Hi, I'm Kirby Allison, and we love helping the well-dressed take care of their wardrobes. The last time I was in London, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Mr. George Glasgow Sr., chairman of George Cleverley, and one of the most elegant and well dressed gentlemen I had the pleasure to know. Mr. Glasgow takes exceptional pride in taking care of his customers and has built George Cleverley into an iconic worldwide brand, well known for making some of the finest bespoke shoes in the world. If you haven't gotten a chance to see Part 1, click the link in the description of this video, otherwise I hope you enjoy watching Part 2 of this series on George Cleverley as much as we enjoyed filming it.
Hi, I'm Kirby Allison, founder of The Hanger Project. We're here today at GJ Cleverley with Mr. George Glasgow Sr., and Mr. Glasgow, thanks for having us.
Welcome. Thanks for coming in.
So we're up here on the third floor of the workshop right in front of the last room and I guess tell us a little bit about what we have here on your desk.
Well, I'm chairman of G. J. Cleverley, and just to explain to you how this operation works, you know, this is done exactly the same as it was 100 years ago. This is a customer standing on, standing up on both feet, which feet are never the same in size, you'll always get a discrepancy - one will be wider or longer than the other. Well we've come to the conclusion that it's actually a rarity to find a a pair of feet today. So from this measurement which is the contours of the foot, the arch of the foot on both feet, and then all the measurements across the foot, I mean the length of a foot. So from this, we make what we call a last, which is made by hand which can sometimes take someone two, three, four days to make. That last, now, has to conform to the measurements that we took here. So then after we are happy with that, then, we may count what we call the official order, which is like this. Every detail is put on the order to exactly what the customer wants. It's actually, it starts with the actually upper color of brown, whether it's dark brown and whiskey, this one is light tan, London tan, or whether the custom is going to go to suede or exotic leathers, in every different material. And then underneath is the lining of the shoe. Customer has the option to have a blue lining, a green lining, many many different respects of colours, you name it. And then underneath it's the style description which tells us all about the top part of the shoe. What style it is, how much design it's got on, so we can fill that in exactly what the customer wants. The line underneath tells us about the toe shape of the shoe, what does the customer want. In this case, this customer here, wants an Anthony Cleverley toe, but customers can have the suspicious square toe, they can have a pointed toe, they can have a rounded toe, really depends on what they want. And at the bottom here, it's either that the customer's TIW is trying well, that's the shoes, if it's a new customer, then we try the shoes on without soles on to see if we are happy or the customer is happy that the fit is OK. If it's an existing customer, we will probably make, cut, and close and finish because we know the last in the first place is right. Then on the back part of the thing, it's got the details of the bottom part of the shoe, which consists of, you know the weight the customer wants on the sole, what sort of stitching does he require, is it close stitching, full stitching. What about the waist of the shoe? What does he want there? Whether it's a square waist, a fiddle waist, a bevel waist, and then it goes to the heels, what kind of heels does the customer want? Is in an inch? Which is unusual to have heels that are lower than an inch, you've got an inch, or an inch and an eight, inch and a quarter. Sometimes we go might go into an inch and 3/8. And then whether the customer requires any tips on the heels, plates. And then this particular customer here wants his initials put on the waist of the shoe. His own initials. This ticket here has been given a number in this cutting book. So it's given a number, and as you can see, they all run in sequence. So then once we've got the number, then this gets entered into here. So we always got a complete record of what soles, what uppers, what style that we've done for the customer go in for years and years. My books are up here and the patents downstairs certainly go back about 30 or 40 years of all details of what the customer's had. So they, the customer will expect us to, if he orders a pair of shoes, they will, whether it's black or brown, he will just point to the style, but he'll expect us to know what weight of sole he wants, what height of heel he wants, what his waists are like, does he have tips? All those sort of things, he would expect us to know, so that's why it's impossible to have too much detail about a bespoke customer. That's real. Because if you miss one nail, then he will tell you about it.
So whenever a customer places an order for a new pair of shoes, do you always go back to the previous pair you made.
100 percent. The last pair, the pair before, we'll probably go back to the last half a dozen.
Oh yes, just to make sure that something last time might be missed it, might be, just to recheck ourselves all the time, because the shoes are very expensive. So before they go down with the number to be cut, that, in our eyes, has got to be 100 percent correct.
And are you notating the last also? I mean is it common for a customer to have more than one last or do they just have one last that lives with them?
No I mean the chances are some customers have at least two lasts that will vary from lace shoes to slip on shoes. I mean, sometimes, you know, country shoes. Really depends. So if we start with a customer that orders a pair of lace shoes, then we make him a last according to that. If he changes, then after one or two lace shoes he goes to slip-on shoe, then we make another last, because casual shoes are fitted a little bit closer. Because they tend to give a bit more. So we have to make an allowance for that in the second last we make. And then if the customer is maybe a very country guy that likes to wear heavier shoes in the country and maybe with two or three socks, then we have to make another last that will allow for the heavier hose that's put on the shoe.
Yeah I guess that's something that I've never really thought about before, which is your socks make such an important determination as to how the shoes fit.
So in the country, you're wearing hunting socks that are thicker. And if you try to wear the same pair of dress shoes with thick socks, it wouldn't fit.
No, that's right! I mean, sometimes, I don't know how far I can, say, a 1/32 inch, there's a difference between comfort and discomfort. Is a very marginal thing.
So talk us a little bit about a last and how does a last evolve with the customer. I mean talk to us a little bit about this particular last, how has that changed and kind of evolved?
Well, I mean, this last, maybe particularly this last, this last particularly, I would probably say it's about 60. This belonged to Mr. Cleverley. It's about 60 or 70 years.
So that was his personal last?
No, that was a customer's last, which, we do follow still today. And as you can see, people's feet do change. That's real. I've seen it over the 50 years I've been at it. You gained weight on your body, your poor feet get a bit wider, and they don't need to do it that much and your foot spreads a bit and then the arch which is underneath here, tends to drop after a certain age, which mine has dropping like that, and then when the arch drops, you foot gets a little bit wider. So this one in particular, as you can see here, this last now which would be impossible to replicate, you can see what time's done with this last. They've added bits. We've altered the last to accommodate his changing foot over the years. On the instep here, he seems to have developed a little bit of an instep bone here. The toes have got a little bit on the hammered side. On the left side, it's a little bit more so on the right. So these are things that we have to take into consideration, because people's feet do change, there is no question about that.
If you were to take measurements today of that same customer, could you arrive at that last, or?
Well, you say that, Kirby, but we have tried. That is very, very difficult, that's why we're reluctant, the foundation of the last has always be right so that's why we're reluctant to change it because these little bits and knobs here in that, the height of this, it's so difficult to ever reproduce that exactly to that.