We are committed to producing quality handmade shoes that in many cases, they can be worn for years, and sometimes, decades, which makes them a much more practical choice over your lifetime. Let’s say goodbye to the shoes which are too small or too big to pinch your feet. Say goodbye to the lining that isn’t breathable enough, insoles that aren’t soft enough, materials that aren’t strong enough, and designs that aren’t individual enough.

We produce handmade shoes made from genuine leather from the inside out, or other breathable, soft and sturdy materials, which can give you everything you lack right now, making it possible for you to finally be happy with the shoes you’re wearing. Finding a good pair of quality handmade shoes sold here at Zlay.com is the perfect way to save money and stay stylish at the same time.


In terms of materials, the leather used in handmade shoes is generally cowhide or horsehide for the upper and pigskin for the lining. These are made from genuine leather, and you can understand when you receive the shoes, as it gives the shoe a unique grain and an ultra-soft feel.


We will use calf hides, partly from the back of the calf, which is essentially the strongest part of the hide. Unusually, we will take hides with a bovine vein grain, which is richer in the bull's vein grain and is stronger and more muscular when treated. In order to give the leather a more textured feel, it is tanned with wood and iron tools to retain more of the leather's natural irregular grain and coarse fibres, which are then unevenly stained with vegetable dyes, so that no two pairs of shoes are the same.


Only 68% of the entire hide can be used, the belly, face, feet, and even the neck are discarded because the slackness of the fibers does not meet our standards.

Vegetable-tanned hides are tanned using tanning acids extracted from the chestnut tree and softened by vegetable oil waxes, a traditional method of tanning leather to ensure a soft, sticky feel and matte finish, but difficult to produce in quantity. The horsehides are finally placed in a drum, where they are tumbled at a high temperature to firm up the hide and bring out the grain and make it softer.


The first layer of the insole is a 2.0mm thick, high-quality pigskin. The rich pores of the pigskin will be great for breathability; the rough leather fibers increase the friction of walking and make the shoe snugger to the foot. Underneath the pigskin is a special elastic material and activated charcoal. The special elastic material has an ideal softness and pressure resistance factor, and the small black dots are specially added activated charcoal, which absorbs moisture and dehumidifies. In the middle of these two layers is a pressure-reducing pad made of activated rubber, which allows the heel to be cushioned from the force.



The first layer of leather embryo tanned leather with vegetable tanning material, so some people also commonly known as tree plaster leather, in the leather kneading process without the use of metal tanning agent, generally this type of leather hard and durable, absorbent, after the treatment will show the lustre, its process the best.

Step 1: Pre Tanning

First, the hides have to be prepped. So we spend a couple of days rehydrating the hides and removing the hair. The whole hide is cut into two pieces called sides.

Step 2: Tanning 

vegetable tanning leather

The split hides are then put into large vats filled with natural tannins. Some of these natural tannins include tree bark. The hides spend a couple of weeks soaking in this tanning liquor and must be frequently tended to in order to ensure full absorption. The hides are then removed, excess moisture is taken out and they are shaved to the desired thickness (from the backside).

For vegetable-tanned leather that isn’t dyed, this is nearing the end of the road. That type of veg tan leather has a pale almost pinkish color to it. But dyed veg tan leather is further dyed to create the rich color and character that makes the leather so unique.

Step 3: Dyeing, Hot Stuffing, Drying

drum dyeing vegetable-tanned leather

The tanned hides arrive at this step as a blank canvas and are ready to be infused with rich color and character. The hides are dyed in enormous drums that look something like a wine barrel on steroids that rotates in the air.The leather may then be hot stuffed, which is a special process that literally stuffs the leather hide to its core with waxes and tallows that give it a rich color and make it more durable.After that, the hides are dried and staked. Staking is a process that softens up the leather just a bit.

Step 4: Finishing the Leather

In this stage, the hides are sprayed another time with waxes and a sealant for protection. 

This traditional method of tanning leather can better protect the natural characteristics of the leather. And the leather tumbled at a higher temperature will make the grain more visible and the surface tighter and softer.




We will select leather of different colors and qualities, discarding those with more scratches. The shoe uppers are cut from selected hides that are much softer than the soles, and then pressed to a uniform thickness. The most suitable leather is selected according to the design.In order to keep leather waste to a minimum, the uppers are carefully cut by a skilled craftsman.


