“There is nothing more satisfying than a proper-fitting, well-made pair of shoes,” says Peter Feeney. And he should know. This is a guy who loves good shoes so much he quit his job in advertising, rented out his Toronto condo and spent almost four years — unpaid — studying and apprenticing in Florence to become a shoemaker. “It was the best decision I ever made.”
When he first started as an apprentice cordwainer,* Feeney wasn’t even allowed to hold the hammer. Now, he has a studio in a Victorian house on the corner of Gerrard and Sherbourne, where he makes his own line of undeniably beautiful bespoke footwear for men and women.
Each pair requires at least 40 hours of labour by hand, most of which Feeney does himself. It all starts with a consultation at his studio, where he and his clients hash out exactly what kind of shoe he’s going to make. “It’s a really creative interaction,” he says. Together, they’ll pick everything from the colour of the leather to the level of polish.
Depending on demand, the shoes take 12 to 18 weeks to make. Most of that time is for the production of the “lasts” — plastic moulds formed in the exact shape of his customers’ feet.
Each pair is different, but typically Feeney’s shoes will set you back about $1,500 — actually a fair price for what you get. “These aren’t shoes that are going to break down any time soon,” he says.
You may not think yourself a typical custom-shoe customer, but Feeney says he gets orders from an array of people. “Our clients range from tattoo artists to surgeons and lawyers. What they have in common is a taste for high-quality, well-crafted products. And that’s exactly what they get.”
* Not to be confused with a cobbler. Cobblers fix shoes, cordwainers make them.
Peter Feeney Bespoke can be found at www.peterfeeney.ca — 306 Sherbourne St.
This story is part of The Precedent guide to looking polished.