Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 12 December 2014

Spain A New Shoe And Prosthetic Legs

Once again, dear readers, we welcome you back to the carréducker blog.

Whilst Madame Shoe was hard at it at the workbench (as she should be), I have been on a well-earned holiday in Madrid. 

It was a fantastic trip and, while there, I saw our good friend and fellow shoemaker Norman Vilalta who was launching his new ready to wear collection in the city. It was great to see him and see what he is doing. I thought the collection was interesting, both in its design and execution. His designs are innovative and playful - they stretch conventions and could only be made by a true shoemaker. I think he has imbued his designs with his personality which is warm, humorous and bit rock 'n roll.

We loved the exaggerated, sturdy soles and grain leather on these Monkstraps Photo Credit: Des Gens en Photo

Norman has spent many months perfecting the construction and working with his chosen factory to achieve the level of quality he wants. He then finishes them by hand from setting the edges onwards. The result is a true bench grade R2W shoe to challenge Gaziano and Girling, John Lobb (Hermes) and the like. Congratulations to him!

I also met Alvaro Arce who runs a shoe blog in Spanish called The Shoemaker World where you can find information and news about all aspects of shoes, in a similar vein to The Shoe Snob. Above is a photo of one of the new Norman Vilalta styles and you can see more images of the collection on Alvaro's blog. Look out for an interview about Carréducker there in the near future!

So you see, even on holiday, a shoemaker can't leave it alone - or so my partner says.

And on my return to work, my first task was to give that talk to eight hundred 16 - 18 year-olds which I mentioned in a previous post. I think it went well - I only saw one person asleep!I got good feedback and they asked lots of questions which is a good sign. A lot of them also continued talking to me after the session so I hope I have inspired at least one future shoemaker!
I shared the stage with Cornelia Parker OBE and Jeremy Deller, so Carréducker was in exalted company. It was interesting for the students to see two opposite ends of the creative process - two imagination/ideas driven artists and a practice driven craftsman. All of us making a living making things, but in completely different ways.

And so to the spectator that we were debating a few weeks ago. Below you can see which last shape won out. We went for narrow and elegant. Our favourite thing about the shoes is the point where the counter meets the wing cap. We don't usually do straight lines on shoes but we think it works here. The result is light and dapper.

A stroll down the pier, dear?

Same last - entirely different look

As part of the new bespoke collection

Today we saw a product designer called Ed Pennington-Ridge who approached us with a design problem with prosthetic feet which he is developing for use in Burundi initially and then other parts of the developing world.

He wants to get the unit cost down from $2000 for a commercial prosthetic to about £8 for one which can be made locally. The issue was how to attach the upper/outer/foot to the prosthetic leg in a simple low cost way, using materials which are cheap and available

After looking in detail at the design and the materials, I think we came up with an elegant, low-cost solution. Time will tell. Ed has to go away now and put our ideas into action

This sort of project is something which we both love getting involved with and we wish Ed the best for the development. He has promised to show us the next prototype and we will keep you up to date with progress.

Ed Pennington-Ridge and his prototype prosthetic leg

And that is about it for this week. We hope have enjoyed the post and we look forward to welcoming you back next week.

Until then, happy shoemaking!"