While many guys adamantly defend the humble sneaker
as footwear adequate for any occasion, interest in bespoke handmade shoes is growing among fashion-forward men. Factory-made shoes may mimic the stitching of an expert cobbler, but they can’t carry on the art of shoemaking like the brands below, each of which is receiving accolades for using traditional techniques to construct shoes the old-fashioned way.
: Based in Central Maine
, Wassookeag Moccasins was started by Mark Wintle less than a year ago after he quit his high-tech career to open up shop. Wintle hand sews each pair of leather moccasins, a craft he learned from his veteran cobbler father. The one-of-a-kind kicks are made from high-quality animal hides and are lined with deerskin or fleece. Astonishingly, they retail for no more than $130 a pair. The brand gained buzz after being featured on The Continuous Lean
, a lifestyle blog that maintains a list of cool brands that are Made in the USA
. While moccasins danced off the pow-wow scene
several years ago, there’s something authentic about a shoemaker who sells raw thread
on the side.
Born out of disenchantment with the poor quality, wasted materials and price inflation inherent to the mass production of shoes, FEITs are sourced from fine all-natural leathers (kudu, llama, elk, camel) and components (cork foot beds, buffalo leather insoles, bamboo shanks) and are handcrafted by artisans using traditional techniques. The shoes’ foundations, called “lasts,” are handmade by master Italian cobbler Verdiccio Paderone. FEIT keeps its volume low and distribution model lean in order to maintain the utmost quality control. The company makes a point of educating consumers about the material and construction of each style, but asserts that the attention they’ve attracted
from sneakerheads is because they provide the ultimate luxury—comfort.
: The roots of the American shoe industry can be traced to Massachusetts, which is where Walk-Over Shoes launched in 1758. By the early 20th
century, Walk-Over was being marketed internationally and, at one point, had nine stores in London. In the ’50s, the company fortuitously bucked the mass production trend and, now that consumer interest in handmade craftsmanship has come full circle, is once again garnering buzz
for being a heritage brand that’s preserved integrity. Models such as Saddle
and Cambridge Wingtip
are undeniably preppy, but the use of fresh colors
give the classic looks a contemporary spin. With spring now here, expect these classics to put pep in the step of even the most streetwear-loving sartorial dandies.