In the last chapter, I spoke about the anxieties that I faced before trying on my test pair and how the same fears evaporated after I learned about the flexible, trustworthy, and honest manner in which genuinely bespoke shoes are made. We also looked at some of the differences between goodyear welted and hand-welted shoes. If you haven’t yet, feel free to give that a read. In this exciting chapter, we will unveil my first experience visiting The Last Shoemaker headquarters in the beautiful Scottish countryside, as well as the experience I had when I put on my first completed pair of bespoke shoes.
I. Last Adjustments
Finally, as the last adjustments on the test pair are completed; after waiting for another two weeks – all throughout still showing up at work in my bizarre-looking conventional minimalist shoes – the wait is over. My first pair of fully, genuinely bespoke minimalist shoes are ready for me to wear and stride anywhere I wish – pain-free. If this pair of shoes goes well, I will never have to worry about the dreaded pain in my feet, ankles, knees, and hips. I will never have to bother with the awful designs of factory-produced shoes, which, as we all know, barely consider the natural shape of the human foot. Even if it didn’t fit perfectly just yet, the whole bespoke shoe-making process revolves around constantly communicating between the manufacturer and the customer. Ultimately culminating with a pair of perfectly fitting shoes that can have the sole re-manufactured if they wear out.
II. The Last Shoemaker
The Last Shoemaker headquarters – an eye-pleasing cuboid office made of brick, tile, and wood, located in the beautiful countryside of York, next to a local farm. Seeing the gracious grass fields and ceaseless green surrounding the area, with the smells of earth and sounds of the Scottish woods, I nearly threw off my shoes and ran out into the fields! However, an appointment with Allan was just beyond that glass door through which I could see various shoe welting tools that I had no idea what they were for. Above all, I didn’t want to get my feet muddy before I tried on my first pair of genuinely bespoke, hand welted minimalist leather shoes. As I entered, the shelves were stacked with exquisitely designed shoes as well as carefully carved shoe lasts – a welcoming sight that exuded a deep dedication to their craft. Allan welcomed me to sit down and offered me a cup of tea before retrieving my pair of shoes. Exciting, to say the least.
The shoes look just like I wanted them to. You could tell straight off the bat that Allan and those at The Last Shoemaker pay enormous attention to every detail in the shoe-making process as well as what was discussed with the customer in the initial stages. I’m truly delighted to finally see the final product; not even mentioning comfort. These shoes look so good that I would be willing to wear them even if they hurt my feet – well, maybe just to take a photograph... Even the smells were incredible – the smells of high-quality leather that I’d become accustomed to over the years – and no smell of glue whatsoever. The shoes exuded everything that I could ask for in terms of footwear: excellent shape, beautifully hand-stitched, a wide toe box, exquisite leathers, and not to mention the agile yet graceful zero-drop outer sole.
IV. Truly Bespoke
I finally took out the shoe last, put the shoes on the ground, and slipped my feet right in. They fit perfectly. The adjustments that I asked to be made for my test pair were executed superbly. For the first time in my life, the adjustments for my right foot, which is significantly larger than my left, have been made. A truly heartwarming feeling that each and every one of your concerns and requests have been taken into consideration. To me, that is what truly made the bespoke process worth every penny. Not even one time when speaking to Allan did he give me the usual inconsiderate response of: "The shoe will be uncomfortable for a while until it breaks in". Nor did he ever mention that an adjustment cannot be made. He was always listening very carefully to my personal needs, and always asked the right questions to make sure that the shoes came out just like they were meant to. This whole process is also what makes my pair of shoes truly exclusive and, as I like to say: "One in seven billion”.
V. Never Again
Never again will I have to wear a pair of shoes that undermine the quality of my life. I will never have to go to work and feel frustrated that I can barely walk from one office to another. I will never have to face a new client wearing a fake smile on my face, while in reality I want to shed tears because of the atrocious state of my lower limbs caused by terrible shoe designs. I am so grateful that I found the barefoot movement, and blessed to have discovered bespoke minimalist shoes. The barefoot movement gave me a new chance at life – to be able to joyfully walk again. The Last Shoemaker, on the other hand, gave me another chance in my professional life.