In an age when anything that can’t be bought in a store can be ordered from the internet and delivered within a day or two, waiting over a month for something made-to-order can seem like an anachronism.
But then again, in an age when everything is more disposable and replaceable than ever, having something unique which is made to last is becoming more and more of a rarity. This is where the beauty of having something made to order really comes into its own.
Sydney’s incarnation of 124 shoes is an unassuming, elegant shopfront inside Sydney’s Galleries Victoria building. One of four boutiques operated by the company, it’s the perfect portal to be introduced to the world of made-to-order footwear. From formal Oxfords and Monks that would complete the most elegant of sartorially curated suiting, to Chukka Boots that are built tougher than … well … old boots, there’s an appropriate pair for every visitor.
Sourced from some of Italy’s best craftsman, 124’s selection is not a hit-parade of overpriced brand names, rather, it is a carefully maintained selection of boutique cordwainers, whose slow and methodical approach to manufacturing has kept Italy at the top of the shoemaking ladder for as long as the profession has existed. Lemargo, Preventi, Santori Gold and Ink might not ring any haute fashion bells, but that’s half the point.
From nails in the sole that have clearly been hit with actual hammer, by a human hand, to the different textures of leather carefully selected for each vamp, toe cap and tongue: these shoes are all, very clearly, the work of an artist. Available in half-sizes, finding the perfect fit is super easy (friendly staff won’t let you out of the shop until every option has been exhausted, so that what you eventually end up with is exactly what you want and your feet need).
Once a fit and a style is locked in, it’s time to talk materials. And not just whether or not you’d prefer calf to kangaroo as a choice in leather; different parts of a hide produce different levels of softness and thickness in the resulting leather: something important to consider for different boots. Selecting something thicker and hardier for boots is a logical choice, but having a feel of different leathers first is a great way to find out exactly what it is you’d like.
With a style locked down, fit checked twice, colour and leather confirmed, it’s simply a matter of waiting. Given that the shoemakers are on the other side of the world, and generally very busy, this can vary, however under six weeks is a good measure for how long it will probably take.
And then when they’re ready, you get the joy of picking up something that you helped to create, just for yourself. And this is the very best part of the service. Stepping into brand new shoes that don’t need wearing in at all is a rare luxury, and one which you just don’t get from anything off the shelf. Even old faithful RMs take a couple of months before your toes are comfy. 124’s service is a holistic one, which has you padding along the pavement in absolute comfort, right out of the box.
At the end of the day, instant gratification is great. But the comfort that goes with a custom pair of made to order shoes is even better, and the knowledge that they’ll be on your feet more often, and for longer, is testament to this fact.
Made to order shoes? As easy as 124.