Over the past half century, when one of the great British actors trod the boards or a politician strode through the corridors of power, or a rock star strutted across the stage, there was a pretty good chance he would be wearing bespoke shoes from George Cleverley.
Everyone from Sir Lawrence Olivier, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, to Winston Churchill, Tom Wolfe, Bryan Ferry, Charlie Watts, and Elton John. All have stepped lightly down Old Bond Street and into the Royal Arcade to the George Cleverley shop.
The original owner, the eponymous George Cleverley, was still making shoes well after he’d turned 90. The business is now run by another George, the gregarious George Glasgow. He was kind enough to give The Department of Style a guided tour.
Glasgow is quick to point out that “no one has a pair of feet… so why buy a pair of shoes..?” His point is, of course that every foot is different, so why buy a pair of shoes and try and squeeze your feet into them? Every aspect of your foot is measured, a wooden “last” is then made, and a process of several weeks is underway, including several days for polishing alone. You’ll notice in the video that Glasgow speaks of leather shoes in much the same way that Ferruccio Sorichetti speaks of leather .
Glasgow points out that like your first tailor-made suit, a pair of bespoke shoes will change how you feel about footwear forever. The shoes fit and wear like no other. They’re not cheap. But at 2800 GBP a pair, over a lifetime of seamlessly comfortable wear, they almost approach a bargain.
And they have inspired a fanatic following. The late great Alexander McQueen, a genius of bespoke tailoring, had his shoes made at George Cleverly. One customer whose name remains a closely guarded secret was calculated to have bought some 500 pairs over his lifetime.
George Glasgow and his colleagues travel several times a year. They do fittings in Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, New York, Houston, Dallas, San Francisco, and Melbourne. But we suggest that the true experience can only be had by beating a path to the London store, and walking in the footsteps of so many great customers who have come before you.