What you need to know before commissioning a bespoke pair of shoes or handbag from Caroline Groves.

How much does a pair of bespoke shoes from Caroline Groves cost?

Every commission if different. Price on application.

How much does a bespoke handbag from Caroline Groves cost?

Every commission if different, but as a guide the bags you can see on the website have ranged in price from £4,500 to £19,300.

What can I expect from my first appointment with Caroline?

Prior to your first appointment you will have spoken to Caroline by phone or email and had a general discussion about your requirements. Caroline may ask you to bring along a particular shoe, whether a favourite style or one of particular comfort. The most important criteria to decide at this stage is the purpose of the shoe (whether a special occasion or a working shoe for example) along with the heel height and toe shape.

Caroline will take the measurements and information that she needs to prepare for the second appointment. This meeting will take between 45 minute to an hour and Caroline will ask you to pay a 50% non refundable deposit. A date will be made for the second appointment at which stage a mock up shoe will have been made to evaluate fit and to help further define the style.

Who should I bring with me to my appointment?

It can be distracting to bring other people to the first appointment with you. Friends often bring their own ideas and feel they are there in the role of advisor. Caroline is your advisor. She has many years of experience and will guide you through the process. It is important that you and Caroline engage clearly about your requirements and that you understand the process. It is in the first stages that the greatest time and outlay is expended, if this has to be repeated because of ill informed decisions at the beginning then extra expense will be incurred. It has been known for a client to order a 4″ heel under encouragement from a friend but then be unable to wear the shoes!

Are Caroline's shoes and bags made by hand?

All Caroline’s shoes are made entirely by hand, there is no production line or preformed components. whilst Caroline does much of the work herself in her studio, she has a number of highly skilled workers who she calls upon for individual specialist skills.

Where are Caroline's bespoke shoes and bags made?

All Caroline shoes and bags are made in the UK.

What is the difference between bespoke and made-to-measure/custom-made?

Made-to-measure and made-to-order imply that a style from a standard range is chosen and in the case of made-to-measure that standard is made for the client adjusting to measurements in a limited way.

Made-to-order is usually a style from a standard range being made up to a standard size and chosen colour when ordered. Custom is a US term which usually implies that a given shoe can be customised in some way, generally a choice of colour or a particular heel shape or an adornment of some sort.

Bespoke is about a conversation between client and maker (Caroline). It means that the shoes that you commission are not only made especially for you, to your measurements, and conforming to a rigorous fitting process.  A design agreed by you and Caroline, on a last prepared for you at a heel height and toe shape that is right for you. The heel may well be carved just for you and any other elements that are agreed upon. It is a service and hence the higher cost.

Where does Caroline source the materials for her shoes and bags?

Caroline quite simply sources from the best in the world. In the case of soling, insoling etc. the leather (no leather or fibre boards) is English Oak bark tanned as used by the finest shoemakers around the world – it comes from Britain’s only remaining traditional oak bark tannery in Devon.

Upper leather, suedes and exotics come from the countries/tanneries that produce the best for the purpose in terms of quality, colour palette, finish and adhering to the most stringent ecological and environmental requirements. Most often this will be Italy or France. Caroline has good and long established relationships with her suppliers.
How long does it take Caroline to make a pair of bespoke shoes?

The time involved in making a first pair of shoes will often be around three months with subsequent pairs being made more quickly. The reason for this is the necessary fittings and work being done between fittings and the waiting list at the time.

How long does it take Caroline to make a bespoke handbag?

The period required to create a bag will very much depend on what that bag is and whether others such as bookbinders or silversmiths are engaged in the process. Three months will often be a good guide. Remember, if you were commissioning a work of art or craftsman made piece of furniture you would expect it to take time.

Payment procedure

Caroline always takes a 75% non returnable deposit with the order. This is general practice and it is in the early stages that most time and expense is out layed. The balance of the cost of your shoes or bag becomes payable on completion. Credit card details are kept on file for the duration of the process. In the case of international clients shipping will be added when the balance is paid.

Does Caroline Groves offer internships or work experience?
On occasion Caroline may take a student for a period of time. It must be understood that hers is not a ‘design’ studio but a working craft environment. Craft skills are acquired over many years of discipline and application. Caroline does not undertake to ‘train’ students in craft skills. However she is always more likely to consider a student who can demonstrate good practical skills, perhaps dress making, carpentry etc..
It must be noted that the workshop is in a rural position and it would usually be necessary to drive and possibly to find lodgings in the area.
Does Caroline Groves run leather working training courses?
No, but she highly recommends the courses run by Valerie Michael and Neil MacGregor. They are quite simply the best, internationally recognised and much in demand. If there is no availability (they are very often over subscribed) look for a course with a leatherworker trained by them such as www.leathercoursesbritain.com
For shoemaking courses check out, London College of Fashion or De Montfort University-Leicester.
Does Caroline lend sample shoes or bags for photoshoots and film?

Caroline keeps very few sample but will lend occasionally for a high profile press feature.

Does Caroline make orthopaedic shoes?

Caroline has over 25 years experience and started in orthopeadic work. However she does not now see this as her vocation. She is happy to recommend colleagues who will be able to meet your requirements.

Does Caroline make bespoke shoes for men?

No, although during her career Caroline has worked for the finest bespoke gents shoemakers in the country, she has carved out her niche in heeled women’s shoes. Should you wish for advice regarding gents shoes, she will be happy to recommend.

Does Caroline collaborate with other crafts people?

Yes, part of the pleasure for Caroline in her creative process is to commission elements for her shoes or bags from some of the finest craftsmen in the country.

Does Caroline offer gift cards?

Yes, should you wish to make a gift of Caroline’s service, either shoes or bags please contact her to discuss. You may wish to pay for her standard service for a pair of bespoke shoes or set a limit on the upper end you would wish your recipient to spend in the commissioning of a bag.  Please discuss with Caroline.