CEO of bespoke London shoe-maker George Cleverley talks to Robb Report

The CEO of George Cleverley on shoemaking for the stars and the changing face of luxury

By Nick Scott 31/10/2018

Having moved to Hollywood in 2006, in order to service that primary nexus of the American film industry, George Glasgow Jr – CEO and Creative Director of London’s finest bespoke shoemaker George Cleverley – now divides his time between London and Los Angeles. As eternally affable as he is debonair and dapper, Glasgow is also unfailingly zealous when it comes to the family business and its extraordinary craft.

Has there been any major catalyst moment in your career path?

Yes – about 11 years ago. I was living in London, and I noticed something odd: that when it came to America – whether it was bespoke tailoring, banking, whatever – everyone was focussing on New York. I couldn’t understand why LA and San Francisco didn’t get the same love from all these brands and organisations. A friend of mine Michael Chow, of Mr Chow restaurants fame, had mentioned to me and my father that his LA outlet remains his most successful, profitable restaurant.

So I took the plunge and decided to go out to Los Angeles. At the time there was no Berluti, no John Lobb – and yet there is so much money there, and so many stylish people. Our client base doubled almost instantly. We’re now working with Dwayne Johnson, with my friend Jason Statham, and we’re working with Kenneth Branagh, designing an entirely new collection for Murder On The Orient Express. We’re also collaborating with the new Kingsman movie.

Did American operations expand from there?

Yes. Once we’d picked up some stuff in LA, we went up to San Francisco, and we’ve now got people like Tim Cook and Jony Ive at Apple, and we’ve got a lot of directors at Google. It was the moment I moved to California that I realised I was onto something. It’s just such an amazing luxury market. Now, a lot of brands have gone there and opened up.


Cleverley’s Churchill II shoe in black calf
Photo: Courtesy of George Cleverly

Did the move to US – and the West Coast in particular – impact Cleverley’s creative credentials?

Absolutely. We now make more Chelsea Boots, more loafers, dress shoes, slip-on boots – it doesn’t have to be black calf-skin Oxfords; it can be brown suede chukka boots, lizard-skin loafers, unlined suede loafers. It can be a whole variety of things, and California – particularly Los Angeles – is one of the biggest economies in the world and was, when we moved there, an as-yet untapped market. So that turned out to set everything in place, both as a company and for me as an individual.

Has the nature of luxury changed?

Massively. People used to see the word “luxury” as being synonymous with “expensive”, whereas over the last four to five years it’s become the case that an expensive price tag alone does not denote luxury. To my mind, nothing mass-produced can be deemed luxury, whatever the price tag. Made by hand, by craftsmen, in small quantities, harder to find, unique – that’s the new luxury. A business like Patek Phillipe is, as a business, so, so strong because of how they keep something like the 5711 unique and rare – they don’t flood the market.

Things being made for longevity is also important: it’s not enough to “break shoes in” – they should become like your old friends. When you’ve had a pair a long time that are so comfortable, you’re so used to them, you should hate the idea of ever parting with them.


Jason Statham, wearing Cleverley bespoke shoes, talks to director David Leitch on the set of forthcoming action movie Hobbs & Shaw

In what situations do you get your best creative ideas?

I find that I get my best ideas when I’m working out, or doing a spin class. Even when it came to the speech for my recent wedding, I put it together entirely – including rehearsals – during spin classes. It’s the same with work: whenever I’m thinking about a new trip, a new trunk show, a new talk, a new style, a new range, I don’t know why but I find that going for it on the bike makes ideas pop into my head – to the point where I can’t wait for the class to finish so I can jot down everything I’ve been thinking about.

What are the common misunderstandings about bespoke shoemaking?

These shoes take nearly 100 man hours to make, with five different highly-skilled craftsmen involved. Particularly in the modern era when everyone wants everything in ten minutes, it can be hard to explain that they’re not made by machine – they’re made by hand. The drying out process alone takes a week – there are English and Italian factories (I won’t name them) who dry out a shoe, after its making, in the space of 15 seconds. It takes us a week, because we leave each shoe to dry in its natural environment.

