Extreme Makeover: Last Edition

I experienced a shoe crisis when I brought only one pair of shoes for an eight-day Europe trip.

Yes, I brought the pair I made as an apprentice — the most comfortable pair of shoes I owned. The lasts made by Springline still fit better than any shoe brand.

Update: I’d like to clarify these are altered stock lasts, not bespoke. I misunderstood, thinking they were bespoke, but received clarification from they’re not. The lasts are, however, customized to my measurements (taken by my master teacher, a custom shoemaker).

Until I traveled with them every day (for 8 hours) and discovered that my feet hurt.

Why now? I had worn these shoes the last year and a half without issue.

On day 4, my feet chafed and blistered, and my toes were so crammed that I thought I’d develop hammer toes.

On day 6 I bought runners. And what of my old shoes?

They weren’t in great shape anyway. I unceremoniously dumped them. My little toes tingled with joy.

Casualties: my injured toes began to ache and curve forward.

I examined my injured feet. The last three digits of my toes had repeatedly brushed the front of my shoe. They didn’t have enough room.

Apparently the issue is at bottom of my last, where the ball of my foot was curved.

Instead of a curve, the surface should be flat. This curvature pushed my toes towards the front of my shoe, which led to rubbing.

This curvature is characteristic of stock lasts. Springline does offer bespoke with measurements and all — I just haven’t tried them.

I can’t stress the importance of a good last. I’d advise readers to consult an experienced, truly customized lastmaker. Someone you can meet and assess their technical ability.

But honestly, it’s hard to discern a good lastmaker until you’ve tried them.

Every lastmaker has different qualifications and years of experience. Some know orthopedics. Others don’t.

Luckily I had my lasts with me. And London was the perfect place to adjust them.

I found a British lastmaker who agreed to adjust my lasts: specifically the toe shape, width, and pitch.

After: you can see the leather added to the original last. The toe is slightly rounder now with more room above the toes.

He would try and fix the area and relieve the cramming toes; he’d also add leather to the toe and make it more English and almond-shaped. My lasts were originally made French and pointy.

It’s mainly the underside of the last.

If my toes had been forced in this position long-term, it would have led to hammer-toes. Good thing my shoes are in the trash now.

After: The curve at the ball of the foot is less dramatic now. The bottom was sanded more evenly

It’s unclear if these alterations to my existing last will work, but it’s worth a try.

Despite its flaws, I still like my Springline last.

I’d meticulously tweaked them, at the ankles and instep, where I believe most bespoke shoemakers will struggle to nail on the first two trial shoes. It’s still useful to reference these lasts.

This article was slightly longer than usual. But i’m sure readers get the point: the last always comes first.

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