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The well-heeled man: Demand for $1,700 shoe rises

Tags: Retail

BLOG: Saint Crispin's may be the answer to a shoe aficionado's prayers.

Founded in 1982 and named after the patron saint of shoemakers, Saint Crispin's handmade, custom-designed shoes are produced in Romania by 19 skilled craftsmen. Materials are sourced from around the world and fashioned to custom measurements. It takes 45 hours on average to make each pair, which is why only 1,200 are produced every year.

The shoes are made of the highest quality, and customers pay for the privilege. A pair of Saint Crispin's starts at $1,690 - and that's before you add in costs for exotic leathers or customizations. Even with the hefty price tag, owner Phillip Car says demand for the shoes is up 15 to 20 percent since 2008.

Even with the increased demand, Car says he isn't rushing to expand capacity. He says he wouldn't risk the quality of the shoes by hiring craftsmen who can't live up to the Saint Crispin's standard. That standard is what convinced the Vienna-based company to open its workshop in Romania.

"We looked in India, Asia, and other places around the world," says Car, "but we chose Romania because it's one of the few countries that still has existing schools for shoemakers."

"These shoes are made to last a lifetime," says Ideyi Chuku, owner of high-end Toronto shoe store Leatherfoot. "They're made to be re-soled, the leather can be re-dyed. If they need work, we can ship the shoes back to Saint Crispin's and they'll fix them," according to Chuku.

There are approximately 20 retailers around the world who sell Saint Crispin's. Car says he gets a lot of requests from stores looking to sell his product, but "most of the partnerships don't make sense because they couldn't offer the proper customer service."

Each retailer needs to be trained by Car and his staff to properly measure a custom shoe order.

Car says that attention to customer service is part of a growing trend in the men's fashion business.

"People are going back to service and to quality," says Car. "Our aim is to have a satisfied customer who is the best dressed man in the room."

Watch the video above for a look at some of Saint Crispin's creations, and write to us in the comments section. What's the most you've ever spent on a pair of shoes?

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