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rilleau custom sandals

Rilleau Sandals are widely acknowledged to be the finest sandals available anywhere. Their fabrication adheres to principals derived after careful and lengthy research to determine the optimum comfort and durability in open footwear. Absolutely no shortcuts are taken in any aspect of their making and only the highest quality materials are selected to guarantee a product worthy of the reputation.


Sling Double style Rilleau sandals.

Every pair is crafted meticulously from a set of your foot tracings; and the unique contours, joint structure and arch form of each foot is carefully accommodated in the process. In addition to utilizing the finest leathers available, enormous care is given to the selection of the particular material used in every pair of Rilleau Sandals; not only matching the shade to the customer's preference, but making sure to choose the leathers that will perform properly on a functional basis. This attentiveness helps ensure a product that will attain the high standards we have so long maintained, and elevates the idea of "custom made" to a new level.

Sandal Gallery >>

As mentioned in our History section, Roger's talent as innovator was well applied to his interests in the leather medium; and with Peggy's collaborative input, he applied ingenuity and knowledge of anatomy to improve on then current sandal designs. Lengthy efforts, including long consultations with foot doctors in New York and Boston led to the development of rilleau sling sandal "The Sling" …a sandal design that allows the foot to move in its most natural, unconfined state and yet secures to the foot as to follow its every movement. The original sling sandal consisted of a toe ring, a solid strap over the instep, and a simple but highly effective "sling" strap spiraling the ankle. The straps were placed very specifically to avoid confining all the major articulating joints of the foot to avoid constriction and irritation of these important structural components.

Since 1955, when it was developed, "The Sling" variations have been the mainstay of the designs offered at Rilleau Leather. It has been widely imitated in this country and in Europe and is, in many ways, an unimprovable design.

The soles of the Rilleau Sandal act as a naturally formed cushion to absorb the shock that artificial surfaces present to the body's frame. Construction consists of a firm leather bottom piece that is soaked, formed and dried to the specifications of the individual foot. This then is adhered and nailed to an oiled leather upper sole, and this lamination and form serves as a spring-like platform to add buoyancy to the walk. An optional rubber sole may be added to offer increased cushion and traction. Also, since each pair is made to the needs of the individual foot, certain orthopedic requirements such as arch supports, lifts and pads can be accommodated. Our ordering information (below) and our Materials and Finishing page will provide additional content about our sandals. Please also see our Common Questions on Sandals page.

Although Rilleau Sandals are guaranteed unconditionally for one year, with nominal care these sandals will literally last a lifetime.  

Click to see Sandal Ordering Information (click again to close)

In choosing the perfect sandal for your all-important feet, there are three choices to entertain:

  1. The strapping style or design
  2. The color of the leather
  3. The choice of either the leather or the rubber undersole

Sandal Strapping Primer:

In choosing the strap design, there are three basic styles:

  1. The Rilleau Sling variations
  2. The Grecian variations
  3. The Modified Grecian Toe.

The Rilleau Sling styles are far and away the most comfortable of all options. The placement of the straps holds the foot very securely but simultaneously avoids all the major articulating joints of the foot. This creates a wonderful balance of security and freedom.the sandal following closely all the movements of the foot and yet the sensation that you are barefoot. In fact the highest compliment we take is when customers remark that you don't even notice that you have them on!

To adjust the strap tension on the Sling style sandals, one follows the simple Adjustment Procedure that accompanies each finished pair and secures the strap tension with the special tacks provided. (You will also find an attachment on this web site that is a short video clip of the fitting process.) After 7-10 days, the straps will loosen and want a tightening and sometimes will want one more tightening sometime in the upcoming year. At this point, the straps will have reached maximum stretch and need no further adjustment. For any who prefer not to fuss with the adjustment process, your local shoemaker is more than up to the task.

sandal with buckle

Sling Separate Double with buckle.

In addition to the sling variations listed above, we now offer a version that does not require the adjustment and tightening procedures mentioned. This variation has one continuous strap that laces between the soles and the slack is taken up with a buckle. It is available only in the "Separate Double" style and will be found in the Gallery. This approach requires the addition of a third sole to allow easy movement of the straps in adjustment. Because of the greatly increased construction time and added materials, this easy to adjust variation is proportionately more expensive.

