Dear Mr. Aubercy the shoes created by your Maison are quite original, with a very appealing design that differentiate you from other shoemakers. Could we speak about an Aubercy style and if so what are the particularities of your house style…
The style of my house reveals our passion and desire to give pleasure to our customers, and in the same time not surprisingly we have the desire of being elegant and refined and also remarkable in the same time.
We are always looking for passionate people who sometimes have everything. It is exciting to be able to borrow in the making of shoes technical things that exist in other areas of craft. Just like the tests with ears cut off in a derby of Carbon sails of a boat from the America’s Cup or the recent home fabrics Holland and Sherry associated with Balmoral. This is even more challenging because it is done in the spirit of our house meaning it has to apply to our technical shoe demanding.
Since 1935 we wanted to create a shoe that synthesizes the best of the English and Italian shoes with a touch of French taste. Our shoes are the most Italian English and most English Italian while being very French …
I’ve been cradled in our style which our faith say it is made of real creativity, but that does not spread, is a unique originality rare but discreet. I’ve always admired the look of some Patek Philippe & easy Piaget Altiplano watches that succeeding in being discreet and revealing in the same time the mechanisms that is of a great technical complexity. This characterizes us: apparent simplicity but considerable technical complexity.
My grandfather said that “the real luxury is what is not seen.” We believe that it is not the sole color or three nails that make the shoe exceptional … Our shoe is exceptional for many other reasons, that only true connoisseurs see. It’s a bit like the kitchen … A great product doesn’t need more or less sauce or salt to be great, it is itself in his nobility. This is the spirit of our house. When a client wants a base color, of course we will do, but what matters are all the hours that a hand spends making that shoe. That can not be seen and ultimately that is what makes the creation as we know it.
The style is not the design, in Aubercy the most important thing is the shoe on foot, not without it, that is it ‘s first role so that’s why our footwear are so recognizable. Our customers are immediately amazed. This is the first bond and promise : the comfort and quality. Our shoes glove the foot.
These are drawings that I have made in recent years, as the Ellipse with lacing that for the first time instead of being right is made of two curves or areas… Obviously they shifted the great classic shoes but always we treat forms in our style. The specifics is what inspire us all. Every meeting, every reading, every customer, every time I open a box of our collections of old shoes inspires me to take a pencil and start drawing . We are curious about everything. Not a long time ago after reading a book about cars I created Nino with its double lacing. Once I read a book about a painter who inspired our lines in a very particular model … We see a Riva boat or a magnificent Cuban cigar and that inspires us for a new patina or a harmony of color and materials … inspiration is in the life that surrounds us. All dreams are our inspiration.
Life is what moves, vibrates and I hope that our shoes live in the foot of our clients. Creation is our legacy that grandfather gave us and today we have the pleasure to follow it. My latest creation as a Venice lover that I am, is a moccasin inspired of dough mask, and we called it Lupin tribute to the famous thief gentleman.
The Lupin shoe is one of our best home sellers. We are also working on many other ideas but we always respect the bounds of classic. On my desktop, I have a pair of Tuczek, from 1930 … This is the most beautiful pair of shoes that I have ever seen … In style and technique. It is like my master standard that makes me never to forget that I want to reach perfection.
Edward – Tuczek Style
I will be happy to share it with your readers, if one day they are going by Rue Vivienne. But our greatest strength is the power of an affordable price related to the quality and the fact that we are making unique designs for each client.
The Aubercy force and strength lies on the connection between the affordable price linked with quality. Our scope is making unique designs for unique clients. To summarize it is through perpetual effort seek to please the clients ; the permanent journey in transforming a simple piece of leather in a unique luxury item that will singularize the wearer that will be glad to walk the shoes that others don’t have. This is the force of my family brand.
The history of your house begin between the wars. What are the most defining moments that shape the Aubercy Maison?
In fact, the most important moment was the meeting between my grandfather and my grandmother. They fell in love and decided in 1935 to set up their home. This was their first creation.
Grand father – Founder
What’s funny now is that an old client of ours (more than 30 years), told us ” between me and your Maison is more than just shoes it’s a love story” . So we are faithful to the feelings lived by my grandfather and my grandmother … Our love for our profession, our loyalty to all those who appreciate beautiful shoes and beautiful objects.
Alexandre Iacofleff 1923
A great opportunity for my grandfather Emile Aubercy was his friendship with the great dandy Arturo Lopez. Arturo introduced him in 1950 to the great Epoque shoemakers and the exchange was exceptional. There was also the time when we had our own studio around 60′s. When my father met my mother she was working in the shoe shop. A few weeks ago we launched our first collection of women …
In fact, I’ll tell you, each new order and each meeting with the desires of one of my clients is the defining moment that is shaping the house. That every moment demands our attention, our heart and all of our knowledge that we built on. Each new accomplishment of a desire makes me want to continually exceeding and becoming better. Each of my clients are shaping and define my house, especially when that involves a fusion of human and heart. Each accomplishment, each shoe shaped, shapes my house.
