Here’s how Berluti creates its extraordinary footwear
Bespoke shoes from the luxury footwear require an astonishing 250 production steps…
In the language of menswear, few words generate as much awe and excitement as ‘bespoke’. Having something made to your exact requirements and measurements is a special experience and, when it comes to bespoke shoes, few workshops can match the expertise and heritage of Berluti. Founded in Paris in 1895 as a shoemaker, the respected brand has an army of gifted artisans ready to employ their skills and make a unique pair of shoes that require a production process of 250 stages. Here’s how they do it.
Firstly, Berluti’s shoemakers meet with the client to discuss what is required. At this early stage, drawings of potential shoes are presented to generate ideas and spark conversation. Berluti’s philosophy states that the shoemaking process needs four hands: both the shoemaker’s and the client’s. The foot is meticulously measured in 12 places to determine the shape of the all-important wooden last around which the shoe will be constructed. But it’s not just the size of the foot that is analysed; the shoemaker will also assess where the client’s body weight is distributed as well as the symmetry of the foot to ensure maximum comfort when the shoe is worn.
What type of leather is to be used is where the client can push the boundaries of creativity and exclusivity. Berluti insist on responsible sourcing of their leathers such as ostrich, alligator, shark, lizard and sharkskin and adhere to strict rules that ensure the preservation of the animal. Berluti have long-standing relationships with tanneries that mean they get first choice on premium materials.
The last is the piece of wood that is shaped by Berluti’s expert craftspeople to represent the foot of the client. A dense piece of hornbeam is shaped with skill and strength by the last-maker using sandpaper, a rasp and a roughing tool that has been used by shoemakers for generations. With the arrival of the patternmaker, the client is able to have some fun and customise their shoes. Colours of the sole and lining can be chosen, as can the pattern of the stitching.
Now comes the most time-consuming part of the shoemaking process, which can take around three months to complete in total.
A ‘wall’ is created in the sole to hand stitch the welt, which will be used to combine the upper and sole. Linen thread, which is plaited and glued at each end, is guided with two boar-hair bristles as needles. Finally, layers of leather are stacked to form the heel.
Black and brown are, unsurprisingly, the most commonly requested colours for the bespoke department. However, Berluti’s reputation for flamboyant and avant garde shoes means they often receive requests from clients for shoes with a little more flair. The artful handpainting done by colourists means no pair of Berluti shoes are ever identical. Effects such as smokiness and transparency can also be achieved in the workshop for a dazzling painted finish.
A series of delicate, finishing touches are made before the shoe is glazed to seal in the colour. Super soft cashmere bags carrying a piece of leather that matches the shoe inside carefully envelope the finished article. Filled with bespoke shoe trees, the shoes are presented in a wooden box wrapped in leather that echoes the shoes’ patina. The inscription on the leather of the cashmere shoe bag reads ‘Berluti, Atelier Sur-Mesure, Paris’ – the true sign of style and extraordinary luxury.
Explore the Berluti range at Level Shoes in The Dubai Mall. For more information, visit levelshoes.com