In 1883, Sicilian shoemaker Salvatore “Sam” Maida set up shop in Houston, Texas, paving the way for the family-run sixth-generation business that is still going strong today. Maida’s classically stylish men’s shoes and boots are made using the same techniques and machinery as they were a century ago – though these are now combined with state-of-the-art technology and new designs that have evolved with the times. There are natty Derby and Oxford dress shoes, golf shoes, polo boots and casual Chelsea boots, but it’s the classic, beautifully made cowboy boots ($2,000-$6,000; more for exotic skins) that still set this brand apart.
Bespoke footwear is Maida’s speciality. Each commission begins with a consultation, usually over the phone, to discuss everything from the type and colour of leather – alligator, ostrich and snakeskin, as well as French calf leather sourced from Hermès-endorsed tanneries such as du Puy and d'Annonay – to embellishments, embroidery and tooled appliqués, as well as toe and heel styles. Requests range from hard-wearing and practical snake-bite-resistant boots (with Maida’s three-layer construction) to eveningwear showstoppers embroidered with initials, animals or jaunty toe medallions. Initials can be inlaid in gold or an array of vivid hues.
After design sketches and pricing have been discussed, the next step is an in-person meeting to measure the foot using 3D technology and then build a last for each foot that ensures a precise fit. Sole selection also takes place at this stage, with Goodyear welt and Blake among the most popular and practical options. The custom boots take an average of 65 hours to make. Women’s Western styles are also available.
Other popular commissions include the evening shoe ($1,200), aka the Prince Albert Slipper, a refined tuxedo shoe made of patent leather; classic chukkas ($1,800-$7,000); and spiked golf shoes in Derby, Oxford or Monk styles, with custom options including perforated patterns and colourful trims. Whatever the shoe style, the entire process typically takes between three and four months. Get ready to kick up your heels.