Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Christmas is coming




Welcome back good shoe folk. We're in the festive mood with Diwali just gone, Thanksgiving fast approaching and Christmas not too far away now, so the Elves have been busy getting Santa's Gift Shop together.

It's a small, carefully curated selection of our favourites - meaningful presents, carefully sourced with recycled packaging and reusable boxes. These are creative gifts for yourself, to get friends and family making or for the shoe enthusiasts in your life!


Shoe Shine and Moonshine polish box £39

The box includes polish instructions plus a bristle brush to remove dirt and dust; a natural bone polish applicator brush; a soft, horsehair buffing brush; Saphir Creme Surfine; Saphir Pate de Luxe; plus a mini bottle of 12 year Balvenie as your reward! 

By the way, there's no cloth included as we think old T-shirts and tights make the best polish cloths. The Saphir polish and cream is available in black, neutral, light brown, mid brown, dark brown and burgundy.

Shoe Shine Box £29

The box includes polish instructions plus a bristle brush to remove dirt and dust; a natural bone polish applicator brush; a soft, horsehair buffing brush; Saphir Creme Surfine; Saphir Pate de Luxe

By the way, there's no cloth included as we think old T-shirts and tights make the best polish cloths.

The Saphir polish and cream is available in black, neutral, light brown, mid brown, dark brown and burgundy.

Carreducker Polish Trio £12 

Black, brown and neutral natural beeswax polish from the Scottish Borders 

Starter Leatherwork kit £199

including a card case or key fob PROJECT

PROJECT KEY FOB £19 

The materials to make a key fob including strap leather, hardware, pre-waxed thread and instructions









PROJECT CARD CASE £19 

The materials to make a card case in chocolate, fudge, orange and black Italian veg. tanned leather with pre-waxed thread and instructions






PROJECT DOG COLLAR £29

in 25mm or 18mm wide natural veg. tanned leather straps, hardware, templates, thread and instructions








The Promise

to gift a very special pair of handsewn bespoke shoes from £3250






Gift cards

worth £25 - £500 gift boxed and ready to spend on shoes, boots, project, accessories or classes 


That's it from us for this week. Next week, news of our visit to Grandey's Place. Until then, happy shoemaking!

Monday, 4 November 2019

Leather - a question of transparency




As craftsmen, it is disheartening to see the qualities of leather being undermined by the faux leather movement. Articles like the one below, from COTANCE and UK Leather, play an important part in redressing the balance, but we believe that if there is one thing the leather industry must address it is its transparency and trace-ability. 

Knowing the answers to the following questions would not only give the industry a stronger platform from which to counter its nay-sayers, but it is information that is increasingly important to its customers in the fashion, interiors, automotive and craft industries. We not only want to have the answers to our customers' questions about welfare, carbon footprint, sustainability and byproduct, but we want those answers to help inform where we source our leathers from and to then actively promote them.

Are the hides a byproduct from the meat industry?
Where do the animals live?
How do the animals live?
How far are they transported? 
Where is the abattoir?
How are they killed?
How far are the hides transported?
Where and how are the hides tanned?
What are the working conditions like?

If we can honestly answer those questions and market the industry and our products on that platform, then I think we'd see a real shift in attitude towards leather.     

Leather endures: the case of durability

written by Dr Kerry Senior, Director of Leather UK.

"No one can have failed to notice the growing concerns about the impact of fast fashion on the environment. In 2017, Greenpeace reported that between 2000 and 2014, global clothing production doubled, while the average amount consumers spent per item and how long they kept it, both declined. Producing this much clothing uses up huge amounts of natural resources and has a massive negative impact on the environment.

The report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, ‘A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning fashion’s future’, found that the clothes themselves, increasingly made of polyester, are putting dangerous amounts of microfibers in the oceans - about half a million tonnes per year - and too often wind up in landfills after little wear.

Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is land filled or burned and less than 1% of material used to make clothing is recycled into new clothing. Throw-away garments contribute more to climate change than air and sea travel and if nothing changes, by 2050 the fashion industry will use up a quarter of the world’s carbon budget.

The contrast with leather, undeniably a material for slow fashion, is stark. Regardless of the final application, leather is made to last, often improving with age.

This durability is one of the characteristics that make leather such a wonderful material. A pair of leather shoes might last 20 years, whereas a pair of synthetic shoes is likely to be thrown away after less than one.

Leather products can be repaired, a central requirement to achieving the circular economy. As noted in the Leather Naturally White Paper on the Sustainability of Responsibly Made Leather, ‘using resources for the longest time possible could cut some nation’s emissions by up to 70%, increase their workforces by 4% (repairing items) and greatly lessen waste’.

It seems that in our ever-faster world, the value of the durability of leather seems to have been forgotten, lost in the quest for cheap, disposable materials now, without any thought for the consequences down the line. In her book, ‘Craft of Use’, Kate Fletcher describes true materialism as “a switch from an idea of a consumer society where materials matter little, to a truly material society, where materials - and the world they rely on - are cherished.”

In our fast world, materials have no value and the damage to the world they rely on is increasingly evident. In contrast, leather goods last, improve with age and may see years of use before repair or disposal is required. And this is to say nothing of the renewable and sustainable raw materials from which leather is made.

Leather is a material that is cherished by those still wise enough to see its virtues. Durability is one of them."


Food for thought. Until Friday, happy shoemaking!

Friday, 25 October 2019

Batten Riding Boots



Welcome back good shoemakers! We've had a wonderful week not least a visit to the depths of Northamptonshire to visit Maud vdB who was training with us earlier in the yea and is apprenticed at Horace Batten (one of the best kept secrets in the country). Horace Batten make beautiful riding boots, the way they always have been, by hand. Here's a quick behind-the-scenes tour...

Boots in the making room

The closing and pattern room


Sanding heels

Nothing goes to waste
Winter warmth
 





  

Vigorous cleaning to get them into shape
The hand stitched throat
and finished


Hand stitched inside the throat - Maud's beautiful work

Maud making a pair of boots
Stitching the seat ; the sole and heel are then stitched to this for extra strength








Boot tops in a multitude of beautiful colours

New...

and old.

Stitch detail inside 







For wrenching heels off







Historic boots from the archives 

with  amazing stories to tell!
That's all from us for this week. Thank you to Emma, Maud and the fantastic team at Horace Batten for being so generous with their time and such a wonderful glimpse into their world of boots Until next week happy shoemaking!