After being trained in the shoemaking arts by some of the all-time greats—including Italian master Roberto Ugolini and US shoemaking gravitational center Marcell MrsanFrancis Waplinger found himself making shoes in a barn. Nobody said bespoke shoemaking was supposed to be easy.

Juggling multiple jobs on the east end of Long Island while sharing that barn workspace with his artist wife, Francis persisted: honing his craft, creating a range of samples, and eventually landing that crucial first bespoke order. About half a decade later, Francis has settled into a Brooklyn studio to cater to a growing list of clients for his uniquely styled, Americana nostalgia-/art deco-inspired bespoke dress shoes (and, he promises, more boots soon!).

So what’s it like to be a bespoke shoemaker? From the training, to the craft and toil, to figuring out how to manage the business side of a single-person operation? Francis is here to let it rip on all of that and more.

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Francis Waplinger Bespoke Shoemaker


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