Few people can appreciate a well-crafted shoe until they've had their own custom designed. The art of the well-made shoe still thrives at Foster & Sons. One of the oldest custom shoe and bootmakers in the world, Fosters & Sons has been crafting fine footwear for 175 years. A trip to the Jermyn Street workshop in Mayfair feels like visit to a shoe museum. Shoe moulds hang from the wall including those that belonged to famous clients such as Fred Astaire, Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable, and Katharine Hepburn. When I visited I expected the workshop to be filled with hunched over old artisans but I was surprised to find a young crop of craftspeople in their 20's carrying on the shoe-making tradition.
Fosters & Sons now offers a ready to wear line of shoes and boots, but there is still something special about having a shoe custom designed. First you make an appointment, which usually lasts an hour. During that time you'll have your foot measured and analyzed, you'll discuss models, toe shapes and leathers as well as details such as thickness of sole. A first pair usually takes about five months to craft, but it's a shoe that will fit your foot like a glove, and most likely get you thinking about your next pair.