Image: EQT Amsterdam
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Made By Hand
Handmade shoes are a great investment for any style-conscious gent. Generally speaking, they’re built to last, full of satisfying little details and much more comfortable to wear over long periods.
The drawback, however, is that footwear meticulously crafted by hand costs more to produce – and price points often reflect this. Yet this changing.
With consumers demanding more for their money, a new breed of shoemaker has risen to the fore, specialising in affordable handmade styles which don’t compromise on quality. These niche brands don’t tend to spend as much on flashy marketing campaigns or prime retail locations, passing the savings on to customers, while some have even begun manufacturing their wares in countries like Portugal, which is offering comparable craftsmanship to Italy but for much lower prices.
So if you’re looking to invest, or simply want to upgrade your current footwear collection, here are some of our favourite designs on the market that won’t break the bank.
Buttero Tan Tanino Sneakers
Buttero has quickly gained a cult following thanks to its focus on minimal design and premium materials.
The brand’s shoes and trainers are both handmade, and its ‘Tanino’ model is already street style classic. The fact that they’re unlined means they can be worn barefoot, while the vegetable-tanned leather upper will age beautifully, developing its own unique patina and characteristics.
Leather laces and metal eyelets add that extra attention to detail which true sartorialists will appreciate.
Buttero Tan Leather Tanino Low Profile Sneakers, available at Opumo, priced £185.
n.d.c. Made By Hand Perforated Lace-Up Shoes
Shoe/sneaker hybrids have been out of the headlines for a while, but this pair by n.d.c. (which stands for ‘nom de code’ or ‘code name’) are a solid choice thanks to their pale, subtle colouring and understated appearance.
The brogue detailing takes them a notch above your average trainers, too, allowing them to be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.
n.d.c. Made By Hand is renowned for – unsurprisingly – its handmade shoes, utilising only the best leather from Tuscany, the UK and America. The majority of its range falls underneath the £200 mark, so we highly recommend you check out the brand’s selection of espadrilles, slip-ons and desert boots too.
n.d.c. Made By Hand Perforated Lace-Up Shoes, available at FarFetch, priced £196.07.
Dr. Martens 1461 Shoe
Unlike most ‘Docs’, these 1461 Gibson shoes are made in the company’s Northamptonshire factory – and doesn’t it show.
A high shine two-tone effect brings them to life, while the silhouette is slightly smarter than we’re used to seeing in the brand’s mainline collection. Not only that, they are Goodyear-welted and incorporate Dr. Martens’ signature air-cushioned sole, ensuring comfort and durability.
Dr. Martens fanatics swear that the label’s made in England shoes last longer and look better, and this pair proves it.
Dr. Martens 1461 Shoe, available in stores and online at drmartens.com, priced £175.
Grenson Suede Dylan Brogues
Brogues are utterly timeless, and a high quality, handmade pair will last you for many years to come.
Part of its G.Two collection, Grenson’s much-lauded Dylan model is available in eye-catching grey suede for SS15. They’re handmade in a Grenson-approved workshop in India using lasts and patterns developed here in the UK, then sent back to Britain for a final inspection (and polishing, where required) by the company’s expert shoemakers.
Overall, it gives you comparable quality to the brand’s Northamptonshire-made mainline but, as Grenson says, “for a price that doesn’t require a mortgage”.
Grenson Dylan Brogues in Grey Suede, available at grenson.co.uk, priced £195.
ETQ Amsterdam Alloy Runners
Designer takes on running sneakers are hugely popular, but prices can be eye-watering. Enter ETQ’s Alloy runners, with their clean lines and pleasingly soft newbuck leather, handmade in Portugal.
At just £135, they’re excellent value, and the label produces plenty of other contemporary takes on classic silhouettes, including mid tops and high tops that are well worth exploring.
ETQ Amsterdam Alloy Runners, available at Opumo, priced £135.