Special Footwear: The fine art of stylish orthotics

Special Footwear: The fine art of stylish orthotics


According to the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, 75-80% of adults have some kind of foot problem. Whilst some of these may be temporary ailments, others need long-term treatment and even surgery. But how do you alleviate pain and correct the problem without resorting to cumbersome ‘sensible’ shoes? Special Footwear has worked on the solution for 56 years, providing custom-made shoes and boots, as well as insoles, at its New Cavendish Street shop.

“The shoes people get from hospital can be ugly, heavy and clumpy,” Anthony Andrews, founder of Special Footwear, explains. “The last thing you want is to look awful! We know people want modern styles, and there’s a big demand for it.

“Some customers even come over from Australia, America and Europe, because so few people do this work. When they leave with their new shoes, they tell us they’ve got their life back.”

Common complaints include bunions, dropped arches and hammertoe; older customers can also find walking more uncomfortable due to gradual tissue loss. “We put a special material in our insoles so customers aren’t in pain – it’s like walking on a cloud,” says Andrews, a member of the Guild of Master Craftsmen. He’s even prepared to offer home visits, and thinks nothing of travelling to Scotland to discuss a customer’s needs.

Special Footwear & Orthotics bespoke shop in London street with traditional signage

The shopfront on New Cavendish Street, London.

However, it’s not just everyday walking that can be improved here. With London’s running enthusiasts busy planning their marathon calendar for 2017, the gait analysis service at Special Footwear will appeal to those plagued by issues like the dreaded ‘runner’s knee’.

Whatever the problem, the key is to find a solution without compromising on style and personal taste. Whilst bespoke orthotics or insoles are a priority, customers have over 20,000 finishes to choose from, and the health benefits remain discrete. Hence why Special Footwear has served celebrities and royalty, and featured in the BBC’s Inside Harley Street documentary series last year.

You could opt for colourful leather or nubuck, but the more unusual choices such as stingray and ostrich are equally appealing. Your lifestyle is always taken into consideration, whether you need a golf shoe or you’d like a built-up heel added to your new pair of designer trainers. Don’t tell your shoe-addicted friends, but you can also shop here without having a foot complaint at all. In fact, with so many design options, plus the chance to explore the workshop and see what goes on behind the scenes, you might never get shoeaholics off the premises.

Another of the company’s specialities is theatrical footwear, supplying the perfect shoes for a period drama or the best boots for an actor to adopt their character’s limp. As for the most unusual theatrical request? “We did once make a shoe for a dog,” says Andrews. “We haven’t made an elephant’s shoe yet, but you never know…”

This, unquestionably, is the place where no footwear challenge is too complicated and no material is too obscure. “We can accommodate everybody. We always go with Plan A – there’s never a Plan B.”

For more information visit: www.specialfootwear.co.uk

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