Ready to wear shoes have a certain inevitable sameness about them. So many cap toed oxfords and so many Norwegian slipons and no-one can blame the makers as the tried and true are the models that sell. It is the bespoke makers who craft interesting shoes that are not only noticeably better made than even the best ready to wear, but the most original (or idiosyncratic, depending on the shoe and your point of view). Visiting the great London makers has elements of visiting a shoe museum.
Foster & Son's Emiko Matsuda, for example, made the spectator style oxford in the photograph recently, based on a 1930's design from the Foster archive. Where most spectators have buckskin aprons so the white extends around the top of the shoe, Emiko's aprons are brown calf. Only the upper portion of the sides and a small vertical strip next to the tongue contrast. The result is a somewhat quieter shoe, if that word can ever be used to descibe spectators, and there are a dozen or more of equal interest in the store (provided they are not on tour having taken their samples with them).
The three makers with a bit of history to them are each located within a couple of blocks of the other. Start with John Lobb on St. James Street, walk up to Fosters on Jermyn Street and then over to Cleverley in the Royal Arcade. But don't tell them I sent you.