The love for our profession, the desire of defining values, the love for precision, for beautiful materials, the uncounted hours, the love of our clients, the trust that is paid whenever the door of the store opens is spent and must be honored, regardless of the hour that have to be sacrifice for our passion. We do this for 70 years with our customers, gentlemen, aristocrats of elegance. I believe in each of our creations is a bit of soul which we are attached too. It is their smile, their amazement (while sometimes they can have it all), that smile full of truth that touches us most and that makes us get up every morning trying to improve, to be better and to meet their criteria.
How many shoemakers are involved in the process of RTW and bespoke shoemaking?
We have 8 people who are involved in the making of our shoes. You can imagine our workshop with just 8 people for ready to fit shoes and measurement. That is why all our shoes are assembled by hand. That is why we do not have Goodyear machine, all our shoes are hand-sewn which is unique in Paris.
Many people talk about Goodyear an aspect which could be discussed. I think a beautiful hand stitched it’s better than Blake goodyear that is seen. But yes a hand-sewn Goodyear has real legitimacy in its technical input.
We have one person for each line of work : two people cutting and patronage, one person who sews the top of the shoe, then two editors hand and one person who sews hand welts and one person for finishing. You asked me the names there are : Roberto, Massimo, Maria, Valerio, …
It is this human dimension that allows the unique way to make a unique shoes with unity in our online degree in special order.
Moreover, a short film was shot in our workshop and is posted on our new website. It will present some of our work.
A shoe is a team effort. The technique of making a shoe has more than 350 operations but there is a also the great work before and after of men and women who are the guardians of all that is not visible. Their role is to be both the initiator and conductor of every opinion, of every sensitivity account. Luxury is a sum of small details (which often can not be seen immediately) that ultimately are implemented.
Each reaction if it is listened and taken into consideration can improve the assembly and transform it in very exceptional thing. Listening, respect, family, each craftsman skills, each client desires – those are the values of my house.
Bespoke shoes means excellent materials. Please give me a run down of your shoemaking process with accents on the material use and quality control.
We start by selecting the finest non-rectified calf skins (impossible when using skins of adult cattle whose leather is too coarse, which requires to rectify the same time removing all the nobility of his appearance). Hides are selected by the family among the animals whose skin was without any imperfection (insects, diseases or barbed wire). The skin is tanned by French tanneries.
The hides from French tanneries have a “strength” of 12 to 14 years. Recently a customer brought a pair that was more than 20 years. So it can be a family good I like the idea that some customers can leaving pairs to their sons.
We cut the rods (whole upper part of the shoe) by hand, not by machine from the heart of the skin and, on some models the edge finish is done by candlelight. Then they are assembled with a double bite (which must have a thickness of one) in order to give an absolute guarantee of strength and also preserve the aesthetics. Then we insert into the rod ends hard and buttresses are also leather trimmed (smoothed) by hand. The majority of these rods are made of a single lifting of skin.
All stems (parts of leather shoe upper) are assembled by hand on wooden forms and whose specific fit is exceptional…. so that they perfectly fit the contour of these and the stem is mounted perfectly straight on the form (they remain on these forms more than 25 days). This technique can be and artisanal gives the shoe a curve quite exceptional…
Now to give you a clear imagine of how an Aubercy shoe is made I need to tell you more about each stage starting with the Last.
Last : A “Measure” piece requires the manufacture of an original last to correspond perfectly to the impression made of each foot, ensuring a perfect shoe size. We preserve the last so future orders will benefit from the same perfect fitting and the same enjoyment for the customer.
Fitting : At 4 to 5 weeks after we receive a “Measure” order, we conduct a pre-fitting as needed on both feet to achieve the perfect size for the final pair. The finished product will be delivered a few weeks after.
Handmade Creation : Creating a pair of our shoes requires 10 to 12 weeks because our manufacturing requires that each upper spends between 4 to 6 weeks on an assembly last. This special technical approach ensures that the shoe will possess the unique curve you only find with handmade shoes, and attractive and technical durability which means that our shoes are quite often handed down from father to son.
Stitches : Stitches are made with 5 points per centimeter of sewing; the hole left behind by the needle is almost invisible and thread tension is perfect.
Ornamentation : For ornamentation, all the one piece models feature English edges that are technically more difficult to create than piping on the edges (it’s a technique often reserved for large sizes), but they are more aesthetically pleasing.
