At London's 83 Jermyn Street, the home of shoemaker W S Foster and Son and its sister company, bootmaker Henry Maxwell, the last of Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts sits not far from those of former customers Franklin Delanor Roosevelt, Fred Astaire and Clark Gable.
Terry Moore, by repute the best lastmaker in England, supervises the making of Foster's shoes and boots and has personally trained the rest of the five person bespoke team. Moore began his career with Peal and Co., in its time perhaps London's most famous boot and shoemakers, moving to Foster after that venerable firm shut its doors in 1965.
The Foster shape is a soft chisel toe with a lovely waist. Other than the uppers, which are sewn by machine, the bespoke shoes are made entirely by hand. I was especially taken by the pictured cap toes with gray suede uppers - if I can get fitted in this lifetime I think that will be the model Foster shoe that I choose. They have the look of button boots but I'd be inclined to wear them much more often than I would the boots.
Foster showed me several other unique bespoke samples, such as the Thomas model second from the left, that are relatively well priced at £1,400 ex VAT (about $2,800). MD Sarah Adlam and a lastmaker have begun accompanying shirtmaker Harvie & Hudson on semi-annual visits to the United States. The next trip will be in October - watch the Visiting Artisans Calendar for a schedule.