For The Discerning Few is proud to present an exclusive interview with Italian shoemaker Gian Luca Bocache. Voici la version française.
For The Discerning Few: Could you please introduce yourself for those who do not know you?
Gian Luca Bocache: I am Gian Luca Bocache. I am a shoemaker from Roma. I have been a bespoke shoemaker since I was 25 years old. I have my own workshop and I also work with several tailors such as Sartoria Ripense. My work can be seen on facebook and soon on www.bocachesalvucci.com.
FTDF: What are the different steps to create of pair of bespoke shoes?
Gian Luca Bocache: I start by taking the measures of the client’s feet. Then I create a wooden last and I draw the pattern of the shoe. Afterwards, I call the client in for a fitting.
Based on his impressions and feedback, I make modifications. Usually the shoes are ready after one or two fittings.
FTDF: What is the main difference between a bespoke shoe and a ready to wear shoe?
Gian Luca Bocache: Bespoke shoes are more comfortable and of better quality. Moreover, they allow the client to express his personality and creativity by deciding on the shape and style he wants. For example, the client can choose between a variety of leather such as calf leather, suede, stingray, ostrich, lama, crocodile, antelope and so on.
He can also choose between Goodyear, Blake, Bolognese or Norwegian construction depending on how he intends to wear the shoe. He can also have rubber soles.
Last but not least, the inside of the shoe can be made out of leather, cashmere (for winter) or linen (for summer).
As you can see, the possibilities are infinite.
FTDF: On average, how long does one have to wait for a pair of shoes and how much does it cost?
Gian Luca Bocache: It generally takes me a month to get the shoes ready. But it all depends on how available my client is for the fittings.
My clients usually do not like to wait, which means I have to work fast. In my workshop, I work with five other shoemakers. I spend most of my time meeting clients taking measures and organizing the fittings. But I supervise every step of the process from start to finish.
A pair of calf leather shoes costs 1 000 Euros but if the shoes are made of exotic leather, they are going to be more expensive.
I know some people do not understand how I can sell bespoke shoes for such a price, but I believe it is the fair price. I cannot believe some people ask for more than 1 000 Euros for ready to wear shoes!
FTDF: What do you think is the most important aspect of your job?
Gian Luca Bocache: The shoes are handmade so to me it is all about quality and craftsmanship. I will never make ready to wear shoes: they are not comfortable enough and overall they are of lesser quality.
I spend a lot of my time travelling in order to meet clients. I believe in service and punctuality. I want to meet every single one of their expectations. That is the most important thing when you make bespoke products because people want something unique. The challenge is precisely to give them what they want.
FTDF: As far as shoes are concerned, do you prefer English or Italian designs?
Gian Luca Bocache: I love traditional English designs but my preference goes to English style with an Italian twist. But as I said before, satisfying my clients is my top priority. Some of them want a typical English style whereas others prefer a more subtle Italian style and I know how to do both.
FTDF: Aside from being a shoemaker you are also a great man of style. Could you tell us a little bit more about your style?
Gian Luca Bocache: My style is rather eclectic. I am very much inspired by the forties and the fifties. Men such as Frank Sinatra and Fred Astaire are style icons of mine. I love having some “crazy” details in the inside of my jackets, for instance.
Generally speaking, I like jackets with unpadded shoulders because I find them lighter and more comfortable. I wear narrow cut cuffed pants. I have them sitting slightly above the shoe.
As far as shoes are concerned, I am fond of loafers. I wear them very often, especially in the summer with linen Bermuda shorts. I also love wearing double monk strap made of calf leather or suede leather. In the wintertime, I often wear chukka boots with flannel pants.
For The Discerning Few wishes to thank Gian Luca Bocache for his availability, his simplicity and his kindness.
This interview was conducted by VM & PAL for For The Discerning Few. Paris, November 2010. All rights reserved.