Depending on the style, we will make the cut marks on the leather.


Each leather comes with its own grain and pores, which means that each pair of shoes has a unique character.First, the tip, vamp, quarter and tongue are cut. The edges of the uppers are shaved in order to prevent a thick layer from forming where they overlap or fold. To reinforce the uppers, a piece of the doubler is glued to the leather upper from the inside before the tip is stitched to the vamp.


Later, the lining is sewn together and stitched to the quarters, once done the eyelets are applied from the inside. Finally, the vamp and the quarters are stitched together, resulting in the finished upper.


Assembly starts by pulling the uppers over the last and tacking with nails; a canvas lip band of the sole is attached to the uppers (except for the heel area). The upper leather is tacked to the last and a few temporary tacks are applied to the front, before the upper edges are trimmed. The Goodyear Welt is sewn to the upper leather, through the rib on the sole; a wooden shank is added for strength and stability, and cork filling is put between the inner and outsole, to provide some cushioning for the foot.

Next, the outer sole is cemented to the rest of the shoe under high pressure; the sole is attached by adhesive and then shaped to fit the rest of the shoe. After this the thread is stitched to attach the upper to the sole. This can mean stitching through leather thicknesses of up to 2cms in order to hold the materials firmly together. Mass produced shoes are sewn by machine, but our handmade shoes are sewn by hand.


Once the above work has been completed, the shoe making professionals will carry out the final edge polishing and removal of the glue dots on the shoes that have been largely shaped.Hot vibrating irons are used to pound the edge of the sole, to give a hard, rounded, smooth and polished surface; the leather heel is nailed to the sole and the sole receives its final trimming. At this stage, the shoe construction is almost complete, but a number of finishing operations remain. The uppers and the welt are cleaned and polished; the soles are polished with wax and the last is taken out of the shoe.


After the above work, we come to the last and most important step, which requires the inspiration and skill of the designer. They carry out the most important hand-destressed and dyeing steps for the shoe shaping. Then after a final inspection, the shoes are wrapped, boxed and shipped to our customers.



In 1790, an Englishman named Thomas Saint adapted the first sewing machine dedicated to leather processing; Sir Mark Browler, who was chief engineer at the Port of New York, invented a press, thus enabling the mechanical operation of sewing the upper to the sole of a shoe with a metal needle. This new type of shoemaking machinery has, in a sense, hindered the development of traditional handmade bespoke shoes, but handmade shoes have not been buried on the European continent because of the invention of new machinery; on the contrary, they are much in demand in Europe today due to the contemporary consumer mentality of personalisation.

At present, the production of handmade shoes is mainly concentrated in European countries such as Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, especially in Italy, the "Shoe Capital of the World". Italy, the shoe capital of the world, has a long history of hand-made shoes, thanks to the attention paid to the preservation and transmission of its national culture and traditional craftsmanship, and the establishment of a comprehensive system for the training of personnel, technological research and development, material innovation and product sales. With the development of the times, Italy has developed its own unique style by combining with its own materials, technology and machinery, and has set up special schools to train highly skilled shoemakers.

Made-to-order prices from many retailers range, on average, from $700 to $2,500. The final price will be determined by choice of style, leather. While truly exceptional bespoke shoemakers such as Gaziano Girling may sometimes charge more. And each shoe takes 50 hours and three fitting appointments to make. Prices for the bespoke models range from $6,500 to $10,000. In the U.S., they’re available only at the John Lobb boutique on Madison Avenue.

Italy produces around 205 million pairs of shoes a year. It is known for its small production crews that turn out designer shoes for Italian fashions. Designers here often specialize in women's and men's high-end shoes for retail worldwide. If you're trying to find expensive bespoke shoes in Italy, head to Milan, where there are many historic shoemaking workshops.

But the rise of the handmade shoe and boot customization in China came around 2000 when the Japanese influenced the start of men's shoe customization in Shanghai, and by 2005 there were more and more people accepting handmade shoes and boots in Beijing and Shanghai, and then later Guangzhou and Wenzhou also started to make handmade custom shoes, which were mostly personal and small workshops in terms of production scale. By around 2010, some of China's leading shoe companies began to enter the high-end custom-made shoe and boot market, with handmade shoes and boots being the main focus. With Shanghai GUOXUE shoes and lasts as the representative of the China senior custom-made handmade shoes and boots, the BESPOKEFUN brand was founded, combining online and offline, from the independent design of shoe lasts, to the hand-painted shoe and boot styles, and then hand-made into shoes.