This makes the stitches more robust; it allows the shoe to mould around the last in the correct way at its own pace. Intense heat for the sake of getting it done so that you can shove the next shoe onto the last just isn’t conducive to durability, to quality.

Has the Hollywood involvement boosted Cleverley’s profile?

In a big way. Cleverley has a historical relationship with Hollywood – we made shoes for Humphrey Bogart, Carey Grant, Fred Astaire. A lot of luxury brands pride themselves on their past, and we’re fortunate to have an incredible past, but probably a better present and future because of the people we’re attracting. The Tinseltown connection started off with mostly English guys such as Jason, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth. Then, organically, it grew – Jason bought Silvester Stallone in seven or eight years ago, and he’s now probably our biggest and best customer in Hollywood.

Is the Hollywood contingent more ‘outré’ when creating footwear with you?

When people think of Hollywood they think Oxford brogues and so on, but we’re getting requests for stuff like suede boots in oxblood calf – all sorts of combinations. These are guys who, when they’re jumping out of aeroplanes, want to jump out of aeroplanes looking good. Then you get things like Kingsman – a secret service, double-o agent kind of aesthetic and so on – and those guys want to look sophisticatedly British.

Do the creative forces in the costume departments appreciate the time-frames required with bespoke shoes?

Increasingly. The guys working on Kingsman: The Secret Service started preparing wardrobe nine months before the movie started shooting. The costume designers are now well-educated in the bespoke/handmade world and know the process has to start early. It’s wonderful that we’re getting actors like Kenneth Branagh now starting to say: “I want to wear Cleverley in this.” We’re always confident we can create and deliver the look they want – we just need ample time for preparation. Which is good on both sides.

Why are actors so keen to wear stunning foot-wear on-screen?

Some actors do a huge amount of research into their characters and how they want them perceived. They’ll look at hundreds of different styles and put together a look they feel is appropriate for thatcharacter, thatmovie. Daniel Day-Lewis came in a year-and-a-half before he began filming Phantom Thread to start preparing his look, and brought along the director Paul Thomas Anderson and the costume designer Mark Bridges – 18 months before filming! We sat down and examined looks, styles, how things could be made, how they would look and fit. we worked with Sir Daniel Day-Lewis on Phantom Thread making all of his shoes for the film – in which my father George Glasgow Sr, the company chairman, incidentally, played Day-Lewis’s character’s advisor.

Does all this diligence come across in the final cut?

It won Oscar for Best Costume Design – how can that be surprising given how much work they did, how much effort they put up front, and how the costume harmonises with the whole look of the film, the Bristol car and so on? You just think, “Well, is he putting in the same attention to detail with kitchens that appear in the movie? With the bed linen? How far do these guys go?” And then you see the fruits of all this meticulous effort on the big screen, and… Well…

What’s the most outlandish commission you’ve been approached with?

One guy, a non-celebrity client, asked us to make an empty compartment within a removeable heel that clicked into place – which we obviously refused to do. We made a shoe with a quick-release spring making a knife pop out of it for the first Kingsman movie. And we also made a pair of red alligator-skin clogs for a chef in San Francisco – he strolls around the kitchen in those while preparing filet mignon, and they’re his pride and joy.

What are your favourite luxury items?

Shoes and watches are timeless and can be passed down the generations. One customer told my father that one of this pairs of shoes had lasted longer than three of his marriages. Certain brands and styles of wristwatches are iconic and timeless – the likes of Rolex and Patek Phillipe, whilst they bring out new versions and new models, icons like the Nautilus go back years: colours and other details might change but the styles, as with my shoes, remain basically the same.

Other personal favourites for me are cufflinks – I don’t have many but those I do own are important to me: notably a pair of 18-carat boxing glove ones given to me by Sylvester Stallone; I got married last week, and my wife gave me another pair from Boodles – hand-carved and engraved with the date – so they’re obviously previous to me too. I also have a pair from Harry Winston with moving dials on them.

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Escape from the Ordinary

Ponant, the luxury cruise line known for its meticulously planned itineraries and high-end service, ups the ante on their upcoming European Journeys that promise an unrivalled exploration of the Mediterranean.

