Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 16 June 2017

Tor boots in the making

Welcome back shoe fans! As some of you may have noticed England has been having a bit of a time of it recently, so it was wonderful to escape to the country this week, to get our Kickstarter filming under way.

We've been in the heart of the country, in the Peak District; home to Chatsworth House (think Downton Abbey and Hugh Bonneville) amongst other notable stately homes, some stunning landscape and some great people.

After a long drive up and a brief overnight pit stop in the stunning, but vertigo-challenging town of Matlock (it gives San Francisco a run for its money on the steepness front) ...we headed through the rolling hills...and got set up.

As you can see the machines were things of beauty...

We had a tight shooting schedule, which was made all the more difficult because everywhere we looked there was a fantastic machine, still life, composition or texture.



Below are our sample uppers clicked and ready to be stitched.

By the lovely Helen...

We followed the boots through the factory from clicking and closing to lasting. Then it was on to the star turn, the brass screw rivet machine.

The floor shook as Mike put it through its paces...

Power punching brass wire rivets through a
solid leather sole and insole some 2.5cm thick

This is what helps to give our new winter Tor boot it's distinct good looks...sturdy, stubborn and stylish!

More of our trip next week. Until then happy shoemaking!

Friday, 9 June 2017

Cockpit Arts Open Studios

Once more unto the welt, fellow shoe folk. Welcome back, we hope you have had a good week.

We have Open Studios this weekend here at Cockpit Arts in Bloomsbury, London

Your twice yearly chance to see over 80 designer/maker businesses who make some of the highest quality craft works in the country - shoemakers (us!), milliners, jewellers, ceramicists, weavers, printers and many more

We open this evening, Friday 9th of June from 6 till 9 pm and then tomorrow and Sunday from 11 till 6 pm. and it's free! Come along and say hi.

We are launching our latest ready to wear style the Tor Boot

Made in Derbyshire, these are rugged work boots are built to last using the last brass wire rivet machine in the country. This is a robust construction where the boots are cemented and then riveted together through the sole.

We have inserted a soft felt liner and felted sock to soften the interior of the boots to give you the perfect combination of tough on the outside and soft on the inside - remind you of anyone?

We have chosen 6 heavy duty leathers and contrasting felts.

And for the hard core work boot afficionados out there, we will be offering horse shoe heel top pieces and hobnails as an option.

We are taking pre-orders this weekend for £219 (RRP is £450), so come down and try a pair on.

And look out for our next Kickstarter project which we will be launching in the next few weeks. Exciting times!

We are also selling our Barkan Desert Boots for £199.

And our Winkers Resort Shoes for £149. You can't go wrong.

Have a great week and until next time, happy shoemaking!

Friday, 2 June 2017

New York Shoemaking finishing and Open Studios

Welcome back shoe fans. No we're back in Blighty it's a great opportunity to look back at the New York course. We've noticed over the years just how important the finished look of their shoes is to students...and we don't mean just hiding the odd nick or scratch! 

So we'll be putting together a photo album to illustrate the finishing options they can do for the Summer class...but for now, here's some great examples from New York, inspired by previous students' work. 

Dark brown dyed, polished and burnished edges with a natural finished sole on a conker brown Derby

Polished and burnished edges; a natural finished sole; drawn-on sole drawn pattern, dyed, polished and burnished.

Sealing the sole with a light layer of polish, repeatedly burnished in with fingers and a cloth 

Natural soles and natural polished and burnished edges on a Conker brown Derby

Black Derby shoes with gently pitched heels for a more feminine finish; dyed, polished and burnished soles; dyed, waxed and burnished edges

One style of shoe, six different finishes - great results!

That's all for this week. We'll be preparing for Cockpit Arts twice yearly Open Studios events next week., where we are proud to have been selected as part of a special showcase chosen and curated by consummate leather designer Bill Amberg!

Pop in and say hello if you're in London....we'll be selling shoes, previewing our new work boot, talking courses and showing our handsewn shoemaking film here in Studio W9 all weekend.

5pm - 9pm on Friday, 9th June
11am - 6pm Saturday and Sunday 10th and 11th June

Until next week, with more news of our new work boot, happy shoemaking! 

Friday, 26 May 2017

New Bespoke Shoes

Hello once more, dear readers, we hope you have had a great week.

With the arrival of the sunshine and with a spring in our step, we would like to share a couple of pairs of recent bespoke shoes with you.

First up is a pair of Oxford shoes in a large scotch grain. They are slightly unusual in that most often, people associate Oxford shoes with a more dressy look and grain leathers with a more casual look. But here they are combined to give a great result. We think they would look equally at home in the boardroom or the pub.

The colour is a warm chestnut which would compliment most suit colours or a pair of indigo jeans.

The two lines of 2:1 punching on the counter and cap give that bespoke flavour to the shoes.

Luckily, the customer's feet are an elegant narrow shape, so they give the shoes a sleeker silhouette. We gave the toes a good shine to give the shoes a touch of distinction.

All in all, a great first pair which the customer is very happy with.

Next up is a really interesting pair of low Chelsea boots with an asymmetric vamp and dark purple patina - very cool.

We love this style, very contemporary and unique but with a retro Star Trek vibe - "Beam me up, Scotty".

The patina is a combination of navy, black and purple which really pings in sunlight.

The high shine shows off the colour variation.

 And we fitted them with 3-piece bespoke boot trees made by our expert lastmaker.

Pretty cool - I want a pair!

And that is it for this week. We hope you liked the shoes and we look forward to welcoming you back next week. Until then, happy shoemaking!

Monday, 22 May 2017

New York Intensive Shoemaking Class - week 2

Welcome back fellow shoe enthusiasts! 

I'm sure that you will join us in congratulating the six handsewn shoemaking students who finished their shoes on Saturday in a flurry of rasping, glassing, sanding, polishing, dyeing, waxing and burnishing!!!!!

Here's week two of their journey in no particular order...and, of course, their wonderful shoes! 



Edge trimming...

Channel cutting...

Sole stitching...

In unusual...

...and more traditional stitching positions

Trimming the heel seat...

Heel building

Nail punching...

A break in teaching and time for party shoes...
Heel breast pitch

One still to go

Time to dye...

Edges polished ready to burnish

Almost done...


  A Military shine...

Some great sole patterns...

And they're done!

Celebrating with our generous host, friend and fellow shoemaker Jesse Moore at Fresh Kills Bar in Brooklyn...

At the end of week 1 with James...

And all together....Marc, Ivana, Alesha, Greg, Emily and Abby and me 

It's good night from New York and from us until later this week, happy shoemaking!