Foster & Son Bespoke Captoe Oxford Review
Just a quick article this week, and another one for the list of "reasons buying someone else's bespoke shoes is more miss than hit". These Foster & Son shoes were purchased off eBay for a very reasonable price - but even after a thorough cleaning and polish, they can only charitably be described as "well-worn" or "full of character" or "sporting a distinctive patina."
Old, basically, is what I'm saying. They look old.
Ultimately they had to be sold on as the fit just wasn't there (this does tend to be the case with second-hand bespoke - I've only held on to one pair over the years). On paper by outsole measurement, they should have been a good gamble, but outsole measurements are notoriously inaccurate in gauging fit. Specifically, these were super long in the toe, but fine everywhere else.
The toes are rather square-shaped - a bit too square for my tastes. It's always interested me that the received iGent wisdom is to avoid square-toed shoes on the whole, but I've seen aggressively square-shaped models from all of the most esteemed London bespoke makers (guess this just depends on the customer's preference).
Side view shows the wrinkling to the leather - whether through age or just the original qualities of the leather, it is luxuriously soft on the feet. The toe profile, though obviously squared from above, is actually pretty attractive chiseled down from the side.
The Foster & Son logo on the footbed - see this article on distinguishing bespoke makers and picking out their RTW lines here. On the whole, a decently legible logo is always a good sign (though don't assume it has anything to do with wear - they could have just been wearing removable insoles over it).
Very neat sole finish, and illustrative of how just how understated the sole work from these classic bespoke makers is compared to modern high-end makers. Nary a fiddleback waist or bevel in sight. Indeed by modern tastes, many would probably consider them quite basic and rustic looking. The metal heel-taps made them pleasantly noisy to walk in, which is fun.
Also a clear example of just how wildly asymmetrical a bespoke last will tend to be, and how squared off those toes are.
Mmm, just bask in that lovely patina. In this instance, you can see the years of accumulation of polish around the edges of the brogue holes and the cuts and nicks to the toes. You can get a feeling of the depth of colour that forms over the years on a good pair of shoes, although your mileage will vary on whether the shoes look "full of character" or just "old".
Note also the perforated hole punching along the edge of the tongue section - a rare feature in RTW shoes, but a nice detail that distinguishes higher-end pairs.
So, an interesting pair overall, but I'm increasingly a believer that if you need insoles, pads and other accoutrements to get an acceptable fit, you may as well sell them on and get a pair that fits more easily.