They cost nearly as much as a bespoke Savile Row suit and require a year of waiting but once a man's shoe wardrobe includes the basics, bespoke shoes may offer the most pleasure of any class of item in his closet.
Now compared to other made-for-the-wearer items, bespoke shoes arguably offer the poorest financial return on investment. Shirts of fine cloth and impeccable fit need cost no more than their ready to wear cousins and today's best quality tailored clothing often costs more than its bespoke counterpart. But hand made shoes on a custom last are more than double the cost of the best of their machine-made relations, and though the fit is often better it does not tend to be massively so unless one has a foot that needs attentions unavailable from mass produced alternatives.
Where the quality of a bespoke suit may be noticeable a city block away, the character of a bespoke shoe is usually visible only when viewed from within six feet. The handwork of their making is invisible yet, up close, it becomes obvious how their shape follows the curve of the foot. Their color is richer, their style often one of a kind and, in brown at least, their shading unobtainable by conventional means.
Ars est celare artem. In dress as in the rest of life it is art to conceal art.
In the photo, a pair of slip-on shoes by George Cleverley at the first fitting.