Friday, May 29, 2009

Ho hum, back in Blighty. Bit of a shock to the system, actually. Now, while I was working in the States and only had some time off right at the end, it still felt new and exciting. Being back at work here has a mundane sheen. Coupled with a bad dose of jet lag; a house full of dust; and fumbling fingers, it has not been a good week.

However, it is sunny today, warm and clear. How could I not be cheered by a beautiful cycle into work along the canal with all the ducklings and goslings to coo over.

And we have Pitti to prepare for. Starts in 2 weeks, gulp! We have the transport sorted out, tick. We are doing a mail out to potential buyers today, tick. All our marketing materials are here, tick. New samples are here and the rest in hand, tick. Flights and hotels booked, tick. What else could go wrong? Who knows? But we are very excited about it.

We are exhibiting in a section called New Beats, where the organisers invite new companies to participate for the first time. So it is quite an honour to be there, and we hope the start of many visits. We will not be taking any bespoke shoes, just the Limited Editions and the Winkers. The object being to meet potential buyers from retailers and take some orders.

We will of course keep you posted on our progress towards and during the show. After such a great reaction to the Winkers in the US, it will be interesting to see how people from other countries respond to our work. The feedback was that they would work well in warm climates where they could be worn casually with shorts and no socks, but also more formally to evening functions. We shall see.

A great thing happened in America. We were visited at the course by a Mr Bruce Pask of the New York Times. He was fascinated by what we were teaching and by our work. He does a very influential blog called The Moment, specifically Feeling For.... where he muses on his own particular views on style, fashion etc. Hence the name. You can read it at the link below.

The curious thing is the response we have had from it. It has been read by so many people, some of whom have fedback to us about it. Seeing the power of the internet as a marketing tool, I signed carr├ęducker up for Twitter last night. I am flummoxed as to what to do next but I will ask the Other One, who is more savvy than I...

And so, another Friday, another blog post. Onwards and upwards.

Friday, May 22, 2009

San Francisco Trunk Show

Good times! San Francisco has been good to us. The show at the Clift was great. The suite was wonderful, thank you Mr Starke. Specially liked the orange glass-topped table (our bespoke shoes looked amazing on it) and the orange perspex cubes. People say orange is such a difficult colour, but I say be bold and throw some in. Half-cut? Almost definitely. Or should that be constantly?

We had Carolyne Zinko from the SF Chronicle come with a photographer. They are doing a glossy supplement (San Francisco Is) in July, so look out for that. Again, the Winkers were the stars of the show. It is funny how certain things work better in one territory or another. Obviously delighted about it. I have the hope that Leffot in New York will stock them too, so watch out America!

Thank you so much Paul and Antoine for all the help and support. Looks like you are stuck with regular visits from us now.

And now what? Well, I am in Calistoga, Napa Valley, waiting for the fog to burn off before going wine tasting; eating a hog sized lunch; then sleeping it off by the pool with occasional dips into the limpid water. Yes, bespoke shoemakers sometimes relax too.

Napa really is wonderful, it has a very Mediterranean look; great climate; and is only an hour from the city. Hello!

And so my US trip comes to an end. Home on Saturday, in time for the Bank Holiday. Really can't wait to see my little elves again. It's been a lot of fun. The bespoke shoe making course was great, as was New York and our lovely host Jesse. The trunk show at Leffot was equally great. And the California leg was pure pleasure (apart from the pre-show nerves). Can't wait to come back in November.

By the way, my hands are like 2 lumps of soft putty. My nails have never been cleaner and I am gagging to get back to my table; pick up my knife; and make some beautiful handmade shoes. Or boots. Or pumps. It's been way too long.

I am having an IT malfunction, so I am going to publish this as text only with pics to follow. I have them, but cannot upload right now. Watch this space.

Friday, May 15, 2009

New York Shoemaking Course

Twice in one day, phew!

The course has finished and the students have left. All have finished the shoes and are inspired to make more.

It is always a last minute rush to finish and people cannot believe you need 90 hours to do it, but you do.

Very satisfying moment when they try the finished pair on.

I think they all did pretty well, and the finished shoes are not bad at all. Some had more cuts and scuffs than others, but I always say that they are 'learning marks' and should not be regretted. If you have a reminder of what not to do, you don't forget so quickly.