Over the forty plus years that I have been making sandals, the issue of toe rings or toe thongs has come up countless times. It is not uncommon to hear a customer say "I just can't wear anything between my toes!" From my long experience what I find is that almost invariably, people's aversion to something between their toes is for one of two reasons.either they have never worn footwear with toe thongs or rings and just think it will be a bother, or they have had such footwear but it was improperly made. So unless a customer is firm in their opinion, I encourage them to experience what a properly made.custom made sandal with a toe piece can do. The importance of the toe ring is that it keeps the front aspect of the sandal closely following the foot movement and does so in a very unobtrusive way. I also offer to remove either toe rings or thongs at no cost if the customer decides after wearing them, they prefer the sandal without.

There is some difference between toe thongs and toe rings beside the way they look. All other things equal, a toe ring is the more functional device in keeping the foot and sandal moving together, and it accomplishes its task without being tight to the toe.rather floats loosely around the shaft of the toe and comes into play as the big toe activates to initiate each stride. Toe thongs do help keep the front of sandal and foot together as well, but may take some break-in time to get 100% comfy..

These are based on ancient Grecian style sandals. These were traditionally made with the classic thong, but are offered without the thong for those who don't like something between the toes. These have one long strap to adjust the fit and these are secured with special tacks provided as with the Sling Variations..

This design is more involved to construct and therefore more costly to make. This style sandal is a bit more confining than the Sling approach, but it is admittedly easier to adjust the strap tension. This style employs one long continuous strap that laces and slides between the soles to adjust the tension and is then secured by a buckle near the ankle.

This is rather self explanatory. We at Rilleau Leather use vegetable tanned cowhide for the upper soles and straps of the sandals. The colors or tones of leather are as follows: Light Brown; Medium Brown; Dark Brown; Mahogany; and Black

Available Colors:
light brown medium brown dark brown mahogany black
Light Brown Medium Brown Dark Brown Mahogany Black
These colors represent scans of actual leather samples. Because of variations in computer monitors, platforms, browsers, and color spaces, these should not be regarded as absolute color references, but only as a relative indication of color varieties.

The third choice regarding your custom sandals addresses the undersurface of the sandal sole. As described in the introduction to our sandals, the construction of the soles consists of a neatsfoot treated belting leather upper sole which is formed sandal sole and adhered and glued to a firm soling leather that has been wet formed to the specifics of the individual foot. This lamination gives a nice spring-like, shock absorbing footbed upon which to walk. An alternative option to this approach is the addition of a third sole on the underside…a Vibram rubber soling material. This accomplishes two things: It offers more traction…the classic leather undersole does actually wear longer than the synthetic, but is admittedly slippery under the right circumstances. The other that the Vibram provides is a more cushioned surface to absorb the heelfall on hard surfaces. Another option adds just a heel of the Vibram and leaves the rest of the sole in leather. The thickness of the Vibram heel is 3/16" .

If and when the time comes, either the leather or the Vibram soles can be replaced. Prices for each of these options can be found on the ordering page.

Foot Tracing Procedure

Click here for foot tracing example with instructions.


  • Use lightweight cardboard (file folder thickness or thereabout). A pencil or pen will do, but if available a "grease crayon" or china marker is better.
  • Have the cardboard on a smooth, firm surface. Trace one foot at a time, keeping about two thirds of the weight on the foot being traced. Having someone else do the tracing makes it easier, especially around the heel.


  • Keeping the pencil or crayon as straight up and down as possible, trace the outline of the foot. Don't trace between the toes, but do trace a line between the big and second toe as far into the crotch as you can. Please be extra careful when tracing around the heel to keep the pen straight up and down, especially if you're doing it yourself.
  • Then trace a line as deeply under the arch as you can, from the base of the big toe going back toward the heel (this is where a crayon can give an easier line to read). The higher an arch one has, the greater the line will be "scooped" or arched.
  • Be sure to trace both feet.
  • You can refer to the sample tracing listed although of course feet will vary from the example given.

To Place an Order


  1. The strapping style
  2. The color
  3. The option of adding the Vibram soling (adds $50 to cost); or the Vibram rubber heel (adds $25 to the cost)

Write this information in the margin of the tracing board. Include address, phone numbers and e-mail if applicable.

* Make payment as listed in the "payment options" info, making sure to include shipping costs ($15 for each pair). If a money order is used as payment, it can be included in the ordering info and this can then be mailed to:


Although it would admittedly be quicker, the tracings can't be faxed to us, since that process can often distort dimensions.

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