The George Glasgows, father and son, NYC, Oct 2012
Cleverley bespoke shoes are works of art. Like little sculptures I can be enjoy for the sheer beauty of it...because I (probably) will never wear them, or own a pair. They don't make ladies shoes. I asked, of course, when I met the father and son team at the helm of the legendary bespoke shoemakers of London on their most recent visit to New York. They smiled at the question. But a lady can appreciate, can't she?
I was charmed by the stories of George the elder. Not surprising - he is known to be a colorful storyteller. It helps so I can be quiet and watch. But I naturally like to hear stories. When he starts to talk he gets a little smile on his face and his hand rests itself on his chest just under his lapel. It could be Napoleonic, but instead it's very relaxed.
Glasgow told me how he started out long ago apprenticing George J Cleverley, and eventually came to own the company, and about how a lot of young people are interested in bespoke shoes now, but sometimes want them as quickly as they want everything else. The old timers, though, the lords and royalty who have always been customers, never mention anything as pedestrian as time, or, god forbid, money. A simple note is passed to announce the shoes are ready for pick up, and that is all.
Much love and mending. Made in July 1980, this pair shows wear, but I'll bet they feel great!
The signature "suspiciously square toe" styling.
It might seem odd - that this customer is smelling the shoe, but not if you knew why...
They are made from the famed Russian reindeer leather that has been rescued from the cargo of a 1786 shipwreck. How utterly romantic, how rarefied. Even though this exclusive material has been mentioned by many blogs and magazines, it really does still have an air about it. And the smell…in person…I loved it. It should be a cologne, if that's even possible. It's incredibly masculine and smells of smoky leather and metal.
They made a hefty travel bag from it as well. I wouldn't mind this for my guy, not at all.
Alex Rodriguez came by for the fitting on his first pair of shoes. Hopefully this marks the end of trainers?
Cleverley, as you can imagine, has been enabling dandies for decades: current bon vivants Tom Wolfe and Ed Hayes, Andre Churchwell, as well as those legends from the past like Bunny Rogers (he liked those difficult button up boots that require a contraption to get into them), and "aristocratic aesthete" Baron De Rede.
All the while I was hearing the stories from the elder, George Jr was talking with clients, checking in with his phone, arranging fittings, and fluttering back and forth between all the rooms of the presidential suite getting orders ready for customers. He's the new generation, and quite business minded and tech savvy. That's a great compliment to the legend of Cleverley - and I wish the Georges all the best!