After going down the rabbit hole of slow fashion these past few months, I’ve discovered an entirely new world of shoes. Now, I admit not all of these are fully my style. For example, as much as I appreciate the orthopedic value of clogs, I’m not investing in a pair of beautiful Bryr clogs quite yet. Flats and booties on the other hand? I’m 100% in. One maker in particular stood out from the rest with her unique styles and approach to shoemaking – Sevilla Smith.
Sevilla Smith is a lady-owned handmade shoe business started by Faye Smith, who pivoted to shoemaking after a career in film costume design. Her thoughtful and classic designs are characterized by the following:
- Stitch-free design: This allows the leather to conform fully to your feet and makes it impossible for hot spots to form
- No stiffeners: Most modern shoes (even Rothys) use toe and/or heel stiffener to create and maintain the shape of the shoe. Similar to stitched leather, this can often cause discomfort for most (hello heel blisters)
- Hand-lasted: Each shoe is lasted by hand, which means that a shoemaker painstakingly pulls and stretches the leather over a wooden form to achieve the shape of the shoe
Her shoes are made-to-order by her team in the US or in Barcelona, with orders taking 2 – 4 weeks on average. This ensures that they never overproduce any style or color, and make full use of the limited leather they have on hand.
Both The Sandy (their most popular style) and The Audrey drew me in to the brand with their unique shapes. Because of the labor and materials that go into each shoe, Sevilla Smiths do cost more than your typical store brand. They start around $250 and go up to $300 for limited edition designs. If you’re curious to see the breakdown of costs, from materials to labor, check out their Instagram post on this.
Before diving into a pair full-price, I found a pair in excellent condition from Poshmark for only $150. After wearing them consistently for a few weeks, I wanted to share my thoughts so far!
Love the Sandy style. It’s like a hybrid between a bootie and a d’orsay flat, and can be worn for both casual and professional settings. The side cut makes it very easy to slip on and off, but somehow still remains very secure while walking. It looks different enough from my Rothy’s points and Blondo booties to keep in my daily rotation.
The leather really forms to your feet – so in lighter and softer leathers, you can see the outline of your feet or toes at times. This doesn’t bother me, but I wanted to call that out for those who aren’t a fan. The heel area has a small wrinkle underneath, due to the absence of a heel stiffener. Again, I don’t mind and think this adds to the character of the style.
I am generally a narrow 7.5 – I wear a 7.5 in all Rothy’s styles (even points), I can squeeze into a 7 in Tieks and typically wear a 7.5 B or 38 in other shoes. I bought a size 38 based on the official sizing chart and they fit lightly snug with about 1 cm of space in front of my toe. From what I understand, these are supposed to fit snug out of the box due to the natural stretching of the leather. I’ll update this post later if they do stretch out and become loose – if that’s the case, I may try another in size 7 / 37.
These shoes feel fantastic on. They hug your feet immediately in a way that I haven’t seen with any other shoes, except the Everlane Day Glove in ReKnit (quick review here). Because the leather is so soft and there are no tough, stiched edges, I think these would work well for those with bunions.
Smell & Sweat
So far, no problem – given the all-leather construction of these shoes, I don’t expect odor to be a problem unlike synthetic shoes. And, the single layer of leather should improve sweat wicking and breathability. I’ll update this section if this is not the case!
This is my only concern with the pair I have. The leather is quite soft and I can see that I’ll probably get a toe bump at the front. I might employ the trusty Tieks moleskin method to prevent that part from poking out too much. In the photos below, you can get a sense of how soft the leather is from the second photo.
I would be curious to try other leathers like their Oregon Salmon (Audrey style) or this firmer vegetable tanned leather with a beautiful hand brush detail (Liz mule).
Update: I reached out on their website to inquire about the shoes I had, as the seller didn’t have details on the leather type. Faye herself responded in less than 24 hours! Turns out I have the Sandys in their now-retired Hazelnut leather, which part of a very drapey, non-waxed collection of leathers. The “updated” version of this leather is the Oregon Taupe, which is similar in color but thicker and waxy.
I haven’t yet interacted with their team, I will update this later if I do. Given that they also accept custom requests, I would imagine they have quality customer support and experience. Which is another thing – though they have many style and leather offerings, they also offer custom requests!
One example is the same Liz mule listed above. A customer requested a ballet pink version instead of the undyed leather, and voila. They don’t provide full customization (ie. measurements), but it’s pretty neat that you can customize the materials and also request a wider fit if needed.
Overall, I am a Sevilla Smith fan. While they certainly aren’t cheap, I would rather pay this price for an item that has been carefully designed and crafted from beginning to end by a single shoemaker. Especially when compared to some designer shoe brands that are 2x the price! If you’re still not sure (like I was), you can see some pop up on Poshmark every now and then.
If you’re looking into purchasing a pair, here is some information about the different leathers from Faye herself:
There are three “families” of leathers:
- Gloveskins which are thin, pliable, but still has some stiffness and structure.
- Koniecs/Tamponatos – These are veg tanned and hand rubbed. So they are thin, pretty rigid at first, but softens in just a few wears.
- Thick and waxy like Raiders, Volonatos, Oregons…(the Maine are similar just slightly thinner for all weather wear). These leathers are my favorite and I think most ideal for our shoes. They are thick, waxy, spongy and with lots of wax to keep it’s shape. It does appear more casual versus something crisp like the Tamponatos, but it wears really well as the wax also helps protect it against the elements.
Hope this helps – would love to hear if you’ve tried them as well!