The shoes men acquire are very different around the world, even when they come from the same maker. I asked George Glasgow Jr. of London's George Cleverley, arguably the most global of the bespoke makers with a large Asian clientele, about the regional differences his firm sees and he told me that customers are asking for a more diverse variety of shoes than ever before. Black calf, for example, was 70% of the English market just ten years ago and now it is only about half. And though black oxfords are still fairly common in New York, they are are rarely ordered in the rest of the United States, where brown slipons predominate. Finally, as might be expected, in Beverly Hills the orders are more exotic than they are in the rest of America.
If England and America are becoming less conservative, Korea on the other hand is still classical. Cleverley's customers in that country buy black calf oxfords almost exclusively. A lot of black is worn in Japan as well but since there it is customary for men to remove their shoes each time they enter a residence or a restaurant, 60% of the bespoke shoe orders are either a casual slip-on or elastic sided shoes with imitation lacing like George Glasgow Sr.'s favorite pair in the photo. In addition, Japanese men are increasingly fonder of exotic skins and unusual colors than are men in other parts of the world.
These regional differences of course are consistent with the increased individuality that is available to the wearer of classic men's clothing today. As the formerly strict rules of what was appropriate for each social situation have faded away, men who take care with their dress are able to experiment with it more than they were a generation ago. And they are doing just that.
Photo: G. J. Cleverley