Shoes: Made to measure Vs. Ready to wear
There is something wonderfully satisfying about ordering something online then receiving it in the next day or two. I’m an Amazon Prime member, and believe or not, some of my shoe making supplies are bought on amazon.
I love that I can procrastinate on buying the right tie for an event. Love that I can expect a package at my front door in virtually no time at all. It’s an amazing, efficient machine, which serves a great purpose in a country where most people are overworked and need to shop quickly, have the items delivered, and delivered on time.
It certainly carries its advantages, no doubt.
So why don’t I turn it into one?
For me, it doesn’t make sense for Standard Handmade, not yet. There is much I feel we’d (You and I), lose about the company. For one, the company would be less about YOU, my customer, and more about my numbers. You see, when you order a pair of shoes from me, they are yours from start to finish. They are meant for you, and you only. They don’t exist in the world. Ready to wear shoes are meant for anyone who can fit into the shoes and buy them the fastest. I’d have to buy a few hundred at a time and then hustle to sell them. It wouldn’t be about what you want, but rather what I can persuade you to buy. So I feel that my business will be less about you, my customer, and more about me – and THAT is never a good thing.
I’d also have to outsource the production, or take out a million dollar loan (somehow) to build out a factory here. While outsourcing is a common practice, I feel it’s not what Standard Handmade is about. Standard Handmade is about integrity and honesty and craftsmanship. For me, we lose some credibility if we outsource. Here, we are not merely designers. We are makers. For me design is not enough. What credibility is there in designing a house if you don’t know how to swing a hammer? I love designing AND making shoes.
I think that today’s buyers (a niche group of you, to be sure) like to have a tailored fit as well as some options to choose from before buying. Luckily, it’s not hard, it’s just not conducive to ready to wear shoes. A tailored fit allows for more comfort, more stylistic appeal, and a longer lasting shoe. Unlike a suit that can be tailored after you buy it, shoes cannot work that way. I stitch taken out of leather leaves a hole, whereas fabric doesn’t show the slightest hint there was ever a seam.
Ready to wear shoes don’t take into account YOUR shoes size, rather you are forced to conform to the size of the shoes available. The problem is your feet were not made by a cookie cutter. Your unique feet cannot, and will not, conform to the few sizes a factory can offer.
Most commonly, I have clients with wide toes and normal heels. At the store, they have to buy the wide, or a size larger to fit their wide toes. The problem with that is, the heel becomes loose – so the shoes still don’t fit. What I do is alter the last (shoe form) to fit the wider part of the foot while keeping the heel the same. This way the shoe fits the foot. You’d be surprised how many people this helps!
If you don’t want a tailored fit, no problem, you can still have handmade shoes that are beautiful, made well, and feel great. I offer standard sizes on all footwear. Simply choose your shoe size and hit order. They fit much like a boot, so a little on the roomy side.
If we ever develop a ready to wear line, we will work hard to maintain our integrity. Perhaps I will build a factory? The first if it’s kind in the south, we will train craftsman rather than employ line workers.