The term is often used, and little understood. As always, we are here to help.

As the name implies, bench-made shoes are those that are hand-tooled on a craftsman’s table or cobbler’s bench. But that designation doesn’t mean they’re entirely handmade or fully bespoke. Typically, after an initial fitting, a single shoe will pass through the hands of a gang of artisans with names straight out of a Guy Ritchie movie—the last-maker, the pattern-cutter, the clicker, the closer, the maker, the socker, and the tree-maker–before finally settling in the cloudy caresses of the polisher. Of course, to have all that work done fatto a mano is exceedingly expensive and time-consuming, so many top firms who produce benchmade shoes—Lobb, Loake, Church’s and Cleverly, to name a few—rely on machines to do some part of the cutting or closing on their RTW lines. But don’t take that as a sign of poor craftsmanship. It’s not necessarily important for the clicking (or cutting) to be done by hand. Great lasting, though, the stretching of the upper over the last, that requires a personal touch.

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