March 11, 2017 by Ville Raivio
Last year, with the help of Buday, I set about to try yet another Hungarian shoemaker I had read about but not seen in person. The end result is arrived in the form of the Paris model: a gimped austerity brogue made on the London-last from mid-brown calfskin, with single oak-bark leather soles, double-spaced lacing, piping around the ankle, steel toe plates and clean seamless heelcups. To make them more personal, the shoes were also made to measure and feature bright blue lining along with an undyed welt top and white welt stitching. These small details delight the owner, but won’t stand out like the ever-more popular “luxury” sneakers that feature uppers stamped with brand logos. When having clothes made, there is no need to shout — a commission is already personal without eye-grabbing gimmicks.
The London-last is Buday’s most traditional round toe form: not extended or short, nor narrow or wide, but with a high instep like most Hungarian lasts I’ve tried. The Italian calfskin is very smooth and even, not particularly soft or stiff, and comes in a chocolatey shade. The leather snaps back tp the last’s shape quickly after bending. The all-leather heel stiffener is strong and covers the whole cup. The toe stiffener is likewise strong, though smaller in size. The upper stitching is double-rowed, dense and neat. While the design is on the conservative side, the edges are peppered with gimping and the lacing holes are struck in pairs. Most shoes have an even space between all holes, but the Paris model leaves more room after each pair of holes. These bits, combined with the lengthened and high-reaching wingtip portion, are enough to set the shoe apart. Again, there is no need for shouting with striking patina work or large-scale details if the design is smart.
As with all Hungarian shoemakers I’ve tried, the Buday pair’s sole and welt together are thicker than those found on dressy Italian models. This makes for a bulkier look but lengthens the use before a re-soling is needed. However, when viewed from top-down, most of the pair’s welt disappears under the contours of the last, more so than with other Hungarians. The welt stitch is even in size. The Rendenbach soles come with a fancy finish and large grooves that hide the sole stitches. Unlike Buday’s regular pairs, their made to measure shoes also come with a jar of glue, a brush, two sets of foam heel pads, thicker leather insoles, shoe bags, spare laces, thin leather sockliners plus thin liners with foam inserts. With this arsenal, the customer can modify the fit to his liking and beat any errors made while he took his own measurements. The shoe box is a thin, grey cardboard setup, and the beechy shoe trees have a smooth finish and a very close fit.
Finally, the fit, the most important bit with MTM shoes. My slim heels rise up from most heelcups, but here they remain sturdily in place. Another point is my wider left small toe that usually rubs against the last’s edge. Here it does not. The insteps are securely hugged under the tongues and lacing, and all toes have wiggling room. In short, the fit is, as subjectively as I can say, good after the leather insoles and foam as well as thin liners were added.