Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 27 May 2016

9 days and counting, Pop Up Shoe Shop and Tassel Making!


With just 9 days to go on our Kickstarter we've just topped £16,000, but with £2000+ still to raise there is everything still to play for. 

So we're calling in favours and calling on friends and followers to help us get over the £18,000 so that we can realise our desert boot dreams. 

The busier the campaign is, the more likely it is to get seen on Kickstarter. So if you fancy a pair of shoelaces, socks, a shoehorn or shoebags then now is the time to pledge and to get our campaign noticed! Thank you!




Next weekend is our twice-yearly Open Studios...and this year sees Cockpit's 30th anniversary and the launch of our inaugural Pop-Up Shoe Shop! 

Pop by to buy:

  • Barkan Desert Boots - come try them on and pre-order 
  • Winkers Resort Shoes - all sizes available to try on 
  • Sample velvet slippers - SAMPLE SALE
  • Samples of the wonderful Crays collaboration with Thornback and Peel - SAMPLE SALE 
  • Dashing and Harris Tweed samples (the final few) - SAMPLE SALE 


So if you're looking for a little escape at the end of half term, send the kids off to Corum Fields to burn off some energy and come shopping!

Thursday 2nd June 6-9pm
Friday, Saturday and Sunday 3rd - 5th June 11am - 6pm



We're delighted to announce that we are running our first tassel making class on Saturday 16th July. 

The four-hour class costs £65 and runs from 10-noon and then 1-3pm, so you can enjoy the delights of Lamb's Conduit Street and its independent shops, boutiques and cafes during lunch.

In the class you will learn the principals and skills of leather tassel making creating one style of tassel in different girths and lengths to hang from your handbag, bicycle handle or as a curtain tie.

Email us at to book onto the course.

Friday, 20 May 2016

£4000 to go on Kickstarter, Shoe Snobs, Footwear News and the Royal Academy

It's been a very busy week promoting the Kickstarter campaign, seeing clients for fittings and celebrating Cockpit Arts 30th anniversary.

We're really excited that the campaign is continuing on a steady trajectory, but we really need all the help we can get to smash that £18k target. Please SHARE

We've had some great support in the media and online with the latest on Footwear News in the US

and Justin Fitzpatrick aka The Shoe Snob's fantastically prolific blog... 

If you want a shoe man's opinion then Justin's is the go-to blog so, if you don't already, do follow him.

We've also been celebrating Cockpit Arts 30th year anniversary this year and I was delighted to join Cockpit alumni, jeweller Jane Adams and hand loom weaver Catarina Riccabona at the Royal Academy this morning to share our business stories, hosted by Cockpit Arts CEO Vanessa Swann. There were many common strands - starting in a garden shed, changing career, struggling to get started, sharing skills, moving into a stand-alone space - and we enjoyed the opportunity to share our journeys so far with  the Friends of the RA over a delicious breakfast.

Short and sweet...until next week, happy shoemaking.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Biomechanics, Bespoke and Barkan Desert Boots

Welcome back fellow shoe fans! We've had a fantastic week with a great start to the Barkan Desert Boot campaign - we're 63% funded - so thank you for sharing and pledging and to our social media champions who have been giving the brand a big shout out at Grey Fox, The New Collections, Chic Geek, Last Style of Defense, Noodlefish, Cockpit Arts, The Tweed Pig and London Craft Week.

We've still got a way to go so please share if you haven't already. Every share helps to open up the campaign to a new audience and wider network of potential backers...and they get the chance to enjoy some fantastic early bird rewards from shoehorns, socks, shoelaces and shoebags to all eight boots and some bespoke options too. 

But life hasn't only been about Kickstarter. 

We were honoured to join the judging panel at De Montfort University in Leicester for the second year students Biomechanics and Bespoke orthopeadic Awards. The award is supported by the Worshipful Company of Pattenmakers with whom we've shared many a convivial glass and dinner over the years. 

The judging also tied in nicely with Leicester City's (aka the Foxes) fantastic football success winning the Champion's League, so everyone was in a great mood. (It's a long story if you don't know it, but in a nutshell it was a case of David triumphing over Goliath). 

Anyway, back to awards of a shoe-design nature. 

The standard of work was very high, but what I found most impressive and reassuring was to see these students - tomorrow's shoemakers, designers and physiotherapists - thinking not just about design, but the foot, mobility and the whole body and of the commerciality of their designs who would buy them and why. Just as it should be.

The judges feeding back to the finalists and congratulating them on their work

For the Biomechanics Award, each student had been tasked with identifying their own biomechanical problems and designing a pair of shoes to address them. Each of them was passionate about a particular sport, some more competitively than others, which ranged from high impact netball and kickboxing to table tennis and free running. 

Biomechanics finalists Agi, Joanna, Rachel and Georgia

Talks covered Lordosis - curvature of the lower spine; Kyphosis - curvature of the upper spine; Hallux Valgus - bunions, inflamed and protruding big toe joint and where the big toe deviates into the path of the toes; Hallux Rigidus - where the big toe joint is static or has limited movement; Pes Cavus - an over-high instep; Supination -  the foot rolls through from the heel along the foot's outside edge; Hammer Toes - where the first and/or second metatarsal joint of usually the first and or second toes are raised (like the hammer in a piano). 

