- Some Foster and Son bespoke shoes
We are the oldest bespoke shoemaker in London; WS Foster & Son was founded in 1840, Henry Maxwell in 1750, and are known as “the shoemaker’s shoemaker” because of the quality of our work. All our bespoke shoes are made in our workshop at 83 Jermyn Street by our team of highly skilled craftspeople.
The firm is still in private English ownership and maintains its mission to sustain the highest standards of craftsmanship and personal service.
During the Second World War in 1941 Mr. Foster was killed by a bomb at Waterloo station, but coincidentally another shoemaker, Charles Chester, lost his premises in a direct hit from another bomb. Their leather merchant put them together and he moved in with Mrs. Foster at her 5 Eagle Place workshop, between Piccadilly and Jermyn Street. The firm soon moved to 5 Duke of York Street St. James’s and then to 83 Jermyn Street in 1966.
In 1965, our celebrated last maker Terry Moore, already a 15 year veteran in the trade, joined Foster & Son and helped to further refine our elegant designs and superb fit into the classic shapes we still make today.
By 1999 Foster & Son had been joined with Barrow and Hepburn Ltd. another well-known luxury leather goods maker and by Henry Maxwell the famous boot and shoe-makers as a sister company.
Today 83 Jermyn Street still has the feel of a family-owned business. We hope that here you will find the same welcoming environment and low-key, courteous and professional service that our discerning clients have come to expect over the generations.
In this blog we will tell you all about our bespoke shoe making process, talk to our shoemakers, show you lots of pictures of our shoes and explain why we believe that, in terms of refined elegance, Foster and Son make the most recognisably “English” shoes in the world.
That’s not to say that other makers aren’t very good. In fact English shoemaking is enjoying something of a renaissance, with more and more men appreciating the values of timeless footwear.
It’s just that a Foster and Son shoe is both instantly recognisable and quintessentially English.
The Foster & Son workshop at 83 Jermyn Street is a hive of activity. Our shoemakers make all of our bespoke shoes there in a way that hasn’t significantly changed since Foster & Son and Henry Maxwell were formed in 1840 and 1750 respectively. Indeed, it is only by remaining true to the traditions of over 430 years of bespoke shoe and bootmaking that we can do justice to those who preceeded us.
A visit to the shop will reveal lasts (the shoes are presumably still with the families of their owners) made for, amongst others, Charlie Chaplin, Fred Astaire and Cary Grant. Going back a little further we made hunting boots for Siegfried Sassoon, the First World War poet. He memorably described his visit to Henry Maxwell in his books the ‘Complete Memoirs of George Sherston’. We will write more about that soon.
(on a side-note, please read all three volumes of the memoirs. They are amongst the most beautiful and evocative works in English literature)