As head of our customer services team, I know why shoes get returned and without a doubt this is because they are too large. It’s not that Herring make shoes that are too big, it’s because people are not used to wearing handmade shoes. Off-the-shelf shoes and many trainers are made to a fixed standard in terms of length, width and fit. In other words, they are a generic shape. More casual/ cheaper dress shoes are commonly manufactured from man-made materials rather than leather which is also something to bear in mind.
Often cheaper shoes do not fit properly around your heel and/or ankle, blisters can develop, or too small at the front, and they will pinch you. That is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of foot ailments that can be caused by poorly fitting shoes: callouses, bunions, corns, etc, can be very painful. And, if they are manmade materials, they may be rather sweaty too.
A hand-made shoe though will be comfortable straightaway. They will hug your heels and leave you some wriggle room for your toes. You may think they feel too tight at first, but the leather will relax and mould to your feet the more you wear them, this also goes for the soles as beneath your insole there is a cork bed which will slowly take shape as you break them in, making them truly personal to you. When our customers order handmade shoes for the first time, I advise them to go for a size or half a size smaller to accommodate for the difference in fit and the way the shoe will alter over time, this is generally the difference we see between brands such as Nike, Converse, and Next. For example, you may well be a size 10 in your running trainers but you will most likely be a size 9 in most shoes we sell, if you were a size 10 in Next shoes then you will likely be a 9 or 9.5 in ours.
Don’t worry if you have a slightly wider foot, we have plenty of shoes in a wider fit (G fitting). While the original fit needs to be snug…it does not need to be too snug! Comfort is still key and we advise a 30-minute wear indoors with your new shoes is the right amount of time for the leather to warm up and for you to feel if they are the right size for you. If you get a shoe that fits right, then you will want to hang onto them. This is where handmade welted shoes come into their own. As discussed in an earlier blog, What is a welt?, handmade welted shoes are more expensive to manufacture than other production methods, but they are relatively simple to repair which greatly enhances their value.
If you need advice on the right size to order, please do not hesitate to contact me and the rest of the customer services team on +44 (0) 1548 854886 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org