Friday, October 28, 2011

St Crispin's Day 2011

With the arrival of St. Crispin's Day, we at carréducker thought we ought to celebrate the patron saint of shoemakers' feast day with an event (and before I forget, it must also be said that our own St Hugh sits happily alongside St Crispin as another patron saint of shoemakers, hence the name for our tools, St Hugh's bones). So we decided to have a week of live shoemaking demonstrations in the window of the Gieves and Hawkes' flagship store at Number 1 Savile Row.

With the window dressed as an old time shoemakers' workshop, complete with low table; vintage tools; leathers; lasts; and a few of our finest bespoke shoes of course, Deborah and I have sat in there making shoes and entertaining the passing shoppers. Although the weather has not been entirely kind to us all week, passers-by have shown a huge interest, with crowds, 3 deep at times, peering in and stopping for long periods.

We started on Tuesday which was St Crispin's Day itself, and to get into the spirit of the window, Deborah dressed in vintage clothing, rounded off with a splendid top hat from Bentleys. She looked quite Dickensian and turned many a head.

Here she is lasting a pair for a fitting. As you can see, the space is tiny, but we shoemakers can make a little go a long way.

I love this shot with the three people ghosted in the reflection. The public really enjoyed the show. It is not often they get to see a traditional craft such as ours at such close quarters.

Deborah also made a twenty minute black and white video of us working in the Bloomsbury workshop. This is running on a loop on a vintage TV which looks fantastic, complete with silent movie style captions and shaky camera work (not sure if that is deliberate or not). It runs through all the processes an fills the time when we are on breaks from the demonstrations.

This is the view of the whole window from across the street. More pictures can be seen on the website.

All in all, it has been a great week for us. And I think St Crispin and St Hugh must have also enjoyed the celebrations and smiled down upon us because we have had a bumper week of orders - excellent!

And that, dear shoemakers of the world, is a wrap. We hope you have enjoyed the week and we look forward to meeting up again next Friday. Until then though, happy shoemaking!

Friday, October 21, 2011

October '11 Trunk Show Part 2 - New York City

So after a great few days in Chicago (great city,by the way), we went last Sunday to the Plaza in New York for Round 2. Recently renovated, we had a super luxurious suite on the 12th Floor - gorgeous. As you can see, the room looked wonderful.

We saw plenty of customers, both for fittings and new orders, so, all in, a successful trip. Can't wait for March when we return.

Met a couple of aspiring shoemakers on Tuesday evening which was good. Keep up the good work - you know who you are!

There was talk from various old students and others of doing a masterclass of some sort when we are there next May for the regular class. To do something advanced like a bevelled waist or Norwegian welt. So just sounding out a potential audience, are there any of you out there who would sign up for such a thing? The format is uncertain. It could be a practical class where you do it, or a demo where we show you how it's done.
Let us know what you think.

Wednesday morning at 10.30 saw the last customer appointment and then we packed up and went home. Spent a great afternoon with our friend Jesse, including a trip to Evolution, a great store in Soho which specialises in bugs, butterflies, skeletons, fossils and taxidermy. I love that stuff! And a trip to The Morgan Library And Museum rounded off the afternoon. French drawings from the Louvre at the time of the French Revolution. The kind of mix of high art and popular culture you only get when shown round a place by a local.

And so to JFK for our flight home. Unfortunately we had a 4 hour delay, so I am now a tripped out space cadet who is just waking up as midnight approaches. So much for melatonin. No escaping jet lag people!

But back home I am and very pleased too. It was a great trip, met a lot of new customers and I believe it will be the start of something big for carréducker.

Next week will be service as normal (if I am not still in la la land). So, until then fellow shoemakers of the world, happy shoemaking.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

History Of A Shoe Part 2

I know that James will want to tell you all about his travels in person next week, so for this week's post I'm going to catch up with two shoemaking stories we have been following over the last few posts...and to remind you to come along to say hello when we are making in the Gieves & Hawkes flagship store window next week, to celebrate St Crispin's and St Hugh's Day.

The first shoemaking story is our new offering of rubber-soled bespoke shoes and the first pair of bespoke shoes with rubber soles, due to be delivered to our customer next week.
We prepare the shoes as usual by hand but when it comes to welting we welt all of the way around the shoe creating what is called a welted seat at the heel. Our welts come pre-cut so we have to attached an extra section to complete the welt. where the welt sections are joined together, the ends have to be bevelled where they overlap so that they create a single, even thickness welt all the way around.Then the shoes are sent to a specialist company which attaches the sole and trims, stains and finishes it. We are really excited to be able to offer customers an alternative to leather soles and to be able to offer a more flexible choice of bespoke styles. Crepe soled, nubuck desert boots anybody?
Rather handsome don't you agree? Already a bespoke customer, our client wanted a pair of walking shoes for the weekends and chose a traditional English grain derby for the uppers. the sole is a Dainite sole (our favourite) which is sturdy enough for a good country walk, but not so cleated that the wearer ends up with half an inch of mud stuck to the bottom of his shoes.

We hope that he is thrilled as we are when we deliver them to him.

The second part of this post continues James' 'History of a shoe' post. Once made, the all-white shoes were sent with a watch strap as inspiration to be antiqued. Unfortunately they look quite blue in the pictures but are actually a subtle combination of purpley grey and black.
They have been stripped back and layer upon layer of dye has been applied to achieve this wonderful patina...

The same wonderful polisher transformed our acorn brogue oxford and loafers... gorgeous aren't they?

