How did the idea to participate to “World Championship Shoe Contest” come into your mind?
Someone, a few years ago, asked me if I had any awards from contests. I saw photos on the internet of award-winning footwear (a cowboy boot that received an award somewhere in Europe). A few months ago there was an announcement on ShoeSnob and Shoegazing “World Championship Shoe Contest”. I wrote beneath the add “I’m in”, and I received a letter containing the conditions for participating. So I started to create the shoe.
What is the story of your shoe?
I just carved the tip of an Italian last. The request was for square. I named it “English”. Since the championship is in London… For the contest I was supposed to create a plain “cap toe” Oxford from black boxcalf. 42. The left shoe. I manually sewed the face. It was a pleasure. It’s easy to sew. Ever since I began sewing belts I kept thinking that I could also sew the shoe faces, but I haven’t done it so far. The lateral parts are from one piece, of course. I tried to use an English awl and I got a fine stitching at the sole. I sewed the frame with an eight threads wire. Thick. I pulled it with strength. It stays fixed in the inner sole. The box, cut from the best part of the leather, had no folds when I removed the shoe from the last. The sole, beige, shines. The stitch is hidden. A nice shoe. I didn’t have the proper roller for the stitch and I jagged the sole with something finer. I shouldn’t have done that. I’m sorry. As soon as the shoe comes home, I’ll “chop off its teeth”.
Where is the shoe now? Is it available for sale?
The shoe is in my studio, in Chişinău – Moldova. It’s a left shoe. If required, I can make the right shoe, too.
If there weren’t any markings related to the model, box, color and so on, how would the shoe you would take to a future similar contest look like?
It’s very well that there was this marking. It didn’t affect my time and focus. I was fixed on the shoe as a construction, not as a model. I don’t know what I would have done if it weren’t for this marking. I suppose it would have been just another oxford. Maybe even a black boxcalf. A brogue, a hand stitched face, most certainly. I would do something that I never did before. It isn’t good at all from a tactical point of view, but it is a reason to try something new. I haven’t done yet any Norwegian derby or a clasp loafer. I’m tempted by a top made not from one piece, but from 2-3 straps. Sandal shoe. Clasps, threads… I’d do something, for sure. Something nice!
What are you working on currently?
I’m working on a few orders. I’m also making a patina for the showcase. It seems to come out OK. I’m making it long, with a lot of liquid paint from Saphir. I let it dry during the night so that I can see the result in the morning. I add two or three drops of black paint every day. Fascinating process. The gradient is very well received. I’m making a “bleu nuit” oxford. I want to make a championship sole on it, with an 8 spi hidden stitch.
At the moment we are working with 5 lasts: Alan, Oliver, Jones, Howard and James. All our lasts are developed in width F, however, we also offer the possibility to produce shoes with width G and H for the last Alan, Oliver and Howard. This way we can adapt production to each client.
Due to the fact that all our lasts have the same body, we find the differentiating element at the toe-cap. This way we can change the look and the line of each last having the same fitting and thus we can prevent our client from having doubts when he chooses his size between a last or another.
About fitting, our lasts are considered true to size. If you are between sizes in other brands, we recommend to choose the smaller size because TLB is a little bit generous in terms of sizing. It means that if you have size between 8 and 8,5, we recommend you to get size 8 in TLB.
We have worked a lot to develop a range of lasts built with the same fitting and, as we have said before, some of them are available in F, G and H width. Once you know your fit in one last you have a wide range of choices depending on what style or expression you are looking for with your new shoes.
We have both contemporary classic lasts, chiselled lasts as well as modern lasts. It’s our customer’s choice to decide which one of our lasts could be our signature. Nowadays, we are working very well with Alan and Oliver lasts for the most elegant shoes, Howard for the most dressed casual models and we are sure that Jones last will work very well for our wonderful Loafers.
What is your favourite shoe out of the entire range? And what is the one needing the most work?
This is a hard question. A father can not choose the most loved son. However, If I have to give a name, I will say Charles and Douglas. I believe that in these two models we have reached very clean lines with the best expression of elegance. Although, reviewing our collection, I could mention every single model: Morgan, Newman, Murphy, etc.
But for me, the “must have” in my wardrobe are Norwegian Blucher with hand-sewn stitched. We have spent a lot of work and effort in this model in order to reach a very good sewn technique and, honestly, we are very satisfied and very proud of the result we have obtained.
For only approximately 100 Euro you can customize the shoe, which is a more than interesting option. Please tell us more about this part.
The customization footwear requires special treatment. In our tool of customization, our clients can choose the type of skin and color for each one of the sections of the footwear: the last, the medallion, the sole and its color … to sum up, you can bring the shoe to your taste and measure
Also, we give the chance to choose between three last widths: F, G and H, allowing us to adapt the shoe to every single client. Also there is a huge variety of soles that we can adapt to our designs. We are very happy and satisfied because we have received very positive reviews from the clients that have requested one customization from TLB.
When will the loafers range be ready?
This May we will have available the Loafers collection and it will be perfect for this summer.
As all of our models are made with the Goodyear technique and use the highest quality materials and with our personal stamp on the details. You can find models starting from the most classical ones up to other models that incorporate the Hand-Sewn technique and that make it a very special model.
Aside the website, can the shoes be found also at any of your partners?
At the moment our main customers in Europe are Skolyx, in Sweden; Patine, in Poland; and others such as Atelier Constance, Cuirs Saint Dominique, Oscar, Rainbow, Upper or Prestige Masculin, in France. Due to market circumstances, we have begun selling with more presence in France and, therefore, to have a larger client base in a short period of time, but we continue to expand the search in the rest of the countries.
On the other hand, we are closing several operations with clients of recognized prestige in the main capitals of the world and, at the same time, we are considering some retailers in cities where we do not currently have a presence.
Next September, TLB Mallorca will be present in fifteen shops in Japan; and also TLB will start to work in different shops located in Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and some other Asia countries, of course, with an eye on other countries such as the United States, Korea or Russia.