By Robb Report Team 19/02/2024

Not all cruises are created equally. Ponant, the luxury cruise line known for its meticulously planned itineraries and high-end service, ups the ante on their upcoming European Journeys that promise an unrivalled exploration of the Mediterranean. From the stunning Amalfi Coast to the pristine Greek Islands, the narrow Corinth Canal to the picturesque Dalmatian coast, historic Istanbul and beguiling Malaga, each destination is a unique adventure waiting to be unravelled. With Ponant, these aren’t just locations on a map; they’re experiences that come alive with the intimate knowledge and insight that their expert guides provide.

Ponant’s luxury cruises are renowned for their individuality, with no two journeys the same. This is not by chance. Itineraries are scrupulously designed to ensure that each passenger is left with a feeling of having embarked on a journey unlike any other.

Athens-Venise. Photograph by N.Matheus. ©PONANT

In 2025, their fleet will set sail for a combined 56 departures from March to October, exploring the dreamy locales of Greece and the Greek Islands, Malta, Italy (including Venice and Sicily), Croatia, France, Turkey, Spain and Portugal. These European Journeys offer an intimate encounter with the Mediterranean, its people and culture. As you cruise in luxury, you’ll dive deep into the heart of each destination, exploring historic sites, engaging with locals, sampling scrumptious cuisine and soaking in the vibrant atmospheres.

The company’s small, sustainable ships, which can accommodate from as few as 32 to 264 guests, have the exclusive ability to sail into ports inaccessible to larger cruise liners, affording privileged entry into some of the world’s most treasured alcoves. Picture sailing under London’s iconic Tower Bridge, crossing the Corinth Canal, or disembarking directly onto the sidewalk during ports of call in culturally rich cities like Lisbon, Barcelona, Nice and Venice, among others.

Photo by Tamar Sarkissian. ©PONANT

This singular closeness is further enriched by destination experts who unravel the tapestry of each locale’s history and traditions.

Onboard their luxurious ships, every guest is a VIP and treated to refined service and amenities akin to sailing on a private yacht. Whether at sea or ashore, their destination experts guarantee a fascinating experience, immersing you in the rich cultural and historical diversity of each region.

Indulge in the finest gastronomy at sea, inspired by none other than gastronomic virtuoso and Ponant partner, Alain Ducasse. Each voyage offers an expertly crafted dining experience, from a-la-carte meals with perfectly matched wines by the onboard Sommelier at dinner and lunch, to a French-inspired buffet breakfast, featuring all the favourite pastries, fresh bread and quality produce.

Chef Mickael Legrand. Photograph by NickRains. ©PONANT

For a more intimate discovery, consider Le Ponant, with its 16 high-class staterooms and suites—perfect for private charter—sailing eight exclusive routes between Greece and Croatia, offering guests unparalleled experiences both onboard and ashore. Ponant’s commitment to crafting unforgettable experiences extends beyond itineraries. Aboard their ships, the luxury is in every detail. Unwind in opulent cabins and suites, each offering private balconies and breathtaking views of the azure water and destinations beyond.

Ponant’s upcoming European Journeys are more than just cruises—they’re your passport to a world of cultural immersion, historical exploration, and unrivalled luxury. Don’t miss this opportunity to embark on the voyage of a lifetime: the Mediterranean is calling.

To book European 2025 sailings visit au.ponant.com; call 1300 737 178 (AU) or 0800 767 018 (NZ) or contact your preferred travel agent.

 

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Saint Laurent Just Opened a New Bookstore in Paris. Here’s a Look Inside.

The chic new outpost is located on the city’s arty Left Bank.

By Rachel Cormack 14/02/2024

Saint Laurent is taking over even more of Paris.

The French fashion house, which only just opened an epic new flagship on Champs-Élysées, has launched a chic new bookstore on the Left Bank. Located in the 7th arrondissement, Saint Laurent Babylone is a mecca of art, music, literature, and, of course, fashion.

