Custom Sandals From Ateliers Around the World

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Customization in fashion encompasses just about everything from embroidering your name on a tee to slicing the hems off a pair of jeans to embossing your initials on a leather clutch. Basically, the slightest alteration can be marketed as a personalized piece. And while that might spark feelings of specialness and instant gratification (or both), it doesn’t hold a candle to something that’s specially designed just for you—like a pair of custom-made sandals.

Because the problem with traditional sandals is that they can be incredibly challenging to shop for—which is something that celebrity stylist Anita Patrickson discovered prior to launching her Los Angeles-based custom sandal-making studio Amanu. “When I was concepting Amanu, I wanted to see how many sandals I could find for ,000,” she says to CR. “I did everything from online shopping to exploring SoHo in New York, from high-end to low-end, and I could not spend money on a pair I loved. It didn’t fit or it wasn’t quite the right color or it was insanely expensive for three little bits of leather. That’s when I realized, oh my god there is a real hole here.”

Amanu harnesses the talent of artisans to handcraft bespoke beautifully made sandals, and now, two and half months after its opening, the brand has quickly become a favorite among influencers and celebrities. Of course, it’s not the only one. We profiled three shoe ateliers—Amanu in Los Angeles, Capri Positano Sandals in Vico Equense on the Sorrento Coastline in Italy, and Modern Vice in New York City—that deliver unique, custom-made styles you’ll treasure all season long.


It all started when Patrickson paid a visit to Capri where she had sandals made. But it wasn’t until one of her clients complained about the fit of her sandals that the idea took form. “I was like, dammit we need that little shop,” recalls Patrickson, whose celebrity clients include Julianne Hough, Ruby Rose, and Portia de Rossi. “I had always wanted to create something that was a little more lasting—red carpet moments are so special and fun, but they’re over so quickly. I wanted to take my knowledge and experience and put it into something.”

She brought cobblers from Capri to train four Amanu makers—who hail from all over the U.S., including Chicago, Baltimore, the Bay Area, and Los Angeles—on the ancient sandal-making process, she sourced materials from Italy, and she developed core designs inspired by her native country South Africa. The end result: more than 400 possible outcomes for a custom sandal.

And the process itself is incredibly simple: You book an appointment online, pick the style, materials, and color, get fitted, sip on champagne as you wait the 30 minutes for your sandal to be made (it takes eight minutes for a simple slide, 25 minutes for a more involved design, like a multi-strap style), and walk out with a perfect pair that costs between 0 and 5.

“With fast fashion, it’s so easy to consume, you don’t really know what goes into it, so you don’t place value on anything. With Amanu, it’s really nice to see this kind of craftsmanship that goes into each pair of shoes,” she says. “Having that contact with another person is really unique and special. I also love that it’s not adding to the waste; we only use what we need, so I don’t have an inventory that will go to an outlet store or the landfill.”

Patrickson plans to launch a T-strap style soon, heels in the fall, and pop-ups in New York City next summer. “I’m trying not to get too overexcited and do too many things,” she says. “I think everyone’s been floored. The novelty is the experience—of having something that’s so custom, comfortable, and chic. It’s everything I could ever hope for, to create something people love.”

605 West Knoll, West Hollywood


In 2012, Victoria Hampshire launched Capri Positano Sandals after falling in love with the traditional sandal-making process that involves crafting each design by hand—beginning with the creation of the soles and working upwards—and not, she insists, assembling pieces of factory-made leather purchased from other suppliers (a common occurrence at most tourist spots).

“I was passionate about the process involved with the making of each sandal and the local traditions it symbolized,” says Hampshire, who found her makers—a small family team—through her husband Raffaele who is from the Sorrento Coast region. “It’s important to wear quality pieces that last, that you know where they come from, and aren’t mass, so I’m proud to offer this item—an artisan crafted sandal of the highest quality—to the world.”

Crafted from certified Tuscan hides, the Capri Positano offers both traditional Positano-style sandals (a style that’s existed for hundreds of years) and contemporary designs that range from classic ankle-strap pairs (like the Classic Band Original, a best-seller for years, and the Furore, a hit from last summer’s collection) to structured styles featuring studded uppers (the Scraio is Hampshire’s personal favorite).

But the neatest element is that each style is customizable: Pick a shoe style and select an upper (leather or suede), choose from 23 different colors and two different sole types, add studs, and whether you want a stitched or unstitched finish for a completely unique pair. And there’s the option, too, of designing a shoe from scratch by sending a request online. It takes three days to fulfill a custom order.

“The customer really has no limits,” Hampshire says. “And we offer a very honest price for our pieces (which range between 125 to 215 euros, or 5 to 8), especially if you consider the quality of the sandal—a sandal that ages beautifully and can be worn for years.”


Located in the Garment District in the heart of midtown Manhattan, Modern Vice is the only shoe factory left of its kind, blending modern-day technology (design, development, and production are all housed under one roof) with traditional Italian craftsmanship. And while Modern Vice’s bread and butter lies in supplying badass, Instagrammable made-to-order boots (like ones crafted in metallic and embroidered with stars and lightning bolts), there have been instances of sandals in keeping with the brand’s boundary-pushing aesthetic: hand-cut Weed Life sandals and Weed Patch slides.

Founded by Jordan Adoni, Modern Vice’s boots are handmade with leather in New York City (the soles are first made in Italy before they’re shipped to the U.S.) that’s sourced from local and Italian tanneries, and they’re decorated with custom hardware from Italy.

Custom orders and possible partnerships with Modern Vice can be made by submitting an inquiry online.

247 West 38th Street, #301

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