Artisan, Behind the Scenes, How Shoes are Made, In a Day

Behind the Scenes: Spring Summer 2013

 

I’d like to share some behind the scenes photos from the shoe factory where I work on the samples and production. I spend many hours here and it’s my favourite place to be. For the coming collection, I worked on a new double-padding insole for extra comfort, improved the cutting and shape of some earlier shoe models, updated the color for the coming season and hand picked some of the finest quality leathers available. Of course I did not manage this alone – there were the manager’s assistant, the pattern-cutter, the sewing guy, the uncle who closed the shoes (lasting), the cleaner and the boxer. 

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Artisan, Behind the Scenes, How Shoes are Made

Artisan Technique: Closing

This is a follow up of my previous series on Artisan Technique: Pattern-cutting.

The stitching of the upper is important — the seam must always run accuratly and evenly. Any irregularity would destroy the harmony of a superb piece of footwear.

Once this is done, the next phase is for the shoe to take shape — this process is called lasting.

Here are some photos I took documenting the lasting process.

I had to endure many cuts and bruises on my fingers while completing this, but I loved every minute of it! :-)

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How Shoes are Made

Let’s Talk About Exotic Leather

Fashion has driven the demand for exotic leathers – and this includes crocodile, lizards, snakes, fish and ostrich leather.

Why is it exotic?

Take crocodile leather, for example. It is one of the most sought-after exotic skins in the world, because they are rare, expensive and difficult to get. The natural beauty of the leather veins and durability makes it a perfect leather for manufacturing of shoes and even bags.

For the brave and curious, here are some photos on crocodile, snake and ostrich leathers I’d like to share.

Note: Reader discretion is advised when viewing photos.

 

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Artisan, Behind the Scenes, How Shoes are Made

How Leather Soles are Made

The story of leather is as old as humanity itself. As early as Stone age, humans discovered various uses of leather and tried to find ways of making it flexible, hard-wearing and durable.

The craft of tanning has always been closely associated with shoemaking. The earliest evidence we have about the trade comes from the Egyptian wall paintings. In Egypt, as in ancient Greece and Rome, the most common preservation technique were vegetable tanning. Expansive leather was tanned with alum (a mineral salt).

Whether vegetable or mineral tanning, the essential feature of the main tanning procedures have not changed to the present day. Just like the art of shoemaking, the craft of the modern tanner has a history and tradition going back thousands of years.

In this post, I would like to share with you how leather soles are made. It was my first experience in a tannery (factory processing leather) and the raw cow skins presented a curious sight as I was not used to it.

Note: Reader discretion is advised when viewing photos.
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Artisan, How Shoes are Made

Artisan Technique: Pattern-cutting

Making a pair of shoes consists of more than 200 individual operations. But before one can do anything, the leather must be cut.

Before shoemaking became industrialized, a shoemaker would cut out every single piece of the shoe himself.

‘Clicking’ is the traditional name for the process of hand cutting all of the pattern pieces and it originated from the sound of the knives cutting around brass-bound patterns.

When cutting leather, the direction of stretch of a piece of leather is important — otherwise it may stretch sideways after being worn for a while and destroy the shoe’s rigidity and space.

The uppers of shoes are usually lined to make the shoes much more comfortable to wear – also enables skin of the wearer’s feet to breathe naturally. The upper parts may be made of soft, though durable leather, but when the shoes are made they are treated in many ways as the soft leather is given a final, lasting form.

The result is a stack of cut pieces ready to go on to the next operation: closing.

Closing is the process of sewing together the upper part of the shoe. It was all done by hand up until the late 1800s, when the Singer Company designed a sewing machine that could sew through leather.

And thus, the birth of modern shoemaking.

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