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Bertier Customs: Handmade, to a different dimension

Published: 9th Feb 2022
Author: Tony Dickson - S&V Editor

Jean-Laurent Teplitsky is a classically trained bespoke shoemaker who learnt his trade in ateliers and factories in France, Spain, Japan and England. After several apprenticeships at Corthay in Paris he decided to come home to create his own brand.

Shoemakers who know Jean Teplitsky genuflect when they mention his name. He, however, is quite humble.
What is the inspiration for your brand/styling/concept?
My inspiration is contemporary style integrated with classic techniques elevating the product to the highest level, while always trying to balance comfort, aesthetic and quality. 
We also draw inspiration from local players in other fields, making waves on the international luxury market.
A lot of what I am currently busy with is completely recreated Nike Air Jordans. We start with an authentic donor pair of shoes and remodel them from the ground up using the best materials and exacting techniques.
I am  currently working with several international and influential clients on bespoke pieces.
Do you sell via social media only or do you also supply retailers?
I have two exclusive retailers, one in Cape Town and one in Johannesburg, who showcase the work, but most clients are reached through social media and our online presence. 
If you don't currently supply retailers, would you consider doing so?
As mentioned above we currently have the two stores showcasing our product. Story in Cape town And |Yawa Africa in Sandton City.
How dependent are you on the tourist trade?
Our ready to wear shoes have up to now been very tourist dependent, but with the use of social media and online tools we have a growing reach.
Do you manufacture or source locally or do you import?
All bespoke sneakers are currently made by myself alone. The new ready-to-wear range we are currently developing will have the uppers made by a luxury handbag manufacturer and the lasting and finishing done in a partner factory with all the work being  overseen by myself.
All of our crocodile skins and ostrich hides are being sourced locally from local tanneries. Some of our linings and calf leather come from Europe, sole units are also sourced out of Italy
If you manufacture locally, are there any problems with availability of components and/or services, and what are they?
The big problem we have locally is the lack of materials produced for luxury goods, high quality rubber sole units, backing/reinforcing materials, calf leather and lining leathers are not available from local producers, but can be sourced through local agents.
It is difficult to find a factory in South Africa willing to do small moq orders, and even more difficult to find one that can produce the quality our clients expect. 
This is due to the lack of training facilities to produce craftsmen able to meet the exacting standards of the luxury shoe market. 
We were in talks with FLIC to start a technology and training centre to teach young shoemakers the skills of luxury high end shoemaking, but that fell flat when FLIC was dissolved. 
A pair of bespoke shoes takes anywhere from 30 - 100 hours to produce by hand by one person. We are hoping that with some funding we may be able to produce 50 + pairs per day by incorporating technology into the mix, while still maintaining the highest quality standard expected from a predominantly hand crafted pair of shoes. We prefer quality over quantity.
Do you need any assistance to grow your business, and if so, what and from who?
We would like to start a small training facility and micro factory, able to produce the quality we are only currently able to achieve 100% by hand.
Thus facilitating a lower price point and able to service small up and coming brands and designers wanting to enter the market.

There are several home grown brands now importing sneakers from Europe, who could quite easily produce the same quality if not better right here in South Africa, with the right training and guidance. 


All Bertier shoes are currently handmade by Jean Teplitsky. They range from classically formal to urban streetwear, with combinations of both.

This article s part of a series of articles that are published in S&V Footwear & Leather Goods Magazine

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