Hungary boasts a proud and long-standing shoemaking tradition, with classic shoes having been crafted by a plethora of small family-owned operations since the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In recent years, the rise of e-commerce, social media and message boards has brought along increased international interest in the remaining makers, who often provide a fantastic level of craftsmanship at a very competetive price point. One of the heirs of this tradition is Buday Shoes.
Buday Shoes in the making - uppers being lasted by hand. Leathers are sourced from well-known European tanneries, and their oak bark tanned leather soles are from German manufacturer Joh. Rendenbach.
Buday Shoes is a family business founded by Gabor Gyöngyösi in 2007. They operate from their shops on Margit körút 4 and Haris köz 2 in central Budapest, and employ a few artisan shoemakers who work hard to realise their fundamental shoemaking philosophy: to create unique handmade shoes – ‘something that cannot be copied’ – with great attention to detail, always with the ambition to make the best shoes in the world. The collections include both conservative models and more playful takes on the classics, often using unusual patterns and colourful leathers.
Sole with a pegged heel. 'We do the welting by hand, with two needles and two threads at the same time, from opposite sides. If one of the threads break, the other one is still there to hold to hold it all up perfectly - so the welt is stitched with double security. This is also true for the sole stitching.' says Daniel Gyöngyösi.
The bread and butter of the Hungarian makers has long been a distinctive type of shoe known to non-Hungarians as the Budapester (named Karlsbader in its native land): an open-laced, hefty, rounded style, often with ample broguing and multiple rows of hand-sewn goyser stitching. This style is loved by many, but being the Central European equivalent of a heavy British country brogue, it may not be fit for more formal occasions. Sleeker styles are of course being made as well, and as an example of this, Buday Shoes has several collections based on more elegant lasts – among them the London, Paris and Venice lasts.
A traditional Budapester style shoe made up in tan grain and smooth leather.
Contemporary style on a sleeker last. Notice the goyser stitching above the sole edge.
All Buday Shoes are hand welted. They use six different construction methods, but the two main categories are what they call English stitching – which is basically a hand sewn Goodyear construction – and Goyser stitching, which is a type of reverse welting process that is characterised by three spectacular looking rows of stitching above the sole edge.
Buday Shoes make both ready-to-wear and custom styles, and also offer a bespoke service where a personalised last is created according to the client’s measurements. A pair of test shoes are built on the last, which allows for adjustments to be made before the creation of the final pair. When the client takes delivery of his finished bespoke shoes, he can choose to either keep his personalised last, or to store it at the workshop for future use.
‘Making bespoke shoes is a risky and expensive process. The most important thing is precise measure-taking.’ says Daniel Gyöngyösi.
'I am always looking at shoes and considering new ideas. Once we have found something deserving to be made into a test shoe, we draw it by hand. Then our modeller creates a model. Following the new pattern, we make a test shoe. We "foot test" it and carry out the necessary adjustments. Based on this, we produce a small series. All in all, it takes about six months to develop a new style.' says Daniel Gyöngyösi.
Buday’s lastmakers have developed around 25 different lasts, but only 8-10 of them see regular use in the workshop. It has been a long-standing goal to reduce this number, but as customers often come up with new ideas, it has proven easier said than done. Most of Buday Shoes’s clients are not Hungarian, and Daniel says that they are proud to have customers from all over the world.
Tools of the trade at the Buday Shoes workshop.
Buday Shoes are happy to accept visitors to their shops at either Margit körút 4 or Haris köz 2, Budapest.