A strange, cautionary tale of how to order bespoke shoes online

This rather long post is part rant, part complaint, and part in-depth report on the long, grueling, ridiculous process of ordering bespoke shoes in Indonesia.

I ordered my boat shoes on May 20, 2012.
I finally get the shoes I (sort of) wanted on January 28, 2013.

It took 8 months, and countless text/facebook/instant messages and quite a lot of phone calls that never gets through. Figuratively speaking, it took so long that if I were pregnant on May I would’ve already given birth by now, but fortunately I’m not pregnant. Ha!

Anyway, here’s a detailed rundown on what happened within the previous 8 months.

May 2012

I love, love boat shoes. You may call them deck shoes, too. I like how they’re tailored and casual at the same time, and you can dress up or dress down with them and still look neat and nice. They last longer than a pair of Toms, and look better than a pair of Crocs. Unfortunately the nice ones sold in stores in Indonesia are all in guys’ size (40 european and bigger) while my feet is a 38 1/2 european size (6 UK women’s, 8 US women’s). People. Can’t you see that a girl needs her quality boat shoes too?

So I’m stuck with 2 options, ordering online from overseas or ordering a custom one locally.

Sperry and Sebago makes really nice boat shoes, but I’m not looking forward to the astronomical shipment fees and added import taxes, since it’s likely that my order will exceed US$50 and therefore legible for import tax. No, I’m a cheapskate.So I resorted to ordering custom shoes online.

Enter the vendor. Let’s keep the vendor anonymous for his reputation’s sake. He sells custom shoes through Facebook. In his FB online shop, he has many albums of shoes from well known shoe brands that he can “replicate” to 99% likeness, at a fraction of the real cost. That’s what he claimed. I ordered a custom once with him in 2010 and it turned out well, so I thought, why not?

So I messaged him and sent him a picture from one of his FB albums. It’s a Sebago, something like this. And his version would only cost me $25 + $1.50 postage. SCORE. Ahh, Sebagos are so nice! (They cost $100+ though)

url(picture nabbed from lowyat.net)

I specifically told him “Hi pls make me this style in DARK RED and make all the laces WHITE in size 39 in genuine leather pls”. He replied: “Ok, once you transfer the cost, it will take 3 weeks and we’ll send the shoes to you.” I was so ecstatic because I’m about to have a genuine leather, Sebago deck shoes replica for $25!… NOT

June 2012

About 2-3 weeks has passed, and as promised, the shoe delivery arrived in the mail.

Wow, I was taken aback. Firstly, it’s BROWN, not RED as I ordered. Second, all the laces are also BROWN! I specifically said WHITE. Well the build quality was quite nice, though it’s not quite close to the real Sebago in terms of details and style. Anyway… I was so upset I didn’t take any pictures of the shoes, instead I texted the seller immediately:



And this is what I got in reply:


Vendor (in blue): Dude, that’s maroon, not brown. That’s the shade of maroon in GENUINE LEATHER. *facepalm emoticon*.
Amel (in white): But I sent u reference picture for color!

To make a long story short, the vendor agreed to have me send the shoe back (at my own cost!) and he will replace the laces with white, but there’s nothing I can do about the brown leather color, because he insisted that it’s RED. Ha! The next day, I mailed the shoes all the way back to Solo, where the vendor is located…

July 2012

A month has passed, and my replacement!shoes has not arrived. I was starting to get anxious. Did my delivery made it to Solo in time? Did he managed to fix the laces in time? So I shot another text message…


Translation: Where the hell is my shoes? U told me u will fix them! I want them naooo!1

Bummer! The text message was not delivered by the network! That could only mean, it’s a dead number. That’s quite normal in Indonesia because everyone except me because I have common sense changes their mobile phone number all the time without a care in the world… So i messaged the seller in FB. Twice. And no response. Then a few days later, the vendor wrote this in his FB wall:

Screen shot 2012-07-22 at 7.33.09 PM

Translation: Just info: Our shop’s Blackberry with the phone number 08*** **** **** is currently in repair. All orders have already been shipped to the customers. We apologize for not contacting you individually. Please message us for orders. We are open for orders this coming Tuesday.

Ah, I see. That’s quite a letdown, seeing that I’ve been trying to contact him for a few weeks now… also I think it’s not that hard to get another phone number/handset while the usual one is being repaired, what a lame excuse! Bummer! Such third world mentality… Anyway I better stop complaining now and go on with the story. So I decided to wait on good faith and hope my shoes will turn up eventually…

July 22, no news on my shoes… So I shot another message on his FB:

Screen shot 2012-07-27 at 11.08.17 AM

Amel: Please check your text, FB inbox, and your Blackberry messenger sir

Vendor: OK we’ve just gotten back online

Amel: I have been waiting quite awhile for your updates, please respond.

What kind of phone repair takes 3 weeks? If I were unable to use my phone and usual mobile number for more than 1 week, I would get super anxious like it’s the end of the world and lose my mind… but it turned out some people just would not care at all! Anyway, more waiting ensues…

August 2012

Lebaran (Eid) came and went. Still no shoes, or news. I’ve gotten sick and tired of waiting already… so I called his number(s). No reply. In desperation I shot a text… also a FB message. Alas, no reply!!! At this point I was quite sure my lovely red brown shoes deal has gone down the toilet (or sat forgotten in storage somewhere in Solo)


Translation: Dude it’s been super difficult to contact you, please take care of this matter professionally, I just wanted confirmation whether you’ve send my shoes or not.

