That’s a hard question, but it’s probably from when I was like 8-9 years old and all the cool kids in school had these Nike Air basketball shoes where the air cushion was shown on the side of the sole. My parents couldn’t afford that type of shoes, so I got some regular stuff, but I then noticed how there was a layer of cushioned foam below the top insole. I was really pleased with this, stating to my friends that it ”was almost as the air cushion, just different solution”. Not sure if they believed me, but I did, that was the most important thing.
When did you buy the first real pair of shoes?
As a teenager and in early adult years I didn’t care about shoes or clothes at all. The only important thing was which band there was on the t-shirt. For many years I bought a pair of Adidas Superstar II in spring, wore them every day all year, fixed them up with duct tape if needed, and then bought a new pair of the same model next spring.
Then I started university and started dressing a bit more grown-up, and when I began working in an office, even if it was as a journalist which really isn’t the best dressed crowd around, it developed further. I then wanted a nice coat for winter, and started browsing through menswear blogs and websites. Found a nice coat, and on these sites I had discovered how nice Goodyear welted, classic shoes could look. So I bought a pair of Loake 1880 Aldwych in dark brown, and since then I’ve been hooked. This was about nine years ago, and I’ve spent countless hours since then trying to learn as much as I possibly can about classic shoes.
What is your favourite model?
I think like 80 per cent of my shoe wardrobe consists of brown oxfords of various types. Which version of this that is my favourite can vary a bit, probably a wholecut with medallion, where the last shape really gets to shine.
But the one you prefer the least?
Best fitting pair of shoes?
Worst fitting pair of shoes?
How many pairs of shoes do you own?
What is the key of getting a good result from a good bespoke shoemaker?
The latter part of that question is an important one, ”good bespoke shoemaker”. Cause just because someone makes bespoke shoes, it doesn’t make them good, frankly. The variation of quality between bespoke shoemakers is huge. But when you’ve found a good one, and someone that makes a type of style that you like, then it’s important with good communication and patience. It is hard to explain how you experience fit and how you want shoes to fit. It’s a learning process for both you and the maker, and for me who has relatively complicated feet I’ve never had a really good fit on the first shoe from any bespoke shoemaker. Nowadays, when I’ve gained quite good experience of what works for me, and know shoes and fit quite good in general, I’m better at explaining for the shoemaker, which do help.
What advices would you give to a shoe buyer who would want to detect quality?
Is the client always right in ordering a bespoke? Did you happened to change your mind after having a discussion with your shoemaker?
It’s not possible to simply say yes or no to this question, it all depends. But I always listen to the shoemaker and hear their input on things, and sometimes I go with their suggestion, sometimes not. For example I had the discussion with one shoemaker about how tight the sole stitch should be, 10 or 12 spi, stitches per inch. He thought it would look better with 10, better balance for my large shoes. First pair he did with 10, it was ok, but next I convinced him to do 12, and we both agreed that I was right and it did turn out even better.
What is the quality that you appreciate the most at a bespoke pair above all?
The arch support. I have rather high arches and wide feet, with hallux valgus issues especially on the right foot. It’s only bespoke, or Made to Measure/semi bespoke if base last is good for me, where I can get a proper arch support, and it makes a big difference especially after walking a lot during a day, the feet are much less tired.
How do you see the future of the gentle craft?
It’s definitely a challenge. There is a big interest in making shoes by hand, and learning this, but there are relatively few who are willing to spend all that insane amount of time and efforts needed to really become great at it, at least in most parts of the world. People are too comfortable, to be a shoemaker is a lot of hard work but it doesn’t get you rich, and that combination is not ideal in this day and age.
To be continued …