Assembly : Assembly of all uppers is hand-done to achieve perfect form and a unique curve that will last throughout the life of the shoe. We have decided that uppers should stay for more than a month on their assembly form so that each of the elements fits in its place in perfect harmony, and the result is the unique aesthetic quality that belongs to each of our creations.
Reinforcements : All our shoes are reinforced by felt side lining located between the counter and the hard toe-puff; the counters are made of leather.
Goodyear : We don’t have a Goodyear machine, which makes us unique today. All the welts on our Goodyear shoes are therefore sewn by hand. This spirit and the outstanding choices that emanate from it are the reasons that true lovers of fine technique are our loyal customers.
Fine Point Stitching : If the client requests it, it is even possible to perform small point stitching by hand, which is a technique hardly seen anymore on full-sized shoes, and which costs 3 to 4 times more.
Extensions : For us it is a mark of refinement that when the soles are trimmed, extensions are very narrow, around 3 mm. Any lover of fine footwear will note immediately the uniformity of the trim and the welts.
Heels : Ever since the time of Grandfather Aubercy, who founded the Aubercy Design House, our made-to-measure shoes have a heel that sports a special shape: the heels are beveled on the inside to keep the wearer from ripping his pants while walking. A refined detail for the true fashion maven, but in our world, all of the details come together to create a level of refinement that make our shoes a true luxury.
Some finishing is done by passing a welting wheel through the throat of the heel; the very end (final leather layer in the heel) is nailed in 7 times. The heel welting is finished off in the shape of a star (special mark of an Aubercy shoe).
Size : New clients are always surprised when they slip their feet for the first time into a pair of Aubercy shoes. They can’t believe that “they feel perfect right away” and that “there’s no need to break them in”. Each of our shoes is assembled on one of the firm’s historic forms which our form-makers constantly update for today’s tastes and for the perfect size. For Aubercy, we stand for aesthetic appeal and also for outstanding comfort. You’ve got to try a pair to understand.
Width : To make sure that Aubercy shoes fit any foot perfectly, in the Passion line and above, we offer eight widths at no additional charge. Customers may also request that we make personalized, made-to-measure forms, with differences between the two feet as needed, beyond the width options we normally offer and in extreme sizes.
In the end why keep us at a time when all manufacturing was mechanized and only seems to count what is seen through a few cosmetic tricks? Well because each of our projects bears our name and we are committed. Because our family independence allows us to. To respect our wonderful profession. Each creation is a tribute to the great shoemakers who have preceded us. Finally and most importantly for the sake of achieving 75 years . It is about comfort, technical skill and distinction Due to this the house has no customers but very loyal friends.
What famous clients passed your door?
I had and have many memorable clients, business leaders, doctors, lawyers, media personalities, famous actors, ministers, kings or presidents of countries around the world …
But you know every client is memorable for me. One of the most famous French actors of his time was a client of my grandfather. He came regularly and one day asked my grandfather if he had recognized him. My grandfather replied that he did, but he is treating him like all the other clients that came to Rue Vivienne store. We always treated all our customers with love, passion, professionalism, respect and friendship. It is the love to and from our customers that made us famous. We have the same heart and the same desire to please all our customers.
As I said, when I am looking at a French or international newscast, I see my clients, but I woun’t say names because for me it is a form of respect … They buy their shoes from me and as such I believe that in the honor that they bring to my house and I can not mention their names. These are the values of my house, found in my shoes and I owe them the discretion. They are simply faithful lovers of shoes, and we find themselves all around. What we are trying to put in our shoes that is important for them and for us.
You offer shoes in more 50 colors. How do you manage to offer a such extend range of color?
We have over 50 colors. 50 colors are the most common, the most requested. When a client request a specific color we talk with our foreman and we see if our tannery has the desired color. We cut a piece and send it to the client for approval
So the number of colors can be infinite. The limitation depends on the skin quality because sometimes the client wants thick leathers that does not have any color. So to resolve this issue we have a young woman who makes great patina. The color depends on the desire of each customer so we can practically say that the number of colors can be infinite. Again this is a customization “à la carte“.
One of our recent customers placed an crocodile order (also a specialty of the house). We kindly ask him to come with us to choose the skin, among the hundreds of leathers that are available. It was a magical moment for us in this division and in this spirit of seeing our customer happy.
An old shoemaker told me once that the most important part in creating a shoe is an invisible process called welting. What techniques do you use?
All parties are important … from choosing the skin until finish. Yes, the welts is somehow the spine of the shoe. We can do everything in terms of type of construction. Blake sewn on, sewn in Norwegian and Goodyear sewn ..
Our Goodyear is special and conceiving it needs a special technique This is for the pleasure to continue to achieve what no longer exists because Aubercy House is one of the last, if not the only one in Paris today that offers a from of the Goodyear shoes hand sewn.
