NAVYNEWS: Since when did you have a passion for shoes?
LUDWIG CRAMER KLETT: I wouldn’t necessarily call it a passion, but rather a love for good style, handcraftsmanship, and quality. Twenty years ago I bought my first pair of cordovan slippers from Ludwig Reiter as a young kid. They’re completely worn out but I still wear them.
NN: Did you have something similar to a ‘shoe education’?
LCK: The environment I grew up in bestowed me with a sense of tradition and appreciation for handcraftsmanship. For me handcraftsmanship is important in all facets of life, so naturally it’s also important for my shoes. My grandfather wore high quality footwear and so did my father. My sister just happens to be a classic shoemaker and has a master’s degree in shoe design. A love for quality is definitely something we learned growing up.
NN: How do you select your shoes?
LCK: I wouldn’t wear every shoe. I like the narrow designs, but they can’t be too flat in the front, that’s too fashionable for me, and not too round, that’s too conservative. Of course the Italians and the English are the best shoemakers. Italian shoes are more delicate on the foot and really have style.
NN: Did your shoe style change over the years?
LCK: Well, I did have a few faux pas moments…I bought myself a pair of Pradas in another lifetime that I didn’t end up wearing just because they seemed like a necessary fashion object. I also bought sneakers back then because everyone else did, but I didn’t wear them. I’ve finally made my peace with sneakers, and I even wear them sometimes. But I always feel more comfortable in leather shoes.
NN: Are you also this particular when it comes to clothing?
LCK: Yes and no. I don’t spend a few thousand Euros on a suit. Sure, you can do that, but I wouldn’t think of it. I have a great tailor in Berlin who mass-produces my clothes.
NN: What kind of style tips do you have for other men?
LCK: As a man you only have a small selection of shoes that you wear for many years. In this case, high quality is preferred especially for your feet.
NN: Which shoes go with a suit?
LCK: With a suit you, of course, have to wear elegant shoes with leather soles. Rubber soles are unacceptable!
NN: What do you prefer in the summer?
LCK: As soon as the temperatures rise I stop wearing socks, all the way to November. I actually don’t like them one bit.
NN: Aren’t you afraid you’ll ruin your expensive leather shoes with your bare feet? All men dread this and are afraid of chafing.
LCK: No I don’t. My shoes become even more worn down this way, and that’s alright. And my feet are fine. They don’t know any other way.
NN: Do you look at other men’s shoes? Does anything bother you in particular?
LCK: Of course. If someone is wearing ugly or overly worn out shoes I notice it immediately. Then I think he has no style. Of course, I know it’s difficult to judge someone based on their shoes. However, if I hire a manager who will represent me then it would be difficult if he didn’t share my appreciation for good shoes.
NN: And women? Do the same criteria hold true?
LCK: Bad shoes bother me just as much with women. Of course women want fashionable shoes that they can afford. But they should always be tasteful. Cheap style bothers me greatly when it comes to women.
NN: You’re half Swiss, lived and worked in Zurich for a long time, how would you judge the Swiss style on a range from 1 to 10?
LCK: The Swiss are of course super stylish. But I often find it’s too much of a good thing, too purposefully created.