The new outpost is a tribute to the connection that Yves Saint Laurent and partner Pierre Bergé had to the Rue Babylone, according to Women’s Wear Daily. (In 1970, the pair moved to a 6,500-square-foot duplex on the street.) It is also inspired by the house’s original ready-to-wear boutique, Saint Laurent Rive Guache, which opened in the 6th arrondissement in 1966.

The exposed concrete in contrasted by sleek marble accents. SAINT LAURENT

With a minimalist, art gallery-like aesthetic, the space is anchored by a hefty marble bench and large black shelves. The raw, textured concrete on the walls is juxtaposed by a soft blue and white rug, a wooden Pierre Jeanneret desk, and sleek Donald Judd stools.

The wares within Saint Laurent Babylone are the most important part, of course. Curated by Saint Laurent’s creative director Anthony Vaccarello, the collection includes everything from photos by British artist Rose Finn-Kelcey to books published by Saint Laurent itself. Some tomes on offer are so rare that white gloves are required for handling.

The store also offers an enviable selection of records that are no longer being pressed. Highlights include Sade’s Promise, Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love, and the debut studio album of electronic band Kraftwerk.

Other notable items on the shelves include Leica cameras, chocolates made in collaboration with pastry chef François Daubinet, prints by Juergen Teller, and brass skull sculptures. You’ll also find an assortment of YSL merch, including pens, lighters, and cups.

To top it off, Saint Laurent Babylone will double as an event space, hosting live music sessions, DJ sets, book readings, and author signings over the coming months.

Saint Laurent’s latest endeavor isn’t exactly surprising. With Vaccarello at the helm, the Kering-owned fashion house has entered new cultural realms. Only last year, the label established a film production company and debuted its first movie at Cannes.

The space is fitted with a Pierre Jeanneret desk and Donald Judd stools.
SAINT LAURENT

Perhaps Saint Laurent film reels and movie posters will soon be available at Babylone, too.

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The Best Watches at the Grammys, From Maluma’s Jacob & Co. to Jon Batiste’s Vacheron Constantin

Music’s biggest names sported some outstanding watches on Sunday evening.

By Rachel Mccormack 08/02/2024

Weird yet wonderful watches punctuated this year’s Grammys.

The woman of the moment, Taylor Swift, who made history by winning Album of the Year for an unprecedented fourth time, wore an unconventional Lorraine Schwartz choker watch to the annual awards ceremony on Sunday night. That was just the tip of the horological iceberg, though.

Colombian singer-songwriter Maluma elevated a classic Dolce & Gabbana suit with a dazzling Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon and a pair of custom, diamond-encrusted Bose earbuds, while American musician Jon Batiste topped off a stylish Versace ensemble with a sleek Vacheron Constantin Overseas Tourbillon. Not to be outdone, rapper Busta Rhymes busted out a rare Audemars Piguet Royal Oak for the occasion.

There was more understated wrist candy on display, too, such as Jack Antonoff’s Cartier Tank LC and Noah Kahan’s Panerai Luminor Quaranta BiTempo.

For the rest of the best watches we saw on the Grammys 2024 red carpet, read on.

Maluma: Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon

Maluma busted out some truly spectacular bling for this year’s Grammys. The Colombian singer-songwriter paired a classic Dolce & Gabbana suit with a dazzling Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon and a pair of custom, diamond-encrusted Bose earbuds. The sculptural wrist candy sees a four-arm movement floating in front of a breathtaking dial adorned with no less than 257 rubies. For added pizzaz, the lugs of the 18-karat rose-gold case are invisibly set with 80 baguette-cut white diamonds. Limited to just nine examples, the rarity is priced at $1.5 million.

Asake: Hublot Big Bang Essential Grey

Nigerian singer-songwriter Asake may not have won the Grammy for Best African Music Performance for “Amapiano,” but did wear a winning Hublot Big Bang at Sunday’s proceedings. Released in 2023, the Essential Grey model is made purely of titanium for a sleek, uniform feel. The 42 mm timepiece was limited to just 100 pieces and cost $37,000 a pop.