We do not have a machine shop for sewing Goodyear welts and we consider that each shoe should be done like this. It is the hand of the craftsman that gives extra soul, and the ultimate pleasure of having that pare of shoes.
When a shoe is hand sewn Goodyear is a sum of unimaginable things that go beyond the usual. Our shoes have no wall engraving canvas glued but sewn welt handed in the thickness of the first. It is therefore a natural both thick, supple and flawless quality. This density will make each shoe to cast on each footprint. This refinement is enough to say that it is an incomparable hand-sewn. It takes 2 hours to sew one of our pairs the machine does it in 2 minutes.
This is a measurement technique. If the customer wants we can even sew the sole hand, techniques that can not be found in the largely sold pairs that are two to three times more expensive. This is the charm of a small family houses … Everything about us is in the given product that has our love for shoes and not in advertising or store locations.
A shoe could be in many ways compared to a watch. The art of the shoemaker and the skill of the watchmaker. All lovers of technical things evoke the Goodyear mounting. But behind the Goodyear docket can be a an industrial way of doing it. The materials used (Walls burning canvas glued, first as thin as hard …) are very different from those which should be used in a shoe as we imagine it. In this technical field and whatever the scale is, there are many trivial, but some current “whirlwind” or “minute repeater”.
When you are a lover of elegance and shoes you must wear at least once a pair made to measure to see the differences. All can feel the difference besides the real connoisseur.
In fact in the workshop we can do all the techniques by hand from Goodyear moccasin “Tubular” … to true “one cut” or Norwegian style … All the techniques are fun to do …
From all your Aubercy shoes what is the one that you prefer the most?
We are the last family house in Paris 100% artisanal. It is we who decide all according to our designs. So we sign all our shoes in our behalf.
I agree by signing my own name with the presence of my father and my grandfather. This is why I love each of my creations.
Now if you ask me … Surely I have some models that I like: Ellipse for its simplicity and originality
Lawrence wonderful boots with buttons (with hand sewn buttonhole)
Crazy Lace with these laces arranged in complete random order (that has the recognition today (a major star of international cinema told me some time ago: “probably one of the finest in the world moccasin”)
Lupin (by reference to the gentleman thief Arsène Lupin), which is a moccasin so the tab is designed as a mask.
Sigmund with its asymmetrical lacing and of course for its technical characteristic specific for our home.
James, with his brogue five eyelets welt sewn Goodyear made by hand, the must in a dandy’s wardrobe.
If you want to match your shoes in an outfit with what would you match it?
This is what my clients often ask me, this is a game that I love and that makes us seek and invent new things. I have send you a photo of the pair that was request of one of my clients who had a bespoke suit among the general Tailor Camps de Luca in Paris and wanted a tweed pair of shoes that matched his suit.
We talked, it took a while and now he has a pair that are wonderful for him. Our greatest reward is a smile and to know that these so long sought to be achieved shoes are going to be often worn. I could give you lots of names … but you know what matters to me are the company that engage love so they can satisfy their customers … Beethoven said a sentence that touched me deeply “only pure hearts make good soup “tailors that lined with pure heart are a few in France, Italy, England … and in all countries around the world …
What future plans do you have?
New models are created all the time, every month there may be at least two new proposals. In this moment we have till the end of the year 15 to 20 new orders for new models design…. great classics of bi-material models (really wonderful)… very English boots with buttons and fabric leather … And more surprises … There is always something new in Aubercy …
While I am writing these lines one of our loyal and dear customer ( we’ve known each other for 15 years) that manages a large group of international luxury firms told me that our shoes are unique. He has many pairs of shoes but ours make him smile … for him and for all those who landed us their trust we have the pleasure to excel every day … With respect I also recognize and cherish the work of our 8 people who never counted their hours in the workshop … Our foreman often after dinner, goes back in his small workshop and prepares the work for the next day, prepares a hand sewing that has to be done … It is his pleasure and it is our pleasure to continue this for my son or daughter….
Regarding the new shops opening soon we will be present in Korea and we are looking forward to open to the world of people who share our values , our uniqueness, our individuality and those who would want to offer in their shop to their customers these shoes that are made by one of the few last independent family houses in the world … We choose to stay small and keep the family aspect that makes our shoes so different. For me what counts is not the figures but the the pleasure of sharing, getting up every morning with the thought that I am trying to give pleasure dedicating myself to one of the best jobs in the world, fitting feet.
And above all every day, I draw, create, search, find, share this passion for beautiful shoes that have a soul. Our shoes are using the hand and heart of men and women who give full value for them … Our search to make our customers happy continues so we can give them the beautiful shoes with love.
All pictures courtesy of Mr. Xavier Aubercy