After finally finding the right tailor, choosing swatches and getting measured, some weeks have gone by and your suit has finally arrived. You’ve matched up shirts, ties, pocket squares but something is missing….. Shoes ! It’s the final piece to complete the look you’ve gone through the trouble, and lets face it no matter how nice your clothing looks on you without the right pair of shoes , it can through everything completely off. So you’ve tried going to every shoe store , and you can’t find anything that jumps out at you, enter Philly based Doc C Custom Clothiers .
A custom footwear firm that is looking to make it’s footprint in Baltimore, possibly at a fine men’s clothing store or “design studio” near you. Despite being based in Philadelphia, you are still able to place orders on-line at Doc C Custom Clothier.
We caught up with owner and creator of Doc C Custom Clothier , Darrell Cleveland to get a brief tutorial and a peek into the world of Bespoke and MTO (Made To Order) shoes.
DC King: How long have you had this passion for men’s footwear ?
DC: I have had a passion for quality men’s footwear for several years; at least 15 years now. I purchased my first pair of custom made-to-order footwear five years ago and have not looked back. I plan to purchase my first pair of true bespoke shoes this year in preparation for offering true bespoke services as well.
DC King: What is the inspiration behind your shoe line ?
DC: I was inspired to begin my shoe line when I decided to begin my custom clothing business. Many custom clothiers do not offer handmade custom footwear and I decided I wanted to differentiate myself by also giving customers the option to purchase made-to-order custom footwear as well. I offer custom footwear at reasonable prices and customers can choose from many styles and options. However, some customers do not want to wait 6-8 weeks for custom footwear so I decided to create my ready-to-wear line; Conrad by Doc C. These footwear are also hand constructed but customers cannot modify the styles.
DC King: Explain Bespoke vs MTO (made to order) Custom shoes ?
DC: Like suits, custom made footwear has two different processes, made-to-order and true bespoke. At Doc C Custom Clothier I offer made-to-order footwear footwear that entails tracing the foot and measuring the foot if four places. Customers can then select the color(s), the style of shoe they want and the details. Possibilities are endless and customers can have their shoe constructed with the many sample details in the store. For example, if a customer likes a style but wants details from another style such as punch hole design, 2-tone colors, 2-tone skin (leather and suede), all leather sole or slip guard and height of heal just to name a few. Made-to-order custom shoes are constructed on an existing shoe last and can be constructed with goodyear welted construction or blake stitching. Made-to-order footwear generally take 6-8 weeks. My made-to-order footwear comes standard with cedar shoe trees to retain the shape of the shoe while absorbing moisture and rear heel plates to protect the heel. Doc C Custom Clothier Made-to-Order footwear begins at $550.
Bespoke shoes on the other hand have many more steps. More detailed measurements are taken then the made-to-order process. Meticulous notes are taken for irregular toes, bunions, flat feet, etc. The foot is also traced but with more notes and details. From these measurements and drawing a wooden shoe lasts is hand-carved; essentially the customers foot is re-created. Shoe lasts take anywhere from 2-4 weeks to produce which is why the bespoke process takes – 8-12 weeks longer then the made-to-order process. Once shoe lasts are constructed the customer can continue to get shoes constructed with the same shoe last reducing the time to construct the footwear. Essentially the shoe lasts is used to create a pattern that is used to cut the leather that is sewed while wet, molded and dried to ensure the perfect fit. All bespoke footwear is made with goodyear welted construction. Bespoke footwear can begin at $3500 and go up to as much as six figures for exotic skins.
DC King: What sets you apart from other custom shoemaker ‘s ?
I don’t think I set myself apart from other shoemakers. I do think I set myself apart from other haberdashery’s by offering custom footwear to customers as well as full handmade, full canvas suits. I chose not to offer half-canvas and fused suits. My suits and footwear are very reasonably priced for the quality. I also think that sets me apart is I am a one-stop shop. I also offer luxury Swill time pieces by Edouard Lauzières, and accessories. I also offer tuxedo rental as well.
DC King: Describe your brand in three words ?
Exceptional, Quality, Service
DC King: Where can one find your shoes ?
DC: My shoes can be found at 7150 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19150. It is my hope that you will see my shoes in other fine men’s shoe and clothing stores around the country next year. I also offer private label service so my shoes may be in a shoe store in your area with the retailers logo.
DC King: What’s on the horizon in the near future for your brand ?