Off to San Francisco tomorrow on the next leg of my trip. Missing my Pearl, but looking forward to the trunk show on Tuesday and many new customers. Wish me luck!

New York Shoemaking Course

Last day in New York. A bit sad I suppose. It has been a great stay. The course has been a pleasure, but a very familiar gig. The trunk show at Leffot however, was new and exciting. It went extremely well.

The response to our collection was positive; we took some orders; and it showed me that there is certainly a place for designs which stray from the well trodden path of men's leather-soled shoes. As a first venture into the US market it was very satisfying. I just hope that the show at Clift in San Francisco goes as well on Tuesday.

The surprise star of the show was the Winker Slip-on. I believe it could be a real success for us here. Steven at Leffot certainly thought so.

By the way, if you read this Steven, we would like to thank you and H for all your help and support and hope that you will host our return visit in the Fall. I think the store is a perfect showcase for our shoes and it was a pleasure working with you.

So it's goodbye to Billyburg; the beautiful people here (specially you Jesse); the wet weather (New York in Spring? Don't make me laugh); and the best doughnuts in the world.

I saw Paul W, my master shoemaker trainer guru, which was a pleasure. He seemed very happy with work and NYC, but misses shoe making. No big surprise there, old friend. With your soft hands and itchy feet, you gotta pick some tools up and hammer some leather!

The life of a shoemaker is a happy one!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

New York Shoemaking Course

So, here I am in New York City, having taught 3 days of class and done our first trunk show at Leffot in the West Village. It's been really exciting and we got a very positive response from customers. We met a lot of new faces and we even had a carreducker follower turn up all the way from Pittsburgh, we love you M, you know who you are.

Leffot is some shoe store. In fact those words do not do it justice. Perhaps shoe mecca would be better. Sparse and sophisticated; wallpapers by my old friend Ali at Timorous Beasties; a huge sweep of a table; and a few choice pieces to focus the client on the array of handsome shoes. Check out the boot stool at the cash desk. All perfect for carreducker really. Thank you Steven Taffel for all your help and support.

The hit of the day was the Winker slip-on (I cannot post an image right now but check it out on the Winkers page of We have 2 more colourways in production as we speak, which we will debut at Pitti in June.

The class too has been a real success. The students all seem happy and motivated. Many blistered hands and tired arms, but they are all on target and will finish their shoes. I have taken some pics bit I am on a Mac and am not sure whether I will be able to upload them. I am hoping that this will become a regular bespoke shoemaking course here in Brooklyn.

Meeting my master shoemaker on Tuesday, Paul Wilson, who trained myself and the Other One. He now works for JL Paris as their bespoke shoe guru in the States. Based in NYC but he travels round the place. Really looking forward to seeing him again. It's been a while.

Day off today, it's sunny and warm, so I am off out to have a wander. Should be good!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Cut Away Shoes

And here we are, the end of the first week of the course in New york. The Other One says it is going well. It's all women, which is unusual. She is also visiting menswear shops and building relationships there. The US is a big market and we would love to get a toehold and build from there. The trunk show is generating quite a lot of interest and we are expecting a good turn out. The same goes for the Clift in San Francisco. That should be a great show and I am really looking forward to it.

Going to miss Kitty and Pearl though. 3 weeks is long time. In fact Kitty will be twice as old when I get back as now. Funny thought. And my house will be transformed too. New bathroom, should be good.

As for bespoke shoes and bespoke shoemaking, I will miss that. My hands will soften up! I have helpful protective pads at strategic places on my fingers, in just the right places. Amazing thing, Nature. And it means painful blisters when I get back to making. Ho hum.

Here are those funny cut away shoes. Strange thing has happened. After seeing them so much, I am used to the look and it does not seem so odd to me. Does this mean that these lines and measures are just convention? I was taught technical reasons for everything to measure what it does. But maybe this is merely justifying it retrospectively. No, if we wore shoes like these, we would get very wet in the rain. And people might snigger as we walked past, catching a glimpse of our socks. Believe me, that would not do for a dapper, style-savvy gent about town.

So, finally, dear followers, please wish me luck and let me say that I will blog if I can, but if I don't, then please forgive me.