Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 5 February 2010

A Good Start

Last night was the launch party for Wolf and Badger. It was a great party so thanks to Zoe and Samir. I had not seen the shop before and I was very pleased with it. It looks different to other boutiques and the product is displayed really well. The character of each designer comes through and the product is king. Met a lot of the other designers. One thing I really liked was that there is a lot of menswear and children's clothes. Very eclectic mix, but lots of things I really liked. I think they have a good eye.
The location is great, Ledbury Rd in Notting Hill, and the concept is fantastic. It's a bit like a concession in a department store. Each designer hires a display area and then the shop takes a small percentage, so it's like retailing for us rather than wholesaling which is much better.
So fingers crossed. Our first London outlet. Yipee!

And the shoes look good too!

Zoe and Samir of Wolf and Badger. Nice Winkers.

Also met Simon Crompton this week who runs Permanent Style blog. Really interesting guy and I was left green with envy. 90,000 hits a month, over 300 followers. I suppose his brief is a lot broader men's style in general, but it goes to show the power of the web.
He seemed very intersted in our courses and even said he would like to do one. I am sure he will come along in the summer to see it in progress.

Tomorrow we are participating in the Liberty Open Call, where young (ahem) British designers get to meet buyers from Liberty to pitch their products and get feedback form the experts. The winners will have their product sold in the shop. How exciting. Wish us luck.

And so to shoemaking. Let's start at the very beginning. It's a very good place to start, like blocking insoles (not do ray me).

The insole is made from oak bark tanned shoulder. This is a full sized cow so is a thick hide. It is rolled and split and roughed (I think) by the tanners. We buy it whole and cut it to size ourselves.
Soak it for at minimum of an hour and then let it dry out till about 50%. Cut it roughly to fit the last and glass the skin side. This is important to stop the insole cracking and squeaking in the future.

Then put on some French chalk or talc. This helps the last come out when the shoes are finished.

Now you place the last on the insole and put in 4 nails along the centre of the last.

Now that it is fixed, you can trim the insole to within 5-7mm from the edge of the last.

Except on the inside waist, here you leave it fuller, especially if you want to make some arch support.

The last thing is to nail the insole to the last along the feather edge. The nails can be placed about 2 - 2.5 cm apart. A bit closer around the toe and heel.

Knock the nails down and than tap along the edge so that the insole takes the shape of the last. Then leave it to dry thoroughly. It's easiest to start preparing the insole when it is 90-95% dry.

Happy shoemaking!