You are very much involved in Maftei trunk -shows so you had the opportunity to meet face-to-face with a lot of male clients. From your point of view is it easier to work with women rather then men?
To use a cliché… Men will often go very pragmatic about their choices. Plan ahead. Order and wait. And feel great about their choices.Women don’t like to wait. If they like the shoes, they want them right away. They love that impulse.
Once they find out they need to get measured first and WAIT, they will question their decision: What will my partner say? What will my girl friends think? Do I really deserve this luxury? I don’t think any man would ever raise these questions.
Who can afford bespoke shoes?
Any women living in this part of the world who has a decent income and sees the value in wearing the best on their feet.
Do women think the shoes are worth it?
Many women will be pay the salary of a month for a fashion bag, a jacket or a great ring with a certain label. At the same time they might find bespoke shoes as too expensive. It’s a question on how you define luxury. Expensive doesn’t always mean quality. A brand that makes clothes, bags, sunglasses and shoes at the same time can’t get them all right. One doesn’t become a shoemaker over night.
You come from a family that is deeply involved in bespoke shoemaking. What has your family taught you?
From my mother I’ve learned that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing it well. From my father I’ve got the drive to do things. It’s important to start before you are 100% ready. You’ll never be, anyway. Other than that, both Lucia and Alexandru are extremely generous people. I have never met anyone in my entire life more generous towards family, workers, clients, neighbors or complete strangers. They both are genuine whole-hearted people.
What inspires you?
I find it inspiring when people dare to raise their voice and make things happen on their own. We all have something to say. But sometimes we think we need to ask permission before we can raise our voice. I love to be around entrepreneurs and “self made’s”.
…and in terms of shoemaking?
When it comes to shoemaking, I greatly admire the house of John Lobb in England, Scheer of Vienna or JP Myhre of Norway. Besides their ethics and values, they all stick to the best and set an important standard in the bespoke world. The bespoke world is tough. And once you have earned the customer’s trust, you are tempted to make compromises. Use shortcuts. Sell more. For me, the whole point is not to sell more. I think we all should buy less. But the best of everything.
What do you think of competition?
Competition is great and I see it as a positive thing. There is place for anyone who makes outstanding stuff and cares for more than just for the customer’s money. I wish more shoemakers would start making women’s shoes. On the other hand, I find copy-cats quite annoying. Of course, we all inspire ourselves from each other since there is nothing new under the sun, right? But take your time and filter things through your own lenses and try to find that special thing that you can call yours. It takes time.
What annoys you most?
Shoemakers have a tendency to badmouth their colleagues in front of the customers they share. I learned from my father never to do that. And I hope we will just stop doing it. It’s just low.
How did your first order look?
My first order was pair of Maftei One Piece in red patina, a pair I myself adore and wear quite often. My own shoes seem to be the best ambassadors.
Please tell me more about the bespoke process.
The way to the bespoke pair starts with an appointment where I measure your feet and display the leathers and the shoes. In our Viennese atelier, your personal last is made by Alexandru and Lucia and a pair of trial shoes is sent to me, which I let you try. Once we agree on the final fit, shape and every single detail, the final pair is made. The whole process takes about three months. It’s a long time. But the result is worth the waiting.
Can Maftei women’s shoes only be ordered through you?
No. Lucian, my brother is a great shoemaker and makes amazing lasts for men and women. He has an eye for beauty and perfection and his shoes reflect that. Lucia and Alexandru are also extremely creative and they make some amazing shoes for their Viennese customers and the places they visit. The whole family is involved in shoemaking. We all create and go for our own style. Together, we cover quite a range.
What is your favorite leather to work with? What about the favorite model?
I love simple design on clothesand vibrant colors on shoes. The best colors are those that you mix yourself. Therefore I love the crust leather in natural finish, which will let you go for any color you want, once the shoes are made. My mother Lucia is a master in patina and she always makes the impossible possible. My favorite pair is what has become the signature in the Maftei family: The Maftei One Piece in the color of your imagination.
What is your favorite word?
What is your least favorite word?
What sound do you love?
My son singing when no one is watching him.
What sound or noise do you hate?
What job would you not like to do?
Any job where my input is not really needed.
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
That’s a tough question. I don’t know.
What are your plans for the future?
To make bespoke shoes more accessible and appealing to the women of the 21st century.
A last comment?
Every one has something to say. Write. Inspire. Raise your voice and create your own legacy. You don’ t need permission to do that.