Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 8 July 2011

3 New Shoes

Greetings fellow shoemakers of the world, I hope the week has been fruitful and invigorating. As you know I have been away to the sunny delights of the Cote D'Azure, and finding myself back in a cool and rainy London has obviously addled my brains.
I had prepared a wonderful photo essay on cutting soles to a specific thickness. I uploaded the photos to the computer and now cannot find them. They are on here somewhere, but I have exhausted both my patience and places to look. And being a super brainy shoemaker, I deleted the files on the camera when I uploaded them.

So, in view of this slight misfortune, I am going to show you 3 pairs of recently finished shoes which I like.

Before I start, we had a visit this week from 2 eminent shoemakers from Sweden and the USA. Carina Eneroth of Skomakeri Framat AB and Lisa Sorrell of Sorrell Custom Boots. It is always  a pleasure to meet fellow makers and widen the shoemakers network. Any others of you ever passing through London must come and say hi - we are very friendly.

First up is a pair of rather summery deerskin and canvas Derby shoes which we designed and made as part of our capsule collection for Gieves and Hawkes.
The back story is interesting. The canvas is what the bespoke tailors use for the body canvassing on the jackets and coats. I think it rather lovely in its own right, which is why we decided to use it.
The deerskin is roe deer from Scotland which was being culled every year, but the carcasses were being thrown away. So an enterprising tannery up there decided to tan the skins and the results are very good. The leather is very soft, but it also has subtle colour variations and the odd blemish (insect bites, scratches and scrapes).
Rather handsome!

I really like the three hand stitched stay stitches on the facings.

We used one of their military ribbons as a tug and the stitch detail on the back strap is taken from a military jacket in their archive.

The overlapping tab at the end of the facings was also taken from a detail on a great coat in the military archive (could have been slightly bigger?)

Just a word on proportion - I think the facings are slightly short for such a plain fronted shoe, but there you are. You often only see these things after the shoe is finished.

Next up is a very simple straight cap Oxford in black box calf. Some of the feedback we have received is along the lines of  'really beautiful designs, but do they make work shoes?'. The answer, of course, is that we do - we can make any style a customer could want. It's just that given a free reign, we tend to give our design  aesthetic a lot of space. We enjoy designing and with samples, we try to give customers the idea that the sky is the limit.
But because we listen to feedback, we are developing a new collection (The Mayfair Collection?) of shoes aimed at the work/office/suit market.
We are going to put our spin on the classics, so an Oxford, a Derby, a wholecut and a loafer. We are going to concentrate on simplicity, beautiful last shapes, small design twists, and a kick-ass waist (which seems to be the part of a bespoke shoe which marks it out as such).
So first up is the carreducker Mayfair Oxford in black box calf.

 We have elongated the cap slightly.

 Notice the modern chisel toe and flat toe box.

 Very high military shine on the cap and counters.

And the kick-ass waist - very pulled in; bevelled; and with a fiddle waist. The black finish all over is simple and clean. The only branding is the stamp on the waist and heel top piece. New nail pattern too (not 100% happy with it though).

Last up is an old favourite. Our classic Go-faster Stripe in black lizard with snake piping. A bold choice that will get you noticed. The client said something really interesting about shoes. He is a wealthy man and said that he had tried spending money on cars, watches, etc, but that the only thing that gives him that real excitement when he opens the box is shoes (and clothes, he has a lot of bespoke suits too). I share his sentiment entirely. He loves these shoes.

 We used natural snake and darkened it with polish.

 We also used Tejus lizard which has more variation in the size of the scales. It really shows up on the sides.

And that, as they say is a wrap. 3 beautiful shoes which we are very proud of. More next week, but until then, happy shoemaking!