I was recently introduced to a line of handmade shoes that retail for a great price point. Handmade shoes usually fall into the +$500 USD price point simply because of the labor costs, and the materials tend to be of higher quality in handmade shoes.
Jose Luis Rocha of JL Rocha was kind enough to let me try out a pair shoe from his current line www.joseluisrocha.com. I chose the 419H Leather Loafer in honey stain calfskin.
It is a beautiful shoe, inside and out. The shoe is fully leather lined with good overall flexibility. The finish on the leather was very good, and the attention to detail was very good as well. It is actually rather easy to see the handmade quality.
Simply because a shoe is handmade is no guarantee that it is a quality shoe. It is also important to note that while a bespoke shoe is handmade, a handmade shoe is not inherently bespoke. What makes a great shoe is fit, quality craftsmanship, and quality materials.
The fit of the JL Rocha shoe was excellent. They were snug in the heel and comfortable around the vamp. There was no real break-in time required, and they had just the right amount of slippage for a loafer. The heel cup and counter was shaped very well, which I would expect from a quality handmade shoe.
The JL Rocha shoes are what I consider to be a little fashion forward, with a slightly longer toe in most cases, and a slimmer profile, as compared to something like Allen Edmonds shoes where the general shape of the Last line is more conservative.
The Rocha family has been involved in the leather and manufacturing business for generations, and have been producing quality handmade footwear under the Ackerman brand in Mexico and South America. Jose Luis has now introduced the line to the United States, and the world, under the JL Rocha brand.
Now here is where it gets interesting: The handmade shoes in the current JL Rocha line sell for less than $300 USD. A quality handmade pair of shoes for less than $300 USD is hard to come by, so I had to let my readers know about the JL Rocha line.