DC: “… I am hoping to place my footwear in other fine men’s clothiers and footwear retailers around the country. This will be primarily my ready-to-wear footwear and my bench made brand where custom made-to-order styles can be purchased by retailers in bulk according to the specific details they want, my brand or their own private label.
DC King -ALS
You’ve done it! You have finally taken the plunge. Convincing your wife to be’s old man you will take great care of his daughter coupled with the gut wrenching task of asking her to marry you not knowing what the outcome will be…. Yeah that was the easy part. You set the date, and the real fun begins.
The planning… cake tastings , finding the church, planning the honeymoon, a lot of investment for the day that you and she both will remember for the rest of your lives. Let’s face it, the bride is the star of the show. She’s been planning this day and how she will look on this day ever since she’d been introduced to Barbie & Ken. All eyes will fixate on her as she gracefully makes her way towards you on the altar.
Then there you are, profusely sweating your life away in some ill-fitted,baggy mess of a tux that will be returned after the wedding. You just threw away over $200 just to look like ….well to put it lightly a poor clownish schmuck. Forever immortalized in a digital cloud of online wedding photographs, that probably cost you more than the tuxedo rental itself. You sir, will be poked fun of for generations to come. Do you really want to be this guy ?
Weddings can be extremely overwhelming both mentally and financially. That is precisely why planning is key. So if you are planning out anywhere from a six months to a year, maybe two, put that same thoughtfulness into how you (the co-star) will look on her (the star) day. Get yourself a custom-made tux or better yet if you’re doing a more modern wedding a custom-made suit. This will not be the last formal event you will attend, nor the last time you dress up. The turnaround on a custom suit or tux can take about 6 weeks. More than enough time to go through a first and second fitting and still have it in time for your wedding.
For the same or lesser amount that she is spending on her dress that she will only wear ONCE, you can invest in a suit or a tuxedo that you will get more use out of in the long run. A decent two-piece custom suit or a tux will cost you a little over $800 at the least, depending on your choice of fabrics or details. That’s four tuxedo rentals!! It fits shoe and… NO CRAPPY SHOES!! You get to have it and use it for the rest of your life or until it falls out of fashion. Which won’t happen as long as you stay in the realm of the classic with your detailing. She’s spending probably twice that on a dress that is going to be a one and done. She may never wear that dress again except for the renewing of your vows, but every time you wear your suit or put on your tux for those formal occasions, you will remind her of the happiest day of her life. Most importantly you will remind her of why she chose you, because you were smart with your money ! Here are a few custom suiting looks we previewed during the Cinderella Event , A Fairy Tale Wedding at Maryvale Castle for Brides Against Breast Cancer . Photographs are courtesy of Borrowed Blue Photography . For more information go to christopherschafer.com or contact me directly at email@example.com .
DC King ALS
Ok maybe it hasn’t quite gotten to that point here just yet in Baltimore….but rest assured it’s on it’s way. Not to knock summer but being from Texas , I have had my fair share of heat.. Been there done that, wrote a song about it and released about four or five remixes ( check out the Frank Ocean – David Guetta mash-up on I-tunes). I joke , but you know you’d buy. . Yeah the months of summer are fun filled with cookouts ,BBQ’s and crab feasts and women in short shorts and sundresses…sigh it truly was a great summer .. but I still look to the fall with the same anticipation as Ralphie in A Christmas Story awaiting his Red Rider BB Gun.
Why ? You might ask… Well one of the main reasons would definitely be, I get to dress up, and get to do so with one of my favorite fabrics TWEED . When it’s chilly on these Mount Vernon Streets nothing like glass of Bushmills and tweed sport coat to break through the crisp fall air for those walks past The Baltimore Washington Monument up N.Charles St or around The Inner Harbor or Harbor East.
A Brief History : The term tweed was originally called tweel, the Scottish term for twill. History has it that the current name came about due to a London merchant having to read some very illegible handwriting. The merchant who received an order from a firm in Hawick asking for Tweel , misinterpreted the handwriting, thinking it to be a trademark taken from the river Tweed ,that flows through the Scottish Borders textile area, and centuries later we are still calling it tweed. The fabric has traditionally been used for upper class country clothing like shooting jackets during the Edwardian age in England, and becoming popular in the early 60’s among Ivy League preppies. Tweed has lately been enjoying a resurgence in popularity as of late among Trads and Hipsters alike.
The tweed sport coat is one of the most versatile staple of a Fall/ Winter wardrobe. Dress it up with a pair flannel wool trousers, a crisp white shirt and a pair of Chelsea boots or oxfords. Or go weekend casual in your favorite sweater or henley, or business casual in a chambray oxford shirt and a pair of chinos or corduroys and a pair of suede brogues. You can find decent affordable jackets right on E-Bay , or the $500 and up range from brands such as Thom Browne , Ralph Lauren and The Harris Tweed collaborations with J Crew . In my humble opinion if you are willing to spend in the upwards of $500 and up “off the rack ” sports jacket , why not go custom fit ? Not only will it give you great fit , but it also gives you greater choice than what most designers will offer you with their seasonal lines. A wider variety of fabric choices, as well as being able to select those details that will set you apart from the rest of the flock. Most high-end department stores such as Barney’s or Neiman Marcus offer made to measure at reasonable price.
(Photo via JCrew)
Now if you don’t have one those in your area or you can find better ways to spend your time other than sitting than in traffic or don’t feel like making the trip, there then make a trip to google to research your local custom clothier, and if you’re in Baltimore stop by and see me at Christopher Schafer Clothier on 1400 Aliceanna St. Send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment and we can get you suited up and ready before the first frost hits. See you soon .
D.C. King – ALS
Whenever there’s an event you have to attend where dressy attire is required, or a job interview, are you still dusting off those big clunky square toes that Kenneth Cole made popular over a millennium ago ? Commonly referred to as pavement pounders in most sartorial circles ( yeah we’re silently judging you ) . Or those or those narrow dagger pointed shoes sharp enough to puncture a hole in Iron Man’s armor suit ? Time to rid your closets and shoe racks of such so-called “trendy” abominations and upgrade your footwear. Here are a few basic staples every man should have in his wardrobe.
Plain or Cap-Toe Oxford Lace Up: Replace your Air Genies with a pair of nice black or brown oxford lace ups, great on any occasion , brown oxfords can be paired with either a charcoal gray , navy suit. Great with a summer weight chino khaki suit, and dark denim. Black oxfords are great as well with a charcoal grey or black suit or tux. When shined properly and paired with a dark jacket or denim , and a crisp shirt it will add an elegant air to your appearance. The prices of oxford may vary from $100-$500 depending on where you shop, but there are always great finds on Amazon or E-bay.
( image courtesy of brunomagli.com)
(image courtesy of Leffort.com)
(image courtesy of nordicfit.tumblr.com)
Wingtips or Brogue: A little bit of “Sartorial History” ,brogues or wing-tips have their roots in Scotland and Ireland . The term brogue, describes the decorative perforated cap toe of the shoe, designed that way so that when the wearer crossed over wet terrain , it would allow the water to drain from the shoe. Brogues usually come in two styles which are the cap-toe or full brogue (wing -tips) name given for the wing-like extension coming from the cap of the shoe. These are typically made from leather or suede, and now thanks to shoemakers from Cole Haan to Mark Mcnairy come in a wide assortment of colors in suede from brown to navy and red. Start out with the basics when building your wardrobe brown, cordovan or oxblood , and black. Pair these with your suit and add a dash of daring to your work uniform, or grab a rubber soled suede pair to class up your denim or chinos
(images courtesy of colehaan.com)
(Image via trashness.com)
Loafers and Driving Moccasins : Loafers and driving mocs . Unless you’ve come from another planet you should be familiar with the classic American staple, penny loafers have been around since the early 1950’s , popular amongst Ivy League, and are a preppy staple, pair w/ cuffed jeans and a crisp shirt, a navy blue blazer and chinos or any sports jacket and trouser combo. The Car Shoe or driving moccasin came about during the 1960’s as a product of the Car Shoe SA Company in Italy, but also made popular by Tod’s . These shoes have perorated rubber balled sole, or rubber square tracked sole meant to simulate the grip on gas and break pedals in Italian Sports Cars. These are perfect for keeping a neat and polished appearance on a Casual Friday. Driving shoes look great when paired w/ a sports jacket and chinos or tailored linen trousers or even a dressy pair of shorts. If worn with jeans be sure to they’re tailored, don’t want you stepping on the leg of your jeans .
(images via http://www.carshoe.com/it/en , louivuitton.com & tommyton for gq.com)
These are the basic shoes that everyman should start with, start off with the foundation colors of brown, black, and tan you will have more room to play around with your wardrobe, and be able to add more colorful pieces over time. This ends this course in Shoes 101 , hope you find this helpful, advanced courses are soon to come.
D C King
A Life Suited