Who is Tony Gaziano and who is Dean Girling? And why working together?
Tony Gaziano is a last maker and designer that has previously worked for Edward Green, George Cleverley and subcontracted work for many designer labels. Dean Girling is a Shoe maker, who worked for John Lobb, Cleverley, Foster and Son and comes from a shoemaking family.
We met each other at Cleverley and found they had a similar desire for the creation of shoes, Dean then worked as an out worker craftsman for me through Cleverley and Edward Green, until we have decided one day that we wanted the freedom to realize our own creations.
Please tell my readers about how your environment that you lived in influenced your passion for shoes.
We both grew up with shoes all around. I grew up in the shoemaking hub of England (Northampton) where many of the best factories in the world are positioned. Dean grew up watching his father make bespoke slippers, in Norwich, which was also a shoe manufacturing center many years ago.
What is Gaziano & Girling brand philosophy?
Gaziano&Girling philosophy is quite simple, classic designs with a twist, made to the highest quality in both bespoke and ready made shoes.
How do you work as a team? You have different responsibilities?
The whole factory works as a team, we are blessed with the most fantastically responsible and skilled craftsmen, everybody really takes great care to do there job 110%, to the point where I think they actually enjoy being at work rather than home.
How many craftsmen work at Gaziano & Girling?
Gaziano&Girling have 15 people working full time in the factory and 3 out workers that work from home.
How hard is to be creative in this rather conservative industry?
Its quite simple really, lots of designers fall into the trap of thinking that they need to come up with something original, which normally results in a fine piece of design but probably to outrageous for most people to wear. So we simply concentrate on doing things that have been around forever but simply doing it much better, people can view this as new designs, but its simply sharpening the eye.
What is your favorite model?
I have too many, my wife is going crazy because my shoe collection grows so fast i have no room for her shoes. And my taste changes all the time, I think I have an attention deficit, which means I have to create new things quite often or I get bored.
Tel me about the final Quality Control Procedures that allow you to sell only perfect shoes.
Well we do make mistakes, but they never see the retail market, we have a guy who has x-ray eyes, he drives me crazy pointing out things that even I can’t see, so we are safe in this regard.
Where do you take the leathers from?
The wet blues (raw skins) mostly come from the French/Swiss Alps, and are then sent to France, Italy and Germany for finishing, we by from tanneries in all three countries. But we only get our soles and heel leather from a company called Baker, which is a tannery in Devon, England, this tannery has been making leather for over 2000 years.
Please tell me something about the options at Gaziano&Girling: do you make fully bespoke and if yes at what price?
Yes we do make full bespoke, we have a team of 4 craftsmen that specialize in this area. The price starts at £3000, which includes hand carved shoe trees.
For a MTO at witch part of the process you use machines?
That’s hard to explain, the machines we use were made around 1910-1920, they are all Victorian style of engineering, they are a totally individual skill set, between hand shoemaking and modern day manufacturing, the use of these machines is almost as skillful as fully hand making and only a handful of people are able to do this, but I would say at least 70% of the MTO and ready made shoes are made using these machines.
What is the difference between a Bespoke and a MTO Gaziano&Girling?
Bespoke is fully hand made with no machinery at all. Made to order and ready made are the 70%-30% ratio explained above.
You do the last in-house?
We make all the bespoke last in house, the last for factory production shoes are made by a last manufacturer, but the master model is made by me.
Where did the inspiration for Deco range come from?
The Deco range has been a personal dream of mine for around 15 years now, it came from a love of Art Deco, but the designs really came from my imagination.
What future plans do you have in term of new ranges/new styles?
New ranges will include slippers and maybe lightweight summer shoes, but when I don’t know, we have to make sure these things are perfect and time is not on our side at the moment
And now about the figures: tell me in what countries are your shoes available for sale and how many shoes do you make in one year.
We make around 100 pairs of bespoke in a year and around 2500 pairs of factory made shoes. Our shoes are available in cities in England, France, Germany, Sweden, South Africa, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, and also USA.
A lot of shoemakers complain about a decrease of clients caused by the economic crises. You build your business on affordable quality shoes instead of fully bespoke. How do you see the future of the industry?
To be honest I think with the ever increasing cheap production coming out of Asia, it only enhances the quality we make in our factory. We are such a small niche market the demand always outweighs the production. With bespoke I can understand a decrease of clients, its long and laborious and only appeals only to a certain kind of client like Gentlemen with problem feet and shoe obsessive. We have probably taken custom from our bespoke to factory made shoe because of the high standards in our factory made shoes. To be honest our factory made shoes are so good and have so many handmade features they look better than most bespoke from our competitors.
And now something about the Gentleman Tony Gaziano: Preferred tailor, town and suit color?
I like corresponding textile and colors, checked sports jackets with plain trouser etc., it really allows me to work with all the colors we make our shoes in, and shows customers how they can combine our shoes with what they wear, I like suits but they can be very limiting. Preferred tailor is Chittlebourough&Morgan, but for casual I like Ring Jacket (Japanese) they are very light and comfortable but look so stylish.