300 Years of Handmade Quality
For over 300 years Belgian Shoes have been made exclusively by hand, carefully and perfectly – with craftsmanship unique in the world of fashion.
The Finest hand workmanship and quality leather used to produce our shoes assure long and comfortable wear.
Mr. Henri Bendel
Founder of Belgian Shoes
Belgian Shoes, a New York City institution, showcases a variety of hand sewn,
hand turned loafers, manufactured in Izegem, Belgium, a historic centre of the nation’s shoe industry.
The nephew of Henri Bendel, the founder of the eponymous New York City department store, discovered the shoes on a trip to Belgium. When the Bendel’s department store was sold by the family in 1955, Bendel established the Belgian Shoes boutique at 60 West 56th Street before moving to the current address at 110 East 55th Street in 2001.
In 1979, Bendel met Georges Vanacker, an established luxury shoe manufacturer in Belgium. They decided to do business together and became equal partners with a simple handshake.
In 2019, Georges Vanacker became the sole proprietor of Belgian Shoes and entrusted his three daughters, Barbara, Vanessa and Sarah to run operations, manufacturing and sales. The Vanacker sisters are implementing a transfiguration of the brand through a boutique renovation, omnipresent media platform introduction, and streamlined shopping experience to create a customer centric approach to the business, all the while conserving the integrity and rarity of the brand.
Belgian Shoes are sold exclusively in their New York boutique and wholesale a limited selection with Nicholas Haslam in London. The signature styles; Mr. Casual and Midinette are a unique design of an unstructured loafer that is sewed inside out and then hand turned after completion to create the shoe that you see today. The key to shoes’ success is their indisputable comfort, which is achieved through their simple, hand-finished construction. Each insole is hand sewn, over a light filling of, “piano hair” by skilled craftswomen, who work out of their homes in the Belgian countryside. The signature bow in the vamp is the finishing touch, tied by a unique and qualified Belgian artisan. To ensure a proper fit, you are required to wear the shoe outdoors, in dry conditions, where it will mold to your foot. After molding, a rubber corrugated sole is to be applied to protect the leather from the elements and extend the life of the shoe.
Belgian Shoes come in both women and men’s, in the following styles for women – Midinette, Travelette, Juliette and the Elle. The men’s styles are – Mr. Casual, Traveler, Lui and the Henri. The shoes are available in 4 widths – narrow, medium, wide and +wide. They are available in a wide variety of colors in leather, embossed leather, wool – solid and yarn dyed patterns, velvet and linen. Custom orders are also available for specific colors, skins and fabric which take approximately 12 weeks to complete.
As early as the 1960s, the shoe was recognized for its comfort and quality which was quickly embraced by the high touch, high value client. There have been few changes to the offering since then. Over the years these shoes have developed a dedicated following from those who have become addicted to the glove like fit and flexible leather soles that make Belgian Shoes the ultimate in comfort and luxury. Their devoted international following is a direct reflection of the quality and craftsmanship of the product, but also a rite of passage. Frequently adorned from generation to generation – grandmother to mothers, father to son. Our lifelong customers continue to wear and uphold the Belgian Shoes tradition. They are the ideal leisure shoe, perfect for everyday use and can transcend from day to evening with both comfort and style.
To celebrate the art of craftsmanship Belgian Shoes has developed a collaboration with artist Eugene Constan to showcase his private collection of artwork in store.