Making shoes for King Charles: Tony Gaziano video

Wednesday, May 15th 2024
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Forgive me for leading with the story of the shoes Gaziano & Girling made for His Majesty Charles III. It isn't the main thing we discussed in this interview with Tony Gaziano, but I know it will be the one that gets the most attention.

That comes about 19 minutes into the talk, but before and after we cover many interesting things including:

  • Why Tony thinks design is the missing element in a lot of bespoke shoemaking
  • Why the shoes have become so much more expensive
  • Why he couldn't survive without Dean Girling (audience question, right at the end)

I knew it was going to be a fun talk when Tony took the piss out of my baldness, with only a few seconds gone. And so it proved - enjoyable, entertaining, informative. This was one of our best talks in this series. I hope you enjoy it too.

 

 

Thank you very much to Tony Gaziano and his team, to Mortimer House and to all the lovely readers who attended. It was a lovely evening, and we'll try and do another one soon.

There's now a little archive of these interviews. They are, in case you missed any of them:

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Lindsay McKee

Great video.
My wife and I had the privilege of meeting Tony a couple of years ago in Savile Row when I was commissioning my first pair of shoes. They are Regent MTO.
Tony is a great guy.
He has a superb team.
I’ve some current issues with those shoes and I would hope to meet Tony again in the near future and have any problems rectified in my next pair, whether MTO or even bespoke.

Mr Spears

Hi Simon – what cloth is your jacket from?

Diego

Great look, very nice colours combination.

Robin

I would be intrigued to know what Tony is wearing because he wears it very well.

Lindsay McKee

I couldn’t help but notice a distinctive and striking silhouette of Tony’s jacket, vest and trousers.
I liked your colour combination also Simon which works well.
You both looked great.
Shoes Simon?

Lindsay McKee

Thanks

Robin

Joe Morgan ?
Is that of Chittleborough & Morgan ?

Anyhow , normally that blue jkt , grey trouser can come off like a school uniform combo but Tony really pulls it off .
Might be an idea to do a profile of him .

Michael

Been looking for an excuse to ask you about your thoughts on the whole minimalist & barefoot shoe thing in a sartorial context! On the one hand I can’t wear my FiveFingers at work, but damn if all the “barefoot/minimalist dress shoes” I’ve seen so far don’t look like black clown shoes…

Diego

I think that they are actually having a moment but more in the fashion world than in the sartorial one. Loewe currently has some shoes with that type of shape but they are obviously overpriced, as it tends to be the case with fashion brands.

Joel C

I just love these Simon. What an interesting conversation.

Misbah

Simon
To answer your question put to Joel C what I found particularly interesting was:
how Tony covered social and economic factors around shoe making, the slight stigma that factory work was somehow a secondary or last choice for individuals, but they wanted to make sure their workforce makes a decent living. Plus mentioning how those of a previous generation were happy to pass on their knowledge to the next generation but how difficult it is to recruit that new workforce,
the acknowledgement that the Victorians built beautiful robust machines to produce shoes and that we’ve lost the technical skill set to produce these,
the importance and value of team work, no man is an island, and the whole being greater than the sum of the parts,
the business decision to not chase market share by producing a trainer, but remaining true to the vision, ethos and direction of their business.
Regards

Daniel

I have 2 pairs of GG and they are really my favorites , so confortable . I ordered them on the web but fortunately they are now available in Degand store in Brussels. I hope to have once an occasion to visit the London store

AKG

Shoes have been passion of mine since I can remember. I found this talk particularly interesting with such high class maker of shoes. I hope one day I can find courage (and money!!!) to buy something from them.

Cheers
AKG

Charles

This was a really insightful interview. I’m not quite sure that I buy the convenient (and somewhat lazy) argument of Brexit and Covid for the eye-watering increase in prices for UK made shoes. It is a complex subject and I am certainly no expert on shoe manufacturing but here are a few thoughts. 
The comparison to hotels is a little misleading – prices there reflect a mix of government intervention in the form of tighter AirBnB regulation and smaller/less desirable hotels being used as part of immigration policies. Then there is the general consolidation in the sector especially now that the days of cheap money are over and the likes of Blackstone are hoovering up any real estate asset they can possibly find.
For shoes, there are of course squeezed supply chains, increased operational costs and skilled labour shortages but do they really justify the current prices? It will be interesting to see how much of the demand continues at these prices (maybe it is not an issue for Americans). But perhaps makers and brands are more set on recovering the losses during the lockdowns by maximising revenue through price increases? Alternatively, I guess they can do whatever they like to their prices in a shrinking industry which has such high barriers to entry.
Simon, I would be curious to know your thoughts – and apologies if this has been covered in depth previously.