Last week, I had a chance to sit with Dean Girling of Gaziano & Girling at the Bergdorf Goodman men’s shoe library in Midtown for their first trunk show presentation at the famed retailer. A bespoke shoe maker by trade, he started his career working for the who’s who of Westend bespoke houses: John Lobb, Cleverly’s, and Fosters & Sons. As a freelance shoe maker, construction was in his lineage, a passion for the yesterday’s craftsman and the refinement of classic bespoke shoes passed down from his father.
He met Tony Gaziano at Cleverly’s and maintained the relationship when Tony moved onto Edward Green in Northamptonshire, with Tony later inviting him to collaborate on that project. The friendship grew and they often discussed their own collection of shoes combining Gaziano design and Girling handiwork, eventually producing a high end classic English shoe with a contemporary twist which exploring different lasts and material combinations. They forged Gaziano & Girling in 2006 with two styles and Steven from Leffot being an early supporter. “With our combined experience, we knew that we were entering a competitive and very niche market at this price point but we also knew we could produce a shoe that appealed to an equally unique customer base.”
They opened up a Goodyear welted manufacturing operation in that legendary hub, reinvigorating an area that had been in decline since the 1970’s, apart from the handful of family-owned shoe makers that maintained over the years. “We wanted to bring a high quality ready-to-wear shoe with a bespoke aesthetic” says Dean, hence the characteristic beveled fiddleback waist. “The line is really a rebirth of the classic English shoe with that touch of modernity: sharp lines, exciting color ways, but traditional at its core.”
And they’ve since expanded, with a flagship store at No. 39 Savile Row and plans to open up establishments in Asia and the U.S. as they approach their tenth anniversary. “We started off just knocking on doors and built from there. Obviously, Bergdorf’s has the right audience and clientele for our product and gave us a wonderful chance to display our work in this fine luxury store.”