September 2012

OMG, after a long wait, I finally got news! I sent a BlackBerry instant message (with the same content as above) and the vendor replied! I was so over the moon happy! It’s like hearing back from your favorite band or Hollywood actor or your unavailable but oh-so-adorable secret crush or whatever. The conversation went like this:

Me: Dude what happened to my shoes!!1 I thought you were gonna fix em and send em back to me?

Vendor: Sorry, I FORGOT about your order and my phone was dead for over a month maybe your order got lost and misplaced. My bad.

Me: Say whaaat?

Me: That’s not how you treat a customer! You promised 3 weeks delivery time didn’t you?

Vendor: Yes and I did delivered your shoes in 2 weeks’ time last time

Me: But you gave me the wrong shoe!!1 Now can you make it 2 weeks time this time? Can I trust you?

Vendor: OK I won’t be late again, we will work on your order ASAP

Me: Thank you. (Well you better get started soon, or I’m gonna go all RAGE!1 on you)

October 2012

No shoes. I almost gave up already so I think I didn’t bother texting the vendor.

November 2012



Me: Where is my shoesssssss! 2 weeks ago you said it will be done by now.

Me: I’ve been waiting since July. I’ve texted you 1000 times also. Please take care of this ASAP. You’re wasting my time.

Vendor: I’m terribly sorry but every time I checked, my workshop guy said that he’d forgotten to do your order (!!!) Now I feel bad for you

Me: (WELL YOU SHOULD!) Okay then please remind your workshop guy. Kthxbye

Vendor: Sure, it is only a minor fix anyway, I will remind him and let you know.

December 2012

Getting a little bit desperate here aren’t we… (I know it’s just $25 but it’s my right!)


Me: Where is my shoeeee (Starting to sound like a broken record now)

Me: Can I call your workshop guy myself? Can I get his number? It doesn’t seem to be working with you reminding him. It’s been going for months now. I’m sorry.

Vendor: It’s not yet done, he kept telling me he’s gonna do it soon, we apologize, please be patient for a little while longer.

Me: I’m gonna wait until the New Year, then you have two options: Refund my money, or send the shoe AS IS without any repairs. Thank you.

In retrospect, I sounded very much like a bitch… but I couldn’t help it… He had it coming!

January 2013

Finally, a progress towards my happy ending! On January 21 I texted the vendor for the 1000th time:

Me: Where is my shoeesss (exhausted tone) I want my shoes or my refund please…

Me: I have your address, name, bank details etc, I could sue you but let’s play nice…. If you can’t fix my shoes just return it AS IS and I will shut up and stop bothering you…

Vendor: Ah, I finally can update you. My workshop guy is working on your order. He damaged your shoe while repairing the laces (!!!) so he’s making you a new replacement pair now with white laces. Yay.

Me: After 100 excuses HOW CAN I TRUST YOU NOW? (spoken like a wife who’s been cheated on)

Vendor: It’s the truth! My workshop guy LIED to me. He kept telling me he forgot your order, because he won’t admit to me that he damaged the shoe and could not find the correct shade of leather to make a replacement. Now that we have the leather in stock, he’s finally doing your shoes. That’s the story.

Me: (After shaking my head in disbelief) Wow. I felt awful that I’ve been hassling you for like, forever, while in fact it’s your guy’s fault to blame. If so, then, please do replace my shoe with a new pair. And it doesn’t have to be the same exact shade of brown red.

Vendor: We have the same material, I will keep you updated and your shoe will be done over the weekend. I’m sorry for not updating you any sooner!

Me: Thank you for updating. Looking forward to my shoes now.  Kthxbye.

January 26: He texted me that my shoe is on the way. Wow. I am about to burst in tears of happiness…

January 28: My shoes has finally arrived. It’s not red, it might not be a Sebago, or even a replica, but it’s quite a looker, and a keeper…


It’s here!


At size 39 it’s a little too big, but I suppose they don’t do half sizes…

Verdict: I quite liked the shoes. It’s a nice shade of red brown, the leather is good quality, and it’s quite well made too. The only downside that it doesn’t have moc-toe stitching on the toe end like a real boat shoe should, and the vamp’s (upper surface that covers your foot) length is a bit too long for a boat shoe… Anyhow! It’s quite a steal for the price paid. I’m just not quite sure if 8 months is worth the wait…

Here’s how a real “moc-toe” front stitching should like. This is my favorite bargain find from a Brunswick goodwill shop, $13 brand new:


Now that I’m done with all that ordeal, I finally have a pair of “boat shoes!” Though I’m still left wanting for a pair of RED shoes. Actually it’s OK that I’ve got brown shoes instead of red ones, so I can keep saving for my next Dr. Martens in red!

This is what I’ll get if I have money to spare: 3-hole 1461 Dr. Martens in Cherry Red.

Yep, you can’t have enough brown shoes. They go with everything. I will end this post with my favorite pair of boots… in brown. It’s a Dr. Martens knockoff I found in Chatuchak for 600 THB.


These boots are made for walking, and kicking asses too…


If you’re stil reading this, well, I thank you for reading, and I’ll see you next rant. Enjoy!

5 thoughts on “A strange, cautionary tale of how to order bespoke shoes online

    • Yeah, it’s a very Indo thing not to be punctual etc… I wanted to name the seller but he makes a living selling the shoes so I couldn’t. Let karma do him in slowly. If he keeps treating customers like this he will definitely go out of business…

  1. Wow… what a drama!! But, can you share the agan’s name??? I like your shoes, even tho, yeah, you’re right, they dont have the front stitching… And the lace is not leather…

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