The shoes maketh the man, so they say. Yet contrary to the popular proverb, many tend to focus on building their wardrobe from the top down. And even when one decides to dress from the bottom up, the catch-22 doesn’t end there. The quest for well-made, perfect-fitting leather shoes — or maybe for finding out what all that truly means — can be a painstaking struggle in and of itself.

So who better than Tony Gaziano — co-founder and creative director of Gaziano & Girling, one of London’s finest made-to-order and bespoke shoemakers — to break it down for us?

tony gaziano
Tony Gaziano at work in Gaziano & Girling’s studio.

When G&G launched in 2006, Gaziano and business partner Dean Girling aimed to slash the normal waiting time of 10 months for a bespoke order to just two to three months, while still keeping their feet firmly planted on the grounds of old-world artisanship. The secret to their success, though, is very much underpinned by a deft versatility to modern men’s needs. “The rules have changed over the years,” Gaziano says. “And we try not to appeal to one certain idea of a customer, we try to appeal to everybody’s taste.”

G&G is the first shoe shop to open within the world-class cluster of tailors on Savile Row. Under their belt are partnerships with Ermenegildo Zegna Couture and Ralph Lauren. Actors Henry Cavill and Jason Momoa, even French actress Léa Seydoux, are among those who have put their trust for “proper” custom-made footwear into the hands of G&G craftsmen.

Backed by years of expertise in the cobbler trade, below is Gaziano’s beginner’s guide to leather shoes, from why one should consider bespoke to the due dilligence of shoe care.

Gaziano & Girling’s ready-to-wear and made-to-order selections are available via Kevin Seah, its sole stockist in Southeast Asia.

(Main and featured images: Gaziano & Girling)