ORDERING CUSTOM DRESS SHOES THROUGH HOCKERTY
The rise of mass-produced fashion has turned custom-fit clothing and subsequently tailoring into a novelty service. Yet, many in the present find that off-the-rack choices, from suits to dress shirts, don’t fit quite right, and the options in terms of materials, colours, and features can be limited. A new generation of tailoring has emerged in response – less suiting focused and more on delivering the precise look and fit no matter the garment. Hockerty began with such a vision over a decade ago. Now riding the wave of online tailoring, the service promises a more customized and less restrictive experience. We had a chance to try it out with a pair of custom dress shoes.
What is Hockerty?
We consider tailoring a classic institution, whether that’s the approach of Savile Row or the act of getting a fully customized suit made. At the same time, the mode can feel exclusionary – but on that note, so can purchasing something off-the-rack if you’re a certain size. Hockerty firstly started out of a mission to make tailored clothing more accessible. Since that point, the company has grown significantly from its startup phase to include three offices – in Zürich, Switzerland, Barcelona, and Shanghai – and seeks to expand the possibilities of customization. Particularly as office workers look to create a well-fitting smart-casual wardrobe, Hockerty begins with suiting and extends to shirting, trousers, outerwear, and accessories for men and women. Accessibility, however, doesn’t strictly apply to prices and garments. Rather, location can play a factor – for instance, not being near a major metropolitan area – as can size. Considering this, Hockerty designs garments for every body shape and size. As a note, you’re advised to start shopping and using its customization tools with your own measurements ready – avoid relying on size numbers that fit you moderately well. All of this comes together in a completely touchless experience. Certain competitors might require or recommend you go to an in-person location to fully finish the job, but Hockerty’s business model keeps everything virtual.
The company claims to prioritize sustainability: This extends from helping customers build longer-lasting, more versatile wardrobes that lessen long-term consumption; reducing the amount of fabric waste generated through custom-only orders; offering a choice of more sustainable fabric options; and providing working conditions that are less damaging to the surrounding environment.
Customization remains paramount: You’ll be asked your measurements during the order – even for footwear, in my case. For suiting, this approach means that what you receive will have finished hems and sleeves. Beyond measurements, Hockerty presents customers with a broad selection of quality materials – from multiple wools, cotton, and linen for suiting to multiple leather types, canvas, and even velvet for footwear. This approach extends to fabric treatments, as well as the features on your finished item.
Made-to-measure construction: Still, even with a wide spectrum of possibilities, Hockerty uses a templated or made-to-measure approach that typically – although not always the case, based on factory delays – gets you the finished product, made and mailed, within 30 days of your order.
Perfect Fit Guarantee: As an alternative to an in-person fitting, Hockerty offers its Perfect Fit Guarantee. Products are inspected through the company’s strict quality control process before being mailed out. However, should the item not fit, Hockerty promises to reimburse you for 25 percent of the order’s cost to get it adjusted at a local tailor, or to remake it, based on the fit and degree of changes.
Designing a Pair of Shoes with Hockerty
Two elements converge when designing a pair of shoes through Hockerty’s interface. One, you don’t want to be too ordinary – multiple options for each feature are there for a reason. Two, you want to test the possibilities: The fact is, plenty of companies can do basic well. Hockerty claims that customers have access to hundreds of fabrics and colours. While this definitely describes the suiting experience, it’s also applicable to a degree for shoes. In starting this process, you first think broadly by selecting a shoe silhouette: For men, this came out to loafers, their more casual style; low-height dress shoes; and dress boots. I opted for a pair of dress boots. From here, you pick from a number of traditional silhouettes, including oxfords, chukkas, and Chelsea boots. I went with a classic pair of oxfords, partially for the greater number of design and material possibilities their tool promised. As the process becomes more specific, Hockerty’s design elements ultimately let you craft a plain-toe oxford, or dress it up with multiple levels broguing, which come with an extra cost. To fully realise your vision after you select your general boot silhouette, you’ll be taken through multiple screens covering what you can customize in terms of materials (upper and outsole) and features. As a note, you’ll be asked for your size at one point, so be ready with your foot’s measurements in inches or centimeters, based on where you are. In proceeding past the base silhouette, you’ll be asked about details for the tip: We went with a plain toe, versus a cap or wingtip. Broguing, meanwhile, can be done on the tip with just a medallion or additionally on the sides. We kept it simple and opted to skip broguing for the time being. For more specificity, you’ll be asked about eyelets – we selected blind over metal to keep it straightforward – as well as for fastening, with hooks and zippers being two alternative options.
Then, as you get through the tool, you’ll encounter materials. In general, your dress boot can be split, with multiple materials used based on shoe component, or feature a single material for the upper. To keep it moderately versatile, as opposed to the novelty of a two-tone shoe, we opted for a single material. This option, however, doesn’t yield dull results: Rather, we had access to a choice of leathers (flora leather, Italian calf leather, waxed leather, and suede), as well as canvas and velvet, each in a choice of darker colours across the burgundy-green-brown-black spectrum. We opted for velvet. For a tip about the tool’s functionality, the fewer complicated features you add, the more materials you have access to. For instance, eliminating broguing added canvas and velvet to the list. Including broguing took the textile choices out of the running. For another point of reference, the textile is strictly on the exterior: The shoe’s lining is still leather. Along with the exterior, you’ll choose a material for the outsole, with textured rubber or leather being your two options. Once your order has been finalised, Hockerty crafts the pair in its facilities, starting in Shanghai and finishing them in Spain. This process takes roughly 15 days.
For more details about the customization process:
- Once your order is taken, Hockerty’s Shanghai location checks all measurements to laser-cut each piece of material.
- From here, the pieces are then set to the company’s factories – for footwear, this will be in Spain – for all parts to be sewn together.
- Before the order is sent out, the item goes through a quality test at one of Hockerty’s logistics centers to ensure all fabrics and measurements are to the order and that no defects are present. The products are then ironed or pressed to improve presentation and lessen wrinkling.
- While their site claims apparel will arrive in a bag, the shoes came to us in a box mailed from Spain.
As far as construction and fit were concerned, the shoes – essentially a textile-based take on a classic dress boot – arrived within that 30-day timeframe, fit well, weren’t creased, and felt solid once laced up. They’ll take some breaking in, and have a somewhat more rigid design than something fully leather. Yet, as far as custom ordering online is concerned, Hockerty delivered the results it promised: a shoe to your tastes, in a reasonable time period, that is designed and made well.