It turns out that my first foray into bespoke was not a suit or a shirt but rather shoes. In mid-2017 I started contacting a Napolese shoe maker by name Antonio Meccariello. I wish I had kept better records of how I found certain artisans like Antonio so that I could share that process with you here, but I don’t remember how I first heard of him. How you hear of quality artisans is just as important as the rest of the process. My current resources are Hugo Jacomet and Simon Crompton. Hugo wrote two books; “The Parisian Gentleman” and “The Italian Gentleman” in addition to his Youtube video series “Sartorial Talks”. Simon Crompton retired from his 9 to 5 to run his blog “Permanent Style” full time. Simon has the most extensive background, experience and insight of anyone I have found so far. I sent a question to one of his blogs regarding entering into the world of bespoke which I will share with you here:
As reaffirmation, Antonio Meccariello was heralded as one of the elite bespoke shoe makers listed in Hugo’s book “The Italian Gentelman”. It would be a year later in mid-2018 that I would reach out again to Antonio to start the process of having a pair of shoes made. He made it clear to me that since I was not going to him and he wasn’t coming to me, that this was not true bespoke but rather semi-bespoke because I had to measure my feet myself and email him the drawings and dimensions. There is a lot lost in this process, meaning a shoemaker sees more than just the measure when they measure your foot, which is one of the reasons that I reached out to Simon.
If you look at Antonio’s shoes on Instagram: it is hard not to want a pair. So I decided to go for the semi-bespoke option. For $2,600, which I wired to Antonio’s bank in Italia, I would receive a test pair and the final pair. Two pair of hand-crafted shoes by an artisan of this skill seems like a great deal. I sent Antonio, who seems quite friendly and happy to communicate, images of the drawings of my feet and images of the measurements as well. Then I watched a video titled “Bespoke Shoe Making Process: Measurements” by Kirby Allison of The Hanger Project, another go to for Sartorial advice. After the video, I decided I should send Antonio more information about my feet. So I sent him images of the insides of my most worn to date Ferragamo loafers and images of the arch of my feet and a video of my feet standing without socks. Anything I could think of to help. He was grateful and now I wait. Here is that Hanger Project video: