The first step was getting my feet measured. The lady who measured my foot took two measurements around my right foot and drew an outline of both feet in her notebook. The older gentleman with glasses promised a very quick three day turnaround, perhaps because I requested a derby style that had been made for another customer. The older gentleman spoke English and the lady who measured my feet also spoke a bit of English. I showed her a photo of the design on my iPod touch and she pulled out a JM Weston shoe catalogue to find its pictorial equivalent. As I looked through their leather selection, the following colors struck my eye: 43 dark brown (the one I ordered), 74 chestnut, 78 maple, 35 maple (slightly darker than 78), 17 acorn, 101 deep brown and 108 olive/dark brown.
I ordered on a Saturday and picked up the shoes the following Monday afternoon and was pleasantly surprised by the results. I was most curious about how the overall shape would turn out. It reminded me a bit of the Edward Green soft square 888 last (see below right). For a shoe (and last) that was made in literally days, it was a remarkably well-fitting shoe. Given the time constraint, I suspect my last was probably a modified version of a preformed last (using the addition method). Nonetheless, the fit is superior to any RTW shoe I've tried out of the box. And the price? 65 USD.
The leathers are not nearly the level of quality you'll find at British, French, Italian, Austrian and other European shoemakers and the lastmaking may not be quite as refined. But if current results are any indication of future potential, don't be too surprised to find within the next 10 years a decently constructed pair of shoes with the label "Edward Tran" or "John Tran" in a store near you.
- Styleforum thread on TQL's MTM Chelsea boots
- Styleforum thread on Hong Kong shoemaker Zee's Leatherware
- NY Times article on Kow How and Mayer Shoes in Hong Kong