Not only that but Japan and China are considered the best in Asia for artisan shoemakers. The highest concentration of bespoke shoemakers are in these two countries and they are capable of very, very fine top quality work. Many Chinese learned their craft from the Italians and the British and then took their skills home to start their own businesses.

Compared to European bespoke shoes, which have a hundred-year history, Chinese bespoke shoes have only just begun. And Italy has the infrastructure to make the best shoes because the best leathers are available and the machines provide the best finishing. Until now, no other country could touch this. Because of the high cost of labor, Italy is outsourcing to China, which is now the largest shoe manufacturer in the world. Much of the technology from Italy has been exported to China and they are now catching up fast. The main suppliers of footwear to the EU are China (almost 50% of all imports), and Vietnam (14% of the total value of imports).

However, customer resources are yet to be developed, the team-building of talents for haute couture is not professional enough, and the concept of customization is vague or even used indiscriminately, which are all problems that exist in Chinese customization at present. Because of this, handmade shoes from China focus more on the combination of traditional culture and original design, and the labour of shoemaking is relatively cheap. So it is possible to make products with better design and more affordable prices while ensuring the same quality.



1. Quality: We have very strict standards for handmade shoes, using selected high-quality genuine leather for our materials, and choosing teachers who have been making shoes for many years for their craftsmanship. Every pair of shoes goes through a rigorous inspection to ensure that they are sent to you to your satisfaction.

2. Price: Our handmade shoes are priced at under $400, which is a small profit. This is our strategy because our customers are the majority of people who are interested in handmade shoes. We hope more people to spend less money and wear better-handmade shoes.

3. Product: We focus on the original design, blending classic and fashion to create our own unique style. We advocate freedom and eclecticism, and some of our product designs are very retro, as we tend to find inspiration in nature and the past.

4. Not only do we protect the originality of our designers, we also respect the ideas of our consumers. As a handmade shoe manufacturer, if you have a more desired colour scheme to offer us, we will customize it specifically for you if we have enough materials available.



1. Our shoemaking experience is not as long as the famous Italian brands, we have not formed our own brand effectiveness and few people know about us.

2. Customizing personal lasts for each guest needs a large cost, and we are weak in this term for now.

3. To ensure quality, we will stick to traditional practices, and the nature of handmade shoes themselves means that we cannot mass produce.




  • Production Location

Our manufacture is located in Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province, China. Our shoe industry chain is adjacent to the industrial clusters, so all the materials, accessories, machinery, as well as skills of the workers can have advantages. So our cost control can be better.


  • Operation and Production

Flexibility Unlike a large enterprise production company, the large company may require a larger MOQ, and many of the customer’s requirements cannot be flexibly implemented, but our company represents the unique advantage of small and medium-sized companies. If you want ODM processing, your one-time starting quantity does not want to be too big, or you just want to try the production quality and reduce the quantity for the first time, we will be happy to achieve the requirements for you until you are satisfied.


  • Process of ODM Customization

Information gathering - Product planning - Determining styles - Confirming dimensions - Determining templates, industrial models - Pushing blocks - Typesetting - Accessories - Selecting leather - Cutting - Sewing - Shaping - Polishing - Colouring - Finishing inspection - Confirmation - Packaging - Shipping.


  • Quality Inspection

Our quality inspection type is self-inspection, of course, there are quality control departments to check. In this inspection process, there are three inspections: raw material inspection, production process inspection, and finished product inspection. The proportion of raw material inspection is 100% full inspection, and the inspection method is desktop inspection. 
In the production process of products, we will also carry out 100% full inspection on the products completed in the production process, and the unqualified products will be directly scrapped. The last test procedure is the full inspection of the finished product. The inspection standard of the finished product is based on the experience of the actor.


  • Extensive experience

We have been engaged in cross-border e-commerce trading activities for several years, and the annual sales and turnover are very considerable, which shows that our product is attractive to the market. Especially after the development of Internet foreign trade sales channels, our order volume has been endless, and we accept retail. Most of them are looking for our ODM customers. They have expressed their design requirements. We come to produce and process. Finally, a series of processes such as logistics and transportation has now formed a complete foreign trade sales system, so there is no need to worry about working with us on some trade issues.


If you are interested in our company, please contact us!