John Legend: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding

Multihyphenate John Legend wore a legendary Audemars Piguet with silky Saint Laurent on Sunday evening. The self-winding Royal Oak in question features a 34 mm black ceramic case, a black grande tapisserie dial, and striking pink gold accents. The watchmaker’s signature is also displayed in gold under the sapphire crystal. The piece will set you back $81,000.

Jon Batiste: Vacheron Constantin Overseas Tourbillon

American musician Jon Batiste received four nominations but no wins at this year’s Grammys. The “Butterfly” singer can take solace in the fact that he looked ultra-sharp in Versace and Vacheron Constantin. A tribute to the spirit of travel, the Overseas Tourbillon features a 42.5 mm white-gold case, a bezel set with 60 baguette-cut diamonds, and a blue dial featuring a dazzling tourbillon cage inspired by the Maltese cross. Price upon request, naturally.

Fireboy DML: Cartier Santos

Fireboy DML’s outfit was straight fire on Sunday night. The Nigerian singer paired an MCM wool jacket with a Van Cleef & Arpels bracelet, several iced-out rings, and a sleek Cartier Santos. The timepiece features a steel case, a graduated blue dial with steel sword-shaped hands, and a seven-sided crown with synthetic faceted blue spinel.

Noah Kahan: Panerai Luminor Quaranta BiTempo

Best New Artist nominee Noah Kahan wore one of Panerai’s best new watches to Sunday’s festivities. The Luminor Quaranta BiTempo features a 40 mm polished steel case and a black dial with luminous numerals and hour markers, a date display at 3 o’clock, and a small seconds subdial at 9 o’clock. The timepiece can be yours for $14,000.

Busta Rhymes: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore

Legendary rapper Busta Rhymes busted out a chic Audemars Piguet for this year’s Grammys. The Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph in question is distinguished by a 42 mm rose-gold case and a matching pink méga tapisserie dial with an outer flange for the tachymeter scale. The face is fitted with three black subdials, large black numerals, and a black date display at 3 o’clock. You can expect to pay around $61,200 for the chronograph on the secondary market.

Jack Antonoff: Cartier Tank Louis Cartier

Producer of the year Jack Antonoff took to the red carpet with a stylish Cartier on his wrist. The Tank Louis Cartier in question appears to be a large 33.7 mm example that features an 18-carat rose-gold case, a silvered dial with black Roman numerals and blued steel hands, a beaded crown set with a sapphire cabochon, and a brown alligator strap. It’ll set you back $19,900.

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This 44-Foot Carbon-Fiber Speedboat Can Rocket to 177 KMPH

The new Mayla GT is available with a range of different powertrains, too.

By Rachel Cormack 03/02/2024

We knew the Mayla GT would be one of the most exciting boats at Boot Düsseldorf, but a deep dive into the specs shows it could be downright revolutionary.

The brainchild of German start-up Mayla, the 44-footer brings you the blistering performance of a speedboat and the luxe amenities of a motor yacht in one neat carbon-fiber package.

Inspired by the go-fast boats of the 1970s and ‘80s, the GT sports an angular, retro-futuristic body and the sleek lines of a rocket ship. Tipping the scales at just 4500 kilograms, the lightweight design features a deep-V hull with twin transversal steps and patented Petestep deflectors that help it slice through the waves with ease. In fact, Mayla says the deflectors decrease energy usage by up to 35 percent while ensuring a more efficient planing.

The range-topping GT can reach 185 kph. MAYLA

The GT is also capable of soaring at breakneck speeds, with the option of a gas, diesel, electric, or hybrid powertrain. The range-topping GTR-R model packs dual gas-powered engines that can churn out 3,100 hp for a top speed of more than 100 knots (185 kph). At the other, more sustainable end of the spectrum, the E-GT is fitted with an electric powertrain that can produce 2,200 horses for a max speed of 50 knots. The hybrid E-GTR pairs that same electric powertrain with a 294 kilowatt diesel engine for a top speed of 60 knots (111 km/h/69 mph). (The GT in the water at Boot sported two entry-level V8s good for 650 hp and a top speed of over 70 knots.)

