The ‘shoemakers’ shoemaker’, offering bespoke refinement and sublime comfort for 177 years
The minute you walk into No. 83 Jermyn Street you can tell it is the ‘real thing’. It may be the scent of leather wafting down from the craftsmen and women working directly above the shop; it may be the fact that Foster & Son is London’s oldest bespoke shoemaker or it may be the delightful experience of buying a pair of Foster & Son shoes.
Foster’s ‘West End’ house style aims to be elegant, refined and masculine. The distinctive look dates back to founder Mr W.S. Foster, who first created the subtly dropping toe that elongates the appearance of the foot. Today the Foster toe remains a great classic. The Foster bespoke process, in collaboration with the customer to reflect his or her aesthetic, produces a sublimely comfortable shoe that becomes more beautiful over time. A wooden last is made to the customer’s design, and the shoe and all its decoration is built around the last by hand. A trial fitting is usually held when the shoe is part-made, after which the outer sole is stitched on by hand and the shoes polished and finished to the customer’s requirements.
Foster & Son understands that, as the foundation of any well-dressed man’s wardrobe, his shoes say more about him than anything else he wears, so their design and quality are crucial.
Foster & Son boasts an impressive list of past clients like Fred Astaire, Paul Newman, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Clark Gable, Katharine Hepburn and President Roosevelt but, as ever, the firm’s staff maintain a discreet silence about their loyal and discerning clients, who include heads of state and Hollywood stars. Many clients come through personal recommendation, but the firm travels to the USA and Asia twice a year and visits individual customers by appointment.
If you don’t have the patience to wait or the budget for a pair of bespoke shoes, Foster & Son has a ready-to-wear collection based on the firm’s extensive bespoke archives, so being part of its rich history is not beyond reach. The ‘Newman’, for example, is a new side-laced ready-to-wear shoe based on the shoe created for Laurence Olivier during the 1940’s.
Foster & Son’s also provides refurbishment services and offers quality bridle leather briefcases, luggage and small leather goods, and can make unique leather pieces, such as a case or wallet.
83 Jermyn Street is also home to Foster & Son’s sister brand Henry Maxwell, founded in 1750. Maxwell held warrants from every British monarch from George IV to HM Queen Elizabeth II and was immortalised as ‘Craxwells’ in Siegfried Sassoon’s Memoirs of a Foxhunting Man. Today Maxwell continues to signify the company’s country range, so it’s Foster & Son
for town and Maxwell for the country.