So I ordered some custom-made shoes way back in July. I sent in my foot tracing and measurements. I was very excited that I might be on my way to getting some shoes that actually fit my feet because they would be made specially for me. I have since learned a lot about what custom-fit shoes really means.
My feet are not shoe-shaped. Shoes tend to taper at the toe end as if your big toe were longer than the others. My feet don't do that. They are more like duck feet. They widen outward toward the toe end. I have rarely had shoes that really fit the shape of my foot. I've either been in pain from the taper of the shoe hurting my outer toes or I have worn shoes many sizes too big to accommodate my feet or I have just worn sandals. So I had high hopes for custom-made shoes. They'd see my foot and have to make shoes to fit.
What I learned is that custom shoes are the same as shoes off the rack. They take the foot tracing and pick the shoe on the rack that is the length of your foot. If there isn't one, then they'll make a shoe the same length of your foot. Whether they make a shoe specially for your foot or choose one for you already made, the result is the same. They will use a last and materials that are shaped a certain way. No matter what, your foot will be expected to fit the shape of the shoe.
Worse, yet, if you send in a foot-tracing and then are sent a shoe that supposedly fits, it is very hard to convince them that it does not fit. They have your tracing! They have proof it fits.
I received my shoes. They were not custom-made. They insisted that their ready-made shoes would fit me and sent back the extra money I sent for a custom fit. I received very tiny shoes. I could not even put them on. I sent them back.
They stretched them on a machine and sent them back to me. The left shoe feels okay but the right shoe is too short. They said I could send them back again and they would make a custom shoe for me.
I thought about this for a while. I don't believe sending them back for a custom shoe would actually result in a better fit. Since this is what they consider a good fit, having my foot tracing and everything to go from, I do not believe I can get a better fit with a custom-made shoe. They will send me another short shoe that is too narrow for my toes, but this time they will have made them from scratch. They will have picked the materials and the last or pattern or whatever it is from their stock that matches my measurements best. It'll be the same shoe.
The shoes are beautiful leather boots. They are extremely comfortable as far as cushioning and flexibility. They are so nice-looking I could wear them with pants or skirts. They're probably the nicest-looking shoes I've ever owned. I will probably just keep them and wear them only to work. With some luck perhaps they will stretch out a little more over time. I had hoped I could hike in them but it's pretty obvious that I will not be able to. If the shoes do stretch out over time, perhaps months down the line I could hike in them.
It's disappointing, but a good learning lesson.
Meanwhile, I've revamped my tire sandals. I remade them from leather with laces. They actually look pretty good and are quite comfortable for walking around, as long as I wear socks anyway. I plan to try and make another pair with a hiking boot sole and maybe I can hike in those instead of these new boots. Or, I will look forward to a new shoe coming out from a company called Altera. They've been talking about these shoes for at least a year, maybe two. It looks like they're getting close to coming out with them. If they turn out like the pictures I have seen, they will truly be foot-shaped like my duck feet. I will be very happy to try a pair.