The main reason we started a shoe last shop is that there just aren’t any really great shoe last shops out there for small scale shoe manufacturers. In particular, there isn’t a single shoe last shop providing the degree of customization for bespoke and custom shoe lasts we required for our co-founder’s custom footwear business. Because of this, he was taking existing shoe lasts and modifying them by hand. He would lay up cork and then manually grind it down to match a bottom pattern and girth measurements. This was the single most time-consuming and skilled part of the business.
To improve on this, we developed our own CAD and 3D printed shoe last rail joint systems. The CAD system allows for an unparalleled ability for customization, and the rail joint is superior to other shoe last joints for smoothly removing the last from the shoe without damaging the shoe. And now, we are giving you access to this same approach via our own shoe last shop. Below are several popular shoe lasts we make in standard sizes (all widths), custom, and bespoke. For the complete list, check out our shoe lasts for sale page.
This isn’t to say we are the only shoe last shop out there. In fact, there are a great many catering to small scale shoe manufacturers. But they all leave something to be desired. Most importantly, these shoe last shops don’t offer much in the way of customization. For your interest, we’ll list the prominent shoe last shops off below with a brief explanation, and you can be the judge.
Shoe Last Shop Marketplaces
Before getting to the independent shoe last shops, we’ll first cover digital market places where small entities sell shoe lasts. Marketplaces are useful for small shoe last shops as they facilitate much of the common parts of a business, from web design to accepting credit cards. In exchange, they take a cut of the profits and grow their own traffic.
eBay Shoe Last Shop
Ebay, the popular auction marketplace website, happens to be a decent place to pick up used vintage shoe lasts. Prices seem very reasonable at first glance, usually around $40. But they nearly triple when you tack on shipping fees. And you’ll have to do a lot of sifting to get the shoe last size you’re after. The chances of finding a full graded set of shoe lasts is slim, and there certainly is no option for customization.
Etsy Shoe Last Shop
Etsy is also a marketplace, just not based on auctions. There are quite a number of sellers on there listing shoe lasts. And there is a larger range of shoe last size options than from sellers on eBay. But you’ll still end up hunting quite a bit. Some of the more popular sellers are Eastern European and communication can be a bit challenging, and shipping times lengthy. As far as customization, we don’t see any options for that.
Alibaba Shoe Last Shop
This is where you’d go if you were running a large shoe company with huge volumes and needed a large supply of shoe lasts. For anyone else, you’ll likely find it a challenge to deal with sellers. We wrote more about the various issues here: Buy Shoe Lasts.
Amazon Shoe Last Shop
This is another marketplace you’ll be able to find some shoe lasts. Amazon is more of a controlled marketplace than Ebay or Etsy. So it might be more reliable, but prices will be higher. Similar to Etsy, you’ll be able to find a range of shoe last sizes. But once again, there is not option for customization. Selection in general is more limited than it used to be.
Independent Shoe Last Shops
The following is a list of the most prominent independent shoe last shops we have come across. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. We’ll try to summarize them.
Shoe Last Shop
This shoe last shop is actually named “Shoe Last Shop”. It’s aim is to support footwear startups. It is based out of Finland, selling in Euro’s. The prices of their shoe lasts range from €45 to €75. They do a range of shoe last styles for men, women, and children, including boots, dress, and high heel. It says on their website that they can also do components, but we couldn’t find the listings. Their shoe lasts come in UK sizes and various widths, but with no option for custom and bespoke shoe lasts. Interestingly, they offer their shoe lasts with a range of different hinge types, including tendo, alpha, and wedge. They do both plastic and wood lasts with various bottom plating options.
Lonsdale Leather Shoe Last Shop
Like us, this shop is located in Canada (they’re in Vancouver, whereas we’re in Toronto). Some of their shoe lasts are in US sizes and others in UK sizes. They don’t offer multiple widths, nor customization. All of their shoe lasts use a wedge hinge, which is essentially just a chunk of the shoe last that can be removed so that the shoe last can be pulled from the shoe. This works, but it isn’t an option for shoes that require the shoe last be inserted after the upper is stitched. The price is on the high side for standard shoe lasts, at $106 CAD. One thing we really do like about this shop is that they have some matching outsoles that can be purchased for their lasts. This is a big step up from just cutting flat soles from sheets, and it will result in better wearing footwear. We hope to tackle this concept ourselves, but with a much greater range of styles and customization via 3D printing. Lonsdale Leather also sells uppers and kits. But from what we could see they’re all out of stock. They also sell various shoe making tools like lasting pincers and shoe hammers.
Brooklyn Shoe Supply Shoe Last Shop
As you’d guess from the name, this shoe last shop is located in Brooklyn, New York. They have a decent variety of shoe lasts. Some are based on US sizing, others UK. They have half sizes, but only standard widths, and no ability to customize. Prices range from around $40 to $100. What’s nice about this shoe last shop is that they also sell some kits, soles, and tools.
Xylar Shoe Last Shop
We just found this shoe last shop recently. They have a nice shoe last selection, though we don’t see any options to customize their shoe lasts. Also, they are the priciest shop on this list, at $190.15 CAD per pair of shoe lasts.
This last shoe last shop in this section is really interesting. They’re a German shop that’s been around for about 140 years. In other words, they survived the great transition to manufacturing footwear in cheap labor markets. They have a huge collection of shoe lasts. As far as customization though, they’re quite limited. They don’t publish their prices, but we’re guessing they are expensive.
More Shoe Last Shops
Below are some other shoe last shops we’ve come across, but are less prominent than those we’ve listed above.
Bespoke Shoe Last Shops
All of the shoe last shops we’ve listed above mainly aim to supply standard shoe lasts. So it’s not too much of a surprise that they lack ability to customize. We’ve also searched for companies that do custom and bespoke lasts specifically. They do exist, but the process of working with them does not appear simple. Often they require you to actually travel to their shoe last shop. And they typically don’t provide prices upfront, which is usually a sign something is expensive. The one that does provide a price for “made-to-measure” shoe lasts is Crispinian. Their price is a whopping £450, or nearly $600 USD and 4-6 week lead time. At Podohub, we aim to make the process for custom and bespoke shoe lasts to be as straightforward as possible, for a reasonable price and fast turnaround times. For your interest though, below are some of the shoe last shops we came across that do some form of bespoke and custom shoe lasts.
As you can see, there are a lot of shoe last shops out there (please tell us in the comments below if you know of others). In fact, there are probably ten times this many if you dig, and maybe hundreds of times as many if you look offline around the world. But so far we have found none that can provide the level of customization at any near the price as we offer at Podohub. And our plans to provide matching components will also set us apart. If you’re looking for a reliable source for high quality, customizable shoe lasts, we are your one stop shoe last shop.