I take pride in my very first pair of handmade shoes – yeah!
Making shoes was once considered to be a lowly trade, ranking alongside the carpenter, the blacksmith and the seamstress. Today, however, the inevitable march of mass production through the footwear industry has forced us to realize that every handmade shoe is in fact a precious object created by highly skilled and trained artisan.
It is not known exactly when shoemaking developed as a craft, although evidence suggests that it existed as a trade in Egypt as far back as 2,000 BC. The skills and tricks of the craft have doubtless been altered and refined over the centuries, yet today’s process of constructing footwear still consists of the same essential stages as it did one hundred years ago.
Until the mid-twentieth century, the actual designing of the shoe was not considered a separate artistic pursuit, rather a part of the whole shoemaking process. This is a far cry from today when celebrated designers are household names, while the craftsman or artisan who produces shoes in factories remains anonymous.