Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 18 February 2011

New Shoes

A bit of controversy! Ooh. I have had some mixed feedback on last week's post about imperfections in craft. The comments on the blog were positive.

 "You can always tell apart of the work of a master carpenter and a amateur, an amateur is resigned to accepting his mistakes whilst a master carpenter knows how to hide his." R Beaver

"Agreed. Striving for perfection and/or the impossible makes something beautiful, but perfection itself without the toil can be a bit boring and/or soulless." Anonymous

But I had a face to face disagreement this week with someone who said I was betraying the trade and that I should not advertise the fact that we make mistakes. On the one hand, I can see that from a customer's point of view, having spent upwards of £2000 for a pair of bespoke shoes, they might not like to think that they are not perfect. But on the other hand, they are not just buying a pair of bespoke shoes, they are entering into a process, a dialogue, an exchange with the artisan. And having built up a relationship with your shoemaker, you realise that what matters is not just how they look (though this is very important), but how they fit; where the leather comes from; what adaptations they have made for you; the hand work involved; the fact that you can choose what features the shoes have. In short, all the choices and interactions which go into the bespoke process.

And by the way, as a last point, our bespoke shoes look magnificent and beautiful. We would never deliver them to a customer if they were substandard.  The criteria with which I judge their appearance are much harsher than any punter would ever apply. Just feast your eyes on these beauties!

These are a pair of two tone summer shoes made from roe deer skin and canvas. There is a great back story to the deer skin. In Scotland, they cull the deer every year and they were just burning the carcasses. So the very enterprising folk at our favourite tannery in Scotland decided to rescue the skins and put them to good use. The result being this wonderfully soft leather which has a beautiful grain and texture. The shoes have eyelet perforations in the waists for air circulation. I think the combination of colour and texture is lovely. Love the profile of this shoe.

Next we have a brogued derby boot in golden tan French grain. This has a light square waist which means it goes from a chunky 3/8" sole to a much thinner sole in the waist. This is accentuated by by the sticker sole. Notice the extra brogue detailing on the counter and the Norwegian welt. This is where the upper is folded out to form the welt and the welting stitches are visible on the side of the boots. It makes for a more weatherproof construction. Looks cool too.

Next up our classic Saddle boot in black made for a lady. Only difference is the more shapely last. Nice boots!

Last and, in this case, least, a pair of black calf loafers with a lake in ostrich. Marmite shoes I think. Love 'em or hate 'em. No middle ground. Fortunately, our client loves them, which is all that counts in the long run. Monogrammed band - say no more.