Sebastian Tarek's Dandyish Derby Shoes
On the one hand, the fact that Sebastian Tarek ran his bespoke shoemaking business in his native Sydney for two years, making one-offs for catwalk shows and Sydney Opera House productions, is some accomplishment. "It's an incredibly hard thing to do simply because there is no footwear industry in Australia at all," he says, only half-joking. On the other hand, style was in his blood: Tarek himself was once asked to model for Another Magazine, his mother was the founding fashion editor of Cleo, Australia's first fashion magazine, and his dad was fashion editor of Australian Playboy during the '80s, "which was literally the only place writing about men's style in Australia back then".
Now, after spells as mixologist for various swanky London venues, the 33-year-old is back to his first love: working for George Cleverley and launching his own, eponymous bespoke line, whose colourful second season offerings have just been unveiled. With months between first meeting and getting properly shod, and at prices from £1,000 per pair, the process of going bespoke is not painless. But Tarek 's style is not something you can approximate on the cheap anywhere else. "I'd rather offer a particular look than make what's already available," says Tarek. "I still think Cleverley makes the most beautiful brogues in the world and if a client wanted brogues I'd send them there. If they want something different, they can come to me."
"Something different" means Tarek's signature architectural silhouette, textured materials, and waxed and burnished leathers. The brand new two-holed, closed-weave Derby seen here has just been unveiled for spring 2012. (Though seasons are a bit superfluous in bespoke shoemaking circles, the 3-6 month waiting time Tarek's approach necessitates means that now is the perfect time to order for the new year.) Made of ecru leather from a tannery in Northampton that still uses centuries-old techniques, then polished in two shades of burgundy by Tarek's hand before he weaves strips into the style you see here, the idea is that a pair of these are for life, not just for Christmas.