Heritage is a tricky thing. Without it, we’d be lost. It informs us, it guides us, it helps sculpt the pillars and principles upon which we build a future. But heritage can also become a shackle; a framework that defines what we are not, what we cannot be and where we cannot go. It’s a dichotomy that's became ever more apparent to Tony Gaziano and Dean Girling during their years making shoes for the likes of Edward Green and George Cleverley. So they formed Gaziano & Girling and set out to do something about it.
Gaziano & Girling today is one of the most exciting and adventurous English shoemakers in the market. Absolutely ruthless with quality - all shoes are crafted using what is essentially a bespoke level of craftsmanship - but creatively daring in a way that’s rarely matched. “Nobody wanted us to succeed,” laughs Tony Gaziano, the brand’s charismatic lastmaker and creative lead, when I ask him about the brand’s early days. “And nobody thought we would. Especially because the same companies have been around for so long. To create a new company and get the trust of suppliers, get the workforce together and even get some of the machinery that we use, which can be anything from fifty to a hundred years old, is a huge undertaking.”
Tony and Dean met through the industry, Tony a lastmaker and Dean a sole and heel maker. “Between the two of us, we could make a pair of shoes,” says Tony. “As we entered into the first few years of our business, we decided that there was a gap in the market for a ready-made or made-to-order shoe that had all of the characteristics of a bespoke pair. We set out to create shoes on a manufacture basis that had all of the characteristics of a bespoke shoe, which had never really been done before. We used the materials that were involved in bespoke and we created our own lasts that were based on bespoke fitting lasts. We bridged that gap - that was our vision for the business.”