Praise to the craftsman

Too often when it comes to custom-made footwear, I hear a phrase that, in my view, verges on the absurd.

“But a shoe made by a shoemaker should cost little!

Why should it be so according to a large part of the Italian population?

First of all because there is a belief in our beautiful country that the craftsman does not create, horseradish. He takes an advanced piece there, a tool that you can also find from Brico, sewing with leftovers in a dark and scruffy laboratory.

Undeniable is also the result of the “modus operandi” of many repairing shoemakers who, although good, have prolonged too much over the years a kind of sale of their work declaring that they would “invent something to please” and would look in the laboratory if “they had some useful piece…”

This has contributed heavily to giving the entire category the name of “gentle factotum” to be paid by bargaining on the price.

Another thing that has emerged is that the single lab would not give as many guarantees as a famous brand can give. “What if it breaks?”, “What if I don’t feel good or hurt?”

Add to that the widespread belief that creating a pair of shoes from scratch is simple, and you’re fine.

Personal experience; after announcing the price-quote of a shoe created on the customer’s design this screaming states that “it‘s crazy, for a couple of hours with a screwdriver and a pair of pliers” or “but if I have to spend 2000 euros for a pair of shoes at this point I go to Armani, Gucci, Prada, Dolcegabbana, Ferragamo etc etc” and this statement is a classic evergreen.

So, first a distinction. There is a difference between a shoemaker who creates shoes and those who are dedicated solely to repairing. And it is not said that knowing how to do one thing automatically excludes the other but, it happens, that those who FA shoes do not know how to repair others that are not the SUE.

For convenience we take two pure cases, so to speak. Who only repairs and who only creates.

As far as I’ve been allowed to observe over the years, those who repair have a certain approach to footwear. Having repaired many often thousands of cases passed before his eyes are countless. This results in a wealth of experience and skill in finding solutions that are difficult to compare. I’ve seen perfectly repair shoes with pieces of an old typewriter or a tank seal of a Hello, just to say a few.

For this reason, those who repair often find themselves in the laboratory cluttered with anything. Someone nice ordered in drawers, someone in boxes and boxes. Frequently the work carried out has a variable cost, although the first essential factor that affects the price is THE TIME USE. To think of a solution and to find what best can meet the need of the craftsman. Removed this, the rest is to the evaluation of the shoemaker, to a certain extent.

There are repairmen who really do renovation miracles.

Who FA has a very different approach.

Second distinction: there are those who make bespoke and those who do “ready to wear” creating shoes with neutral fit, with the classic numberings.

The latter is no less craftsman than others, if well prepared creates footwear that usually have an eye for the quality of the leather and the type of breeving to which it is subjected.

It often does not offer a wide variety of colors-models-materials but the level of these is, at the same final price, often much higher than the average present in stores. Sometimes, some of these craftsmen, allows the customer to choose the material or color with which the footwear of the chosen model will be packaged. Some kind of Made-to-order. In this way, with a little attention, you can buy good shoes at fair prices.

Then there are those who create shoes made to order “On Measure” and here you enter another world. Meanwhile everyone has their own STYLE. That comes from years of experience and work execution preferences, including the choice of materials and accessories brands. This style is obviously reflected in the finished product. For this reason, the creator always has in the laboratory an abundant set of examples on multiple models, materials and finishes.

The beauty of having a similar shoe made is also the choice of materials that will compose it.

Many do not know but in recent years has caught on, we can say, the sector dedicated to VEGANE shoes. They are then created by excluding the use of animal materials.

And they’re perfect. 

Those who create high-end bespoke shoes worry about many other aspects of their customer that most may consider almost absurd.

You take note of the measurements and every particularity of the foot, there are those who use the technique of plaster cast of the foot (also useful for orthopedic shoes) and those who create a new shape in resin or, more valuable, wood expressly dedicated to the customer. Both will reflect throughout and throughout the starting foot.

It inquires about the diet and any physical problems related to the posture and the history of the same. It therefore creates the plantar suitable for the customer’s foot (the “diabetic foot” for example requires a certain type of plantar, as well as the “flat foot”).

In short, a tailored shoe made as it should help a lot also to live more easily certain problems. Adding the value of the style, so as not to wear shoes that look decidedly ungainly.

You begin to create the shoe around the shape, after finding all the “ingredients” most pleasing to the customer. It will take at least two months before being worn. Then there are those who make the test shoe before giving life to the final one and those who instead go straight to the final. It’s a matter of styles, too. That however will not be the last step, because once completed the customer will start to use it and, usually, after an agreed period of time reviewed in the laboratory to give his impressions. The end result will be a glove for your feet and, as a result, a unique pair of shoes in the world.

Here, too, the TIME is an essential factor.

Then there’s another category. Who does and also repairs/restores/modifies, regardless of who has produced what is brought to them. And here I think there’s an extra edge. Because such a person could add real little strokes of genius to the creation of your shoe. The “problem solving” derived from repair prepares for a practical and mental elasticity not negligible.

Those who dedicate their time solely to you and your article deserve respect for their work and proper recognition of what they do. The end result will be a glove for your feet and, as a result, a unique pair of shoes in the world.

I know famous artisans in their field but not thanks to marketing or branding operations or constant presence on social media. Only via PASSAPAROLA.

And if someone attracts customers from all over the world, without even exposing it in the window and doing it deservedly, here I think that person has the right/duty to get paid well.

If after reading this, and I thank you anyway for doing it, you are still not convinced because you are a bit like St. Thomas, then you should just feel the difference on your skin.

In addition to writing about it, what I can do is accompany you in the discovery of this exceptional world from which I am absolutely certain you will not be disappointed.

But fascinated and satisfied.

Soon and… Good steps!

James.