Being an aspiring shoemaker/shoe designer myself, I find it critical to try and meet the people in the industry who are shoemakers or shoe designers themselves and do my best to absorb their knowledge or input of how exactly one gets into the industry and more importantly, how one successfully stays in the industry. Knowing that I am not the only aspiring individual and that it might not always be easy to get this type of information, I want to share with you what I am able to collect and hopefully through my provided information, be able to answer questions that you may have had yourself yet weren't able to find an answer for. So, for my first interview, I have Tony Gaziano, whom makes up one-half of the Bespoke/RTW shoemaking duo, Gaziano & Girling. Enjoy!
1. What made you want to get into shoemaking? --Did you have inspiration?
Actually shoemaking was not my first choice. I went to college to learn architecture, only to find that outside the actual drawing and design I didn't have the heart for it. Design was always the direction I was going towards, for a while I played around with clothes (not seriously/ as a hobby), but it wasn't visual enough for me. I wanted see in front of me what I had created and you can't do that with clothes like you can with shoes. Shoes have a very ornamental nature about them, something you can pick up and study, but also wear it out which is quite a rare thing. I spotted a pattern cutting/ design job at Cheaney, and that's where it pretty much started.
2. What is the hardest thing about being a bespoke shoemaker?
The hardest thing about being a shoemaker is the balance of organization, crafting and quality. Shoemaking is a real hard and physical job in many different areas, it can also be a very messy job because of the inks and crafting with a knife. This can make it very hard to keep the shoe perfect all the way through production, in fact you can make 90% of the shoe and in the last few operations, one slip of concentration and the shoe is a reject.
3. What is your favorite thing about being a bespoke shoemaker?
Creation is my favorite thing. In my perfect world I would create samples all day long. But the design can be broken down into areas, i.e. lastmaking, pattern cutting, sole making, polishing etc... I get great satisfaction from seeing all these areas complete as the shoe goes through these stages.
4. What other bespoke shoemakers do you admire?
Dimitris Gomez, John Lobb Paris, Pierre Corthay, Cleverley, Foster & Sons, to be honest I don't get to see much of what the other guys are producing these days because it's hard to get out of the workshops, and I don't spend much time on the web.
5. What is your least favorite thing about the shoe industry?
My least favorite thing about the shoe industry and many other industries for that matter, is companies living off their past reputation rather than the shoes (or products) that they are making now.
6. What is your favorite model out of all of the shoes that you make?
I can't pick a favorite model, there are so many I like, and my taste changes all the time, which is part of having a creative mind. It's impossible for me to choose.
7. What can we expect from the future of Gaziano & Girling? --Where do you want to be in 10 years?
To be honest I want G&G to remain exactly the same in terms of quality, just a little bigger and to expand into other leather goods. I really think that we are taking shoemaking to the extreme when it comes to quality with our new Deco range, in fact I would go as far as to say that this range is better quality than many bespoke shoes I have seen.
8. What can you tell me about the Deco range?
The Deco range will be released around the 3rd week of January with it's first appearance at Pitti Uomo.
It will start at £1250 ( inc tax) which will include lasted shoe trees and a handmade box. The Deco range are very sculptured looking shoes, and have been based on a lot of old samples I have seen that were produced a lifetime ago. The Deco range has more hand-finishing and attention to detail (compared to RTW). For the moment, the Deco range will only be available through our exhibitions as well as ordering over phone or through mail. This will change in a few months when we will have them on display in Savile Row and maybe some stock in shops.
9. What piece of advice can you offer to aspiring shoemakers?
To aspiring shoemakers I would say: Its a long hard road, so be patient :) Learn as much as you can from as many people as you can, learn your about your customer and cater for them rather than your own taste. Desire and business have to be finely balanced and at the end of the day, if you are good, people will come find your talents.
Thank you Tony!!!
Well, that concludes the interview and I hope that you have enjoyed it and that it may have answered some questions that you may have had yourself. I will try and produce an interview a month from someone in the shoe industry but don't hold me to it, because not everyone is as nice as Tony, which might lead to them not giving me the time of day.
-The Shoe Snob