The GT is suitable for more than just high-speed jaunts, of course. The multipurpose cockpit, which can accommodate up to eight passengers, features a sundeck with sliding loungers, a wet bar and BBQ, and a foldaway dining table for alfresco entertaining. Further toward the stern, a beach club sits atop a garage with an electric transom door.

The garage has an electric transom door. MAYLA

The GT is even fit for overnight stays. Below deck lies a cabin with a double bed, sofa, wardrobe, vanity, and en suite. You can also expect a high-tech entertainment system with TVs and premium audio.

As for price, the GT with the entry-level powertrain will cost between $2.7 million and $2.9, depending on the final configuration. (You can fine-tune the layout, hull color, and interiors, naturally.) Interested buyers can set up a sea trial with Mayla, with test-drives set to begin this spring in Europe.

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Red Centre

First Nations artist Shaun Daniel Allen joins forces with Chopard to create a timepiece inspired by the Australian landscape.

By Horacio Silva 29/01/2024

Shaun Daniel Allen does not look like your typical collaborator on a prestige watch. For one, Shal, as he prefers to be known (“There are many Shauns but only one Shal,” he explains), is more heavily tattooed than your average roadie. His youthful appearance, bad-boy ink and all, belies his 38 years and leads to a disconnect. 

He recounts being recognised on the street recently by a journalist, who, unable to remember his name, shouted out, “Chopard!” “I was with a friend,” Shal says, holding court in his apartment in Sydney’s inner city, “and he’s, like, ‘What the hell? Does that happen to you often?’”

Perhaps because of his body art, he reasons, “People don’t put me and Chopard together.” It’s not hard to understand the confusion, Shal adds; even he was taken aback when Chopard reached out to him about a potential collaboration a little more than a year ago. “When I first went in to see them, I was, like, I don’t know if I’m your guy. I’m not used to being in those rooms and having those conversations.”

He’ll have to adapt quickly to his new reality. Last month Chopard released Shal’s interpretation of the Swiss brand’s storied Alpine Eagle model, which in itself was a redo of the St. Moritz, the first watch creation by Karl-Friedrich Scheufele (now Co-President of Chopard) in the late 1970s. 

Previewed at Sydney’s About Time watch fair in September, to not insignificant interest, and officially known as the Alpine Eagle Sunburnt, the exclusive timepiece—issued in a limited edition of 20—arrives as a stainless steel 41 mm with a 60-hour power reserve and a burnt red dial that brings to mind the searing Outback sun. Its see-through caseback features one of Shal’s artworks painted on sapphire glass.

When the reputable Swiss luxury brand approached Shal, they already had the red dial—a nod to the rich ochre hues of the Australian soil at different times of the day and gradated so that the shades become darker around the edges—locked in as a lure for Australian customers.

Shal was charged with designing an artful caseback and collectible hand-painted sustainable wooden case. After presenting a handful of paintings, each with his signature abstract motifs that pertain to indigenous emblems, tattoos and music, both parties landed on a serpentine image that evoked the coursing of rivers. “I have been painting a lot of water in this last body of work and the image we chose refers to the rivers at home,” he says, alluding to formative years spent at his grandfather’s, just outside of Casino.

It says a lot about Chopard, Shal points out, that they wanted to donate to a charity of his choosing. “Like everything else on this project,” he explains, “they were open to listening and taking new ideas on board and it actually felt like a collaboration, like they weren’t steering me into any corner.”

In another nice touch, a portion of the proceeds from sales of the watch will go to funding programs of the Ngunya Jarjum Aboriginal Corporation—an organisation, established in 1995 by Bundjalung elders, whose work Shal saw firsthand after the 2022 eastern Australia flood disasters ravaged their area. “Seeing Ngunya Jarjum suffer from the floods,” he says, “and knowing how much they do for the community on Bundjalung Country was heartbreaking. I want to see Bundjalung families thriving and supported.”

So what’s it been like for this booster of Australian waterways to be swimming in the luxury end of the pool? “I’ve done a few things with brands,” he offers, referring to the Louis Vuitton project earlier this year at an art gallery in Brisbane, “but nothing on this scale. It’s definitely fancier than I’m used to but I’m not complaining.” Neither are watch aficionados.

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