How did the firm developed since the beginning of 20 century?
We have been very fortunate that our business has grown most years. Our product is very unique and very few people in the world can make shoes like George Cleverley, so when a client is looking for a British hand-made shoe they normally find us. Our business has actually grown during the world recession. We thank your loyal clients for support over the years.
Creative should really mean what an individual finds interesting. There are so many different options available to clients with styles and materials that it keeps the clients busy with ideas. I really enjoy when a client designs a style that looks unique and interesting. it’s important to have a sense of individuality.
Being that you are the son of the owner you have a natural born attraction to shoes or this attraction was developed in time?
I have always enjoyed shoes. It is the first thing I look at on both men & women. I think it tells you a lot about a person and their style. Over the years I have become more interesting in hand-made clothing. I grew up around shoes and have a large collection because they never wear out!!
What was the most unique shoe that you ever created? Do you have a model inspired by one that a personalities order over the years?
My favorite style is the “Churchill”. It is our classic house style. We made this particular style for Sir Winston Churchill and I think is more unique today than 50 years ago. I often look back at the styles we made for clients in the 50’s, 60’s & 70’s and think they look amazing. The styles were originally chosen by such elegant clients (Cary Grant, Fred Astaire e.t.c.). What is old has become new again…
How many stages are in the bespoke process? What is the difference between RTW and bespoke at Cleverley?
Our RTW shoes are all bench-made. They are based on our bespoke styles but made using machines & by hand. The leather used and patterns are still all hand selected / cut and still take several weeks to make. The calf used is top quality. Our bespoke shoes are made entirely by hand.
A bespoke shoe take over 90 hours of manual labor and takes approx 6-9 months to make. It involves approx 6 different people which all specialize in one particular part of the shoemaking process (lasting, clicking, making e.t.c.). Each part of the shoemaking process takes between 3-5 years to learn.
Where do you get the leathers from?
It varies as to what is the best at ant particular time. At George Cleverley, we only accept the finest quality. Presently , we are getting a lot of German & French calf. It is wonderful to work with.
Yes. We always repair old George Cleverley shoes. Some are over 50 years old. This is a great article in Esquire to read:
Please mention the most gifted craftsmen working for you. Do you have any rookies craftsmen?
We still have Mr. John Carnera working at Cleverley. He is over 70 years old and started when he was 15! He is a wonderful last maker. The best we have! We also have Mr. Teemu Leppanen, who has been with Cleverley for over 10 years. He is a clicker and last maker and is amazing. He is very detailed oriented. Everyone at Cleverley is like a family.
What’s you favourite model out of all of the shoes that Cleverley makes?
Do you have only Cleverley shoes or you have experienced other shoemakers?
I only wear Cleverley shoes. I have seen others but they are not George Cleverley 🙂
Who is your preferred tailor?
Anderson & Sheppard. I have many suits from them.
What are the common tricks that some producers use for cheating customers or to create the false impression that the shoe is not machine made?
What I find amazing is how many shoes in department stores have “hand-made” stamped on the soles but they are all machine made. I find this very misleading to clients.
There is a big future in bespoke footwear. We had more new customers in 2011 than we have ever had in our history. I think people are looking to buy top quality items that last many years rather than a brand that is popular for 1 year and the product does not last. While our shoes are expensive they are always the finest quality a person can buy and last for many year. I want Cleverley to stay the same as it always has: make wonderful shoes for amazing clients around the world and stay family owned and operated.
I know that over the years Cleverley people were lucky to meet wonderful gentlemen such as Sir Winston Churchill, Daniel Day Lewis or Tom Wolfe. Recently you did some wonderful shoes for Mr. Kenneth Branagh. What other personalities chose George Cleverley for their feet? Do you any special memories regarding one of them? How hard it is to work with strong characters?
Recently we have added George Clooney, Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, Vinnie Jones and many more. Most of our clients become friends and are very easy to work with. We have previously made shoes for David Beckham, Charlie Watts e.t.c. most of our customer just want good footwear.
It’s more about the product and not the personality which is nice. Kenneth Branagh is a gentleman. I have met him a few times and recently saw him again at the vanity fair Oscar Party in Los Angeles. He introduced me to his wife and was wearing my shoes that night. What makes George Cleverley special is that it is not run like a business but more like a exclusive men’s club. We become friends…
The closest is our London shop or online (www.gjcleverley.com). We have Romanian clients and I think the market is growing more each year for us.