Since they began making shoes together in 2004, Deborah Carré and James Ducker have employed time-honoured methods of cordwaining: think hand-sewing welts; employing awls to create holes through the insoles, upper layers and welts; hand-lasting uppers; stitching welts and soles with threads made from twisted, waxed hemp.
And so, with consumers of luxury increasingly engaged with the whys and wherefores of craftsmanship, the London shoemaker has carried off a masterful stroke in deciding to pass on their esoteric skills to people who obsess not only over the look, but the anatomy, of top-quality bespoke footwear. Their new shoe and leather school in Shoreditch, they say, is a response to a swell in demand from people enthusiastic about craft and wanting to fulfil an inherently human need to work with our hands – one that the digital age has left seriously neglected.
“The luxury of handsewn shoes – the fit, comfort and personal styling – is really only experienced by the wearer,” explains Ducker. “Then there are the small signatures of the craftsman that the cognoscenti may note – a closed channