Best Foot Forward
Getting bespoke shoes is coming back in vogue as people look for comfort andclass – and the chance to make a personal style statement
A long time ago, my uncle gave me a bit of life advice: “you can really gauge a person by the quality of their shoes –
always look there frst.”
And he has been right more times than you can
imagine. I have learnt that it doesn’t matter
what label is attached to a suit or dress, just
whether it complements your physique.
And jewellery and fashion accessories are mere
accents and will undoubtedly change over time
to something trendier.
But shoes – shoes are what people put a little
bit of themselves into. The design fits our
personality and the comfort suits our health.
These two pieces of personal preference are
what make getting a pair of bespoke shoes
made specifcally for me the only way I’ll buy
shoes ever again. Mine actually change the way
I walk and the way I move.
Taking the frst step
If you’re looking for a shoe made from the fnest
materials, then Amin Verani, owner of The
Italian Shoe Factory in Dubai (italianshoefactory.
com) offers a full service. For more than twenty
years, the small workshop has been a go-to
bespoke local shoe manufacturer.
You can fnd them in the Al Quoz Industrial Area.
Making an appointment is the easiest way to
ensure that you’ll be able to get the service you
need upon arrival. Make time for the frst visit,
it’s important to start on the right foot.
Every type of shoe imaginable was elegantly
perched on a wall display for my perusal
when I arrived. I chose a simple yet elegant cap-toe oxford, although there were also
Oxfords, Derbies, Monks, and even a large
selection of heels and boots for the ladies.
Once I had chosen a style, it was time to
consider the material and the color. What
immediately caught my eye was a lovely
dark-wine coloured burgundy. The supple
and soft leather sample was brought
from the backroom for my approval. With
almost no hesitation, I knew this was the
colour and leather that would make my
The frst step was now almost complete,
all that was left was to get the proper
measurements to make my ‘Last’ or
foot mold that my shoes would be made
This was accomplished by a short
meeting with the Master Last-Maker.
Measuring the circumference of multiple
places along my foot as well as the width
from toes to heal, he made sure that my
bespoke selection would fit like a glove,
would ﬂex to my muscle density of each
foot, and be more comfortable than any
other pair of shoes I’ve ever worn.
If the shoe fits
I was excited when I got the call ten
days later that the trial pair was
ready for inspection. A dedicated
artisan had prepared a mock-up
of my order. This ‘trial shoe’
is placed on the Last and left
until the leather hardens in
the same fashion as your
specifed pair. Once removed,
it is ready for the frst fitting.
During the frst fitting, you
are asked to try on the trial
pair to check the shape and
size of the shoe on your foot.
I was asked to walk around
a bit to see if it pinched or
felt loose anywhere…which it
certainly didn’t. The old saying
of ‘fits like a glove’ couldn’t have
been more accurate.
The Master Last Maker had done a superb
job and the shoes were a perfect match to
my foot, it was now time for fnal production.
All I had to do was wait.
My cap-toe Oxfords were complete a short
four weeks from the initial measuring. The
entire production takes an average of 50
man-hours and each of those meticulous
hours could be felt in the shoe’s perfect fit.
Once I slid them on my feet, they did in fact
fit like a glove if not better. The arch support
in the middle of my feet made each step
feel as if I were walking in a pair of trainers
rather than some fancy dress shoes.
Price wise all this TLC ain’t cheap of course –
you’re looking at around Dh3,000 to Dh4,000.
But the shoes are guaranteed for a minimum
of 15 years and some highly important care
instructions are imparted before you leave.
The most common problem is the sole and
heel being worn out, but I was told that the
team could easily replace it and have done so
from time to time since they opened.
“The bespoke shoe is better in this way
instead of those that are off the shelf, even if
they are of the highest quality. The reason is
because it’s stitched instead of glued to the
sole. Once I remove the stitches, I can make
it as good as new and you’ll never know the
difference.” said Amin’s son Moin, who has
been a part of the family business himself
since being able to tie his own laces.