So all-in-all a tough design brief to create a suitable solution to address one or all the problems. 

DMU's Biomechanist Tim King and the joint winning students Joanna and Georgia
The students had really done their homework and the presentations and support material really demonstrated just how much they had learnt and included some impressive development work and beautiful illustrations. It made an already difficult choice even more difficult, so difficult in fact that the panel unanimously chose two winners and two runners up!

The bespoke work was an equally tough choice. 

Bill Bird (third from left) with Pattenmakers Bespoke Orthopaedic Design Award finalists:
Tabasam, Georgia, Kathryn, Daniel, Yoon Li and Rachel.
For the Bespoke Orthopaedic Design Award the students were given a last which they had to examine and then create a customer whose problems the last represented and which for whom they would design for. Again the challenges were diverse from a ballet dancer with hypermobility to a stunt man who had damaged his ankles in a fall.

The Pattenmakers Bespoke Orthopaedic Award finalists with their designs
A highlight for me was Tabasam's ultra-wearable, super-cool skater style boot for his stunt man (third from left). But after a brief discussion the award went to Daniel Maguire for his ballet dancer's casual shoe. He created a great-looking shoe and impressed us with his enthusiasm, knowledge, use of materials and techniques (he obviously loved making) and ability to present on the fly (the PowerPoint failed)!

An altogether inspiring experience. Until next week happy shoemaking.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Barkan Desert Boots Campaign is Live!

Welcome back fellow shoemakers and shoe fans, it's time to get booted!

Our Barkan Desert Boot Kickstarter campaign is NOW LIVE and we need your help to tell as many people about as you can about it. 

This week's post is to demystify Kickstarter, in case you're in the mood for a pair of beautiful boots or if you're thinking about using it for your own product launch or project in the future. 

Aldeburgh Barkan Desert Boots in purple Nubuck

Aldeburgh pictured with lightweight rubber sole

This is the campaign link so that you can PLEDGE and SHARE far and wide. There are some fabulous rewards up for grabs and, however big or small, we really appreciate your support.

Eyke Barkan Desert Boot in sandstone Nubuck

Eyke shown with an undyed, natural crepe sole

For pledges under £40 there are beautiful natural cow horn shoehorns

Carreducker London boot bags...

The Original Lace Company waxed cotton shoelaces...

and cosy Carreducker/Pantherella socks - perfect for to wear with your Barkans 

Friston Barkan Desert Boot in snuff brown suede

Friston shown with a brown natural crepe sole

The boots, which you will be able to buy online for £265 (suede and Nubuck) and £295 (Italian veg. tanned leather) in September, are available for pledges of £125 or more, £165 or more and £200 or more....but be quick as there are a limited number of each! 

Rendlesham Barkan Desert Boot in cognac Italian veg. tanned leather

Rendlesham shown with an un-dyed, natural crepe sole

Then there are multiples to be had if you fancy grouping together with friends or family...or fancy more than one pair yourself! So you can pledge £300 or more for two pairs and £450 or more for three pairs....

Saxmundham Barkan Desert Boot in hot pink Nubuck

Saxmundham shown with lightweight rubber sole

You can pledge £750 or more for a customised pair of Barkans in a leather of your own choice, including a trip to our leather merchant in Northampton with us....

Snape Barkan Desert Boot in pitch black grain Italian veg. tanned leather

Snape shown with black natural crepe sole

Or 8 pairs in all of the colours or in a mix of colours and sizes for pledges of £1200 or more...
Wickham Barkan Desert Boot in jet black suede

Wickham shown with black natural crepe sole

Then for pledges of £2000 or more there are some exciting bespoke options including having a pair made on your own bespoke last!

Woodbridge Barkan Desert Boot in sky blue Nubuck

Woodbridge shoe with lightweight rubber sole

If you don't already, please follow us and share our posts via Facebook, @cdlondonshoes or @bespokeshoe on Twitter, Linked In, and at Carreducker on Pinterest and tell your friends and family about the campaign(Obviously get your early bird pledge in first!)

Thank you so much for your support and here's to another successful Kickstarter and to giving English shoemaking a boost! Fingers...and toes...crossed! Until next week, happy shoemaking!

Friday, 29 April 2016

New bespoke shoes and counting down to the Barkan Desert Boot Kickstarter Campaign Launch

Welcome back, shoe folk of the world.

We promised you some new bespoke shoes this week and here they are, two pairs of loafers in Inkwell navy blue calf with black finish... 

...and in a beautifully supple, butterscotch, waxed, veg tanned mountain goat leather with a natural, polished finish.

Both are lined in our favourite jewel kid colours. Keeping things buttery, the butterscotch is lined in a buttercup yellow and the Inkwell in sky blue.

Other news in our shoemaking world is the countdown to the launch of our next Kickstarter campaign for the Barkan Desert Boot. It's an exciting moment and we really hope that people flock to this one because there are some fantastic early bird rewards. Shoehorns, boot bags, shoelaces for pledges of £30 or so and boot rewards from £125.

We'll let you know as soon as it goes live next weekend if you fancy grabbing yourself a pair of these...

Until then, it's back to the bespoke bench for us - happy shoemaking!