If the old saying that you can tell a lot about a man from his shoes is true, a pair of customised shoes is indicative of someone who loves to get himself indulged and pampered. At least that was my experience recently, when getting a pair of shoes made by Raymond, through their Made-to-Measure shoe service. Raymond is a brand we normally only associate with formal work wear, but walk into one of their large number of made-to-measure outlets and you will see a very different setup, and clientele.
Price is no barrier to how much you can splurge here on anything from shirts and trousers to belts, wallets and ties. I, however, had come to design my own shoes. They’re not fully bespoke but M2M, which means they won’t be cutting wood lasts to the shape of your feet just yet. Instead, I would be trying on various sizes and widths of a chosen model to see which fit best. They have quite an array of shoes, with multiple toe-box shapes. I didn’t like some of them — they looked too boxy or too pointed, and both shapes for me were outdated — but a chiselled one seemed to work well.
Next, we sat and worked out the colour pallete, and it is here that the customisation is really endless — I managed to get a pair of lace-ups with a mix of leathers. Other choices included lace colour, sole type (handmade leather, please), inner lining colour (red, of course!), and the option to include my initials on the pair.
This was followed by the sizing process. They have finished models for all their shoes, and once I had decided what I wanted, we tried on the model shoe to ascertain my size. The shoes could be adjusted for length, width and even height. After a good few minutes of tweaking and trying out permutations, we found a combination that worked.
All this took well over an hour, and I was rushing through quite a bit of it. Finally, all was documented and I was on my way out. A few weeks later, I picked them up and they well look the part. They not only look good but also wear good. The whole thing cost me under Rs 20,000, which is definitely value for money, and it beats buying a generic loafer from a designer brand any day.
It’s been a month now, and I have been using the shoes regularly and not once has there any problems with shoe bites and such. They came packed in satin bags with a small shoe-care kit included, which I think was a nice touch. If I could change one thing about them — or my next pair — it would be this: I’d get a shorter heel stack for when I walk in these, because I can’t help but feel that they exaggerate my heel strike a tad more than I’d like. Too technical a point, really, and maybe I’m splitting hairs here, but for what an honest take is worth, there you have it.
Though international luxury brands like Gucci and Tod’s have been offering this service for a while, Raymond is the only quality Indian brand whose M2M shoes I genuinely like. I have had shoes made by a few small-time designers who have been trying to carve out a niche for themselves in this market, but I have to admit that they lacked the cleanliness of finish of my Raymond pair.