You might be looking to buy a pair of Italian shoes online but have you ever wondered how handmade Italian shoes are made? Which steps are necessary to create your own shoes or custom sneakers? Read more on how our custom made shoes online are made!

handmade Italian shoe

All our Italian leather shoes are Made in Italy and specifically Made in Le Marche region (Central Italy), inside traditional workshops, protectors of a 100+ years old tradition: they shape the so-called “Shoe Valley” network, the Made in Italy footwear district, the worldwide pride for shoe manufacturing.

Actually the Made in Italy footwear district has its origins in the 15th century, it evolved around 1870 with the inclusion of female labour, grew in 1945 when people abandoned work in the fields and boomed in late 1960s, thanks to the industrial production. Since more than 220 steps are required to make a shoe, bigger factories needed to outsource some stages of the production to smaller specialized local factories (specialized in cutting, hemming, handcrafting soles, laces, buckels, labels, etc.). This is when the “Shoe Valley” came to life.

That’s why each of our Made in Italy shoe encapsulates tradition, knowledge, innovation and beauty: it’s thanks to the skilled hands of our custom shoe makers who every day draw, design, cut and sew all our custom shoes.
Whether you are looking for mens Italian dress shoes, Italian loafers or Italian sneakers, here’s how all our handmade Italian shoes are made.

Let’s recap the main steps needed to create a custom shoe:

  • Shoe lasting
  • Shoe designing
  • Shoe leathers
  • Shoe cutting
  • Shoe binding
  • Sole construction
  • Shoe assembly
  • Sole stitching
  • Shoe coloring
  • Shoe polishing
  • Shoe engraving
  • Shoe packing

Shoe Lasting: It’s the shoe shaping process. A shoe last is a wooden mold that emulates a foot: it is used to design the shoe and it is also placed inside the shoe so it can be modelled around it at a later stage. For instance, shoes with pointy toes are molded with a last having a pointy toe. Last construction needs to take important factors into account: the balls of the foot, heels, instep as well as the rolling motion of the foot during walking and the way in which this motion is subjected to heel height. See all DIS shoe lasts.

Curiosity: since the Late Middle Ages, shoe lasts have been made in Central Europe using logs of wood.
Curiosity: the woods used for the wooden mold are usually beech wood, maple, oak, elm, and walnut since they can withstand high pressure, blows of the hammer, nails being driven in, humidity, and temperature fluctuations. However the best woods are copper beech and hornbeam.

Shoe Designing: It’s the development of several shoe designs for every shoe last. The care and experience in the model’s design are key elements to make a shoe look good and perform well. For instance, on the same last it’s possible to develop boots, as well as loafers and lace-ups. See all DIS shoe designs for every shoe last.

Curiosity: the main shoe types like Oxford, Derbies and Loafers have remained unchanged since the 19th century! They are timeless designs every gentleman should own and they should be designed to last.

Shoe Leathers: It’s the process of picking leathers. We only use high-quality leathers and fabrics that are very carefully selected. We choose leathers that are traditionally tanned to guarantee maximum comfort, softness and durability in time. All our materials are scrupulously and carefully processed to make the most of their different features. See all DIS shoe leathers.

Shoe Cutting Or Stamping: It’s the precise manual cut of all components of the custom mens shoes leathers. The artisan uses a knife to to cut the leather, but since leather is a natural material with different characteristics throughout the skin (eg: it could have wire marks or insect bites, etc.), a significant experience is required to be able to select the best pieces and perform this job at the very best. If the shoes have decorative perforation, holes are stamped into the leather as well.

Shoe Binding Or Sewing: All leather components are stitched together to form the finished upper and then the lining. Finally, shoe size gets marked on the shoe. The shoe starts to take shape!

Sole Construction: All DIS soles are made one by one by cutting 100% Italian leathers. The leather is coupled to the heel, made by several layers of leather and fixed to the back of the sole and to the welt, a soft leather rim sewn round the edge of the upper that guarantees waterproofing.

Shoe Assembly: It’s the assembly of every detail to the highest standard. For instance, linings and trimmings, broguing and binding to elastics and lace holes. The shoe gets stretched and adjusted over the last, and fixed to the insole. Between the lining and upper the front reinforcement and the rear reinforcement are provided, in order to guarantee protection and support to the shoe. To make sure that the shoe takes the shape of the last it is necessary to wait from half an hour to more than one or weeks, depending on the type of style/color/leather combination.

Sole Stitching: The shoemaker sews each layer of the shoe – the shaft bottom, the insole and the outsole.
The process of stichting the outer sole directly to the insole is called Blake stitching or Blake construction. It has been invented in 1856 by Lyman Reed Blake and nowadays it is very popular since having fewer layers it allows more flexibility, comfort and lighter weight as compared to the sturdier Goodyear construction. Contrary to popular belief Blake shoes can be resoled with the use of a Blake soling machine.

All DIS shoes have a Blake construction, except for the shoes of the Exclusive Collection: they have a Blake Rapid construction. Blake-Rapid is a synthesis of Goodyear and Blake methods, where the stitching technique of Blake is combined with the extra midsole of the Goodyear, with the advantage of making the shoes more waterproof and durable.

Shoe Coloring: For crust leathers or other special leathers our craftsmen – just like painters – use dyes and cloth rags to give each shoe its own color: the colour that defines the personality of each customer.

Shoe Polishing: Shoe laces are threaded through and each personalised shoe gets brushed and polished to shine at its very best.

Shoe Engraving: It’s the process of adding an engraving to your shoes: your initials, your name or that of an important person, a date that marks a special occasion or a phrase that expresses and represents you. Learn more about DIS Inscriptions.

Packing: The final touch! The shoe is placed in its box after a thorough final quality check, together with a cotton bag and a wooden shoe horn.

So, you have finally learned how our Italian shoes for men are made and you understood that handcrafting shoes it’s an art, therefore two pairs are never exactly the same. Now it’s time to give it a try and customize your shoes online with us at