielman in Poland with a good result. They have offered bespoke shoes for decades. All made in Europe with a very good fit. The finish might be better with some others. Price is great though, 850-950 GBP. For classic oxfords I wear with formal suits for work its very hard to beat.

Russ

The video at the end of this article is a nice idea, Simon, so more of that please.
You omitted to mention ‘aftercare’ which is what I asked the Acme rep when I went to the London trunk show. Acme admitted they have no way of enabling me to resole the shoe with the same fine stitching as the original. I would therefore rather pay for something like a G & G made to order, at a similar (or less in the sale) price, or their top of the range Optimo shoes and know these will go back to their Kettering factory to be resoled and re-lasted if necessary to the same standard. Less is not always more from an overseas maker.

Russ

I said to the three reps ‘nice shoes, but do you plan to have a UK outlet which will resole them with the same fine stitching?’ They admitted there were no such plans. I said to them that the problem is that I want these shoes to be a long term investment and if I take them to a high street cobbler for resoling he’ll use his generic machine and the stitching will be thicker with less stitches to the inch, and certainly not through the same holes, which spoils the elegance of the shoes and weakens the welt construction. They just shrugged their shoulders.

Russ

Actually, Simon, I asked the Acme guys if the shoes have to go back to China, therefore, and from their reaction I don’t think there are any plans to organise even that.

Russ

And please can commentators keep politics out of this excellent website. The rights or wrongs of a particular regime are a separate debate from the quality and style of men’s clothing (which is why I and others follow this blog) and people can decide according to their own morality whether they wish to buy or not from a particular country. None of us would own a television or drive a car if we were seriously capable of eliminating all products from certain Far Eastern regimes.

Sahaya

Hey Simon, first of all it is another great article from you. Second, I would love if you can review the Indian shoe maker Bridlen. They make Goodyear welted shoes in the old school method. Would be an interesting review from you.
Regards.