Don't forget to look out for us in Gieves window next Tuesday if you are passing. Until next week then, happy shoemaking and happy St Crispin's Day!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

One down one to go!

So word from the USA is that Chicago was a great success with new orders taken and our new Mayfair collection and the offer of rubber soled bespoke going down a storm.

Mr Ducker will be heading off to NY today ready for two and a half days in the glamorous surroundings of The Plaza on Central Park (who says a shoemaker's life is all hard work and no fun?) Yes, he'll be working but I think that the view alone will be worth it! Wish us luck in New York - remember to put word about to the bespoke fans out there!

In the mean time here are some shots of the styles we showed in Chicago - elegant styles in what is a very beautiful city by all accounts...can't wait, my turn next time!

Thursday, October 13, 2011


With Mr Ducker off to far shores on our first ever joint Trunk Show trip with Gieves & Hawkes, it's my turn to take up the blogging mantle for a couple of weeks...hence it is a little late!
InterContinental Chicago
We are really excited about the trip. Chicago, where he is at the moment, is a new City for us but we already have two clients to see for fittings and many more new bespoke tailoring customers to meet and to introduce to the wonderful world of bespoke shoes. Timing was everything getting ready for the trip and we are really fortunate to have some very good suppliers...trees turned up, our new rubber sole samples arrived and, sighs of relief all around, the boxes of bespoke sample shoes arrived safely in Chicago just ahead of James.
So he is set and raring to go. Wish us luck! And if you have any bespoke fans in the wonderful City that is Chicago please tell them about this wonderful opportunity. Top to toe bespoke in one appointment - it doesn't get much better than that if you're a busy gentleman!

Whilst we've been getting ready for the trip we have also been preparing for our living windows event in late October. As I am, sure many of you know Tuesday, 25 October is St Crispin and St Hugh's Day - both patron saints of shoemakers (French and English respectively). St Crispin is the more commonly known.

The day is more commonly given over to revelry so we thought that it would be fun to bring some theatre to Gieves' windows. James and I shall be taking it in turns from 25 - 27th October actually making in the shop window on Vigo street. We want to attract as much of a crowd as possible so please tell your friends! We will be in the window at 10.30, 12.30 and 3.30pm. And when we are not in situ there's a short film on the telly that tells the story. But if you can, come by when we're live to say hi!

We are also getting our Christmas gift packaging together so lady customers visiting Gieves have an easy decision when it comes to treating the man in their life...whether he is 'the man who has everything', the 'man impossible to buy for' or the 'man who is worth it'! Our lovely Promises are now packed in beautiful new boxes, ribbon tied with soft grey tissue paper...perfect for the main event or a stocking filler!

Gorgeous I am sure you agree!

Finally to the Mayfair's a quick snapshot of the new range...classic, understated, conservative and with the finest bespoke waists and detailing. We designed the collection to appeal to new customers who want something that will easily compliment their personal style and lifestyle. What do you think?

Well until next week - when I'll show you the preparation for a rubber soled bespoke shoe, happy shoemaking!

Friday, October 7, 2011

History Of A Shoe

Welcome back, dear readers, to another post from carréducker. I know a week is a long time to wait, but, I think you will agree, the wait was worth it.

This week we finished the second shoe in our Mayfair Collection, a series of all black classics, including a straight cap Oxford; a wholecut; a wingcap derby; and a saddle loafer. There are slight differences to the left and right shoes to give the client an idea of the options available. The Mayfair Collection is the more sombre side of our design ethos, showing the customer that, with sleek curves, timeless toe shapes and a beautiful waist, carréducker can deliver you to work, not only in comfort, but in understated style too. You sold yet?

Punch detailing is available on the toe.

And so to making, this week I am going to take you through the genesis of a pair of shoes from start to finish. And I have picked a fairly interesting shoe to do it which has a few surprises.

These are for one of our favourite clients who always chooses interesting styles and colours. Remember those lovely pigskin Derbies?

And the Norwegian welted grain boots?

Well, here are his next pair. Starting off with blocking the insole. Soaked insole shoulder. Glassed the skin side. Chalk on the skin side and ready to go.

He has arch support, so we left it full on the inside waist.

All blocked and ready to rock.

Cut the waist support (insole up in waist) to the mark and do both lasts.

Skive away so that it is smooth but still has substance.

Draw the line of where the cover will reach. It must go under where the sock will eventually be.

Make a paper pattern with an overlap onto the other side.

Cut two pieces remembering to reverse the pattern for a left and right.
Skive as in the picture.

Cover with contact adhesive. Also the insoles, which you have taken off the lasts at this point.

Glue the side where the sock will be first along the line you drew. Then turn it over and make some notches in the leather.

Fold down the kid. Don't you just love the grape coloured lining?

Nail the insole back in place on the last.

Prepare your insole as normal.

Insert your stiffeners between the upper and the lining. Noticed the colour of the upper yet?

Last the forepart as normal, leaving the heel about 1cm above the top of the last.

Pull down the back and nail in place. White uppers! There is a surprise here though.

Undo the forepart and last on the toe puff.

Shape it with your knife and a rasp. Then glue in the side linings. Shape them too to get a smooth transition.

Re-last the upper at the front and welt the shoes.

Leather shank and cork filler in the forepart. Looking good.

Trim the welt to the desired width, in this case, a regular welt.

And that was the first day. More in 2 weeks because I will be in Chicago and New York next week and the lovely Deborah will be blogging next time.

Wish me luck at out trunk shows.

So until we meet again, happy shoemaking!