Simon Bolzoni, the Terry Moore-trained lastmaker at bespoke London shoemaker W.S.Foster, was in San Francisco recently and took the time to measure me for a new pair of shoes. Moore is only in the shop part-time these days, and the people he's taught over the past decade are doing most of the work.
Simon is one of four Foster workers that are the heart of the firm's march forward into a new generation of shoemaking. It's a small group and so is the entire craft - I doubt if 200 people in the world make their living at bespoke shoemaking any longer. Foster itself is one of five bespoke makers remaining in London, down from more than fifty after the Second World War.
Simon uses the methods that helped Terry Moore earn his reputation as the best lastmaker in England. He certainly took more measurements, and asked more questions about my feet, than any of the others who have measured me for bespoke shoes in the past.
The outcome of this effort will be a pair of oxblood colored semi-brogues (the design of the caramel colored pair in the photo) with the slightly chiseled toe that's Foster's house style (the toe on the pair on the left in the photo). Oxblood is the dark wine hue that's the default color for Alden's cordovans.
The craftsmanship and quality of materials that go into a pair of bespoke shoes means that they last indefinitely with proper care. If I last that long, my shoes should still be going strong about the time Simon begins training his own successor.