Florentine shoemaker, Stefano Bemer, started his company in 1983 “with a goal no less ambitious than creating the perfect Italian shoe.” Starting by repairing shoes, he eventually taught himself – along with workshops and shoemaking courses – the many techniques required to make fine handmade shoes, and ultimately mastered his own signature technique.

After his unfortunate passing in 2012, Tommaso Melani, whose family has owned a leather handbag business, in Florence, Italy (Firenze), based in a Monastery of Santa Croce since 1950, purchased Stefano Bemer, with a goal of maintaining what the founder had built, and further expanding the business around the world.

Over the summer, I had a chance to meet with Melani, at his company’s New York City flagship, located in a penthouse showroom in one of the most prestigious sections of the Upper East Side. During our meeting, Melani explained his philosophy on making top quality ready-made and bespoke Italian shoes dress of the finest quality and selling them to clients on a mostly bespoke basis. With an average price exceeding one thousand dollars, these shoes sit at the very top of the shoe market. Further, to give some context, there is a clothing store across the street that sells four thousand dollar blazers.

CEO Tommasso Melani’s Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph in rose gold with Stefano Bemer bespoke leather strap

Melani is an avid collector of high-end timepieces, and so naturally, he saw an opportunity when he went to buy a strap for one of his Audemars Piguet watches and could not find exactly what he wanted. And as you can see in the image (pictured above), he eventually found a solution: to use his company’s leather making know-how and access to the finest leathers, to create his own bespoke watch strap. From that, he realized that he could pair bespoke Italian leather straps with the shoes, belts, and other leather accessories they were already selling.

Even a detail such as the way the alligator skin is cut makes for a distinctive look

This is not the first time an Italian shoemaker has used their production capacity and know-how to produce exquisite handmade leather watch straps, with IWC/Santoni, but those are not quite the same as there are more customization options at Stefano Bemer, whereas the aforementioned straps were made for specific timepieces, and are not necessarily bespoke. Moreover, Stefano Bemer watch straps come in a wide variety of conservative styles as well as some more eclectic choices such as elephant (pictured top) or basketball pebble grain leather straps (pictured below).

A pair of basketball pebble grain leather Stefano Bemer dress boots with perfectly matched watch strap and bow tie

If you are looking for a handmade strap to perfectly match s pair of shoes/belt – or cannot find exactly what you are looking for – and want a totally custom Italian leather watch strap, I highly recommend you contact Stefano Bemer. The retail prices range from $290 to $490 and lead time is typically 5-7 weeks.

Stefano Bemer

23 East 67th Street

6th Floor

New York, NY 10065


Posted by:Jason Pitsch

Jason is the founder of Professional Watches and specializes in writing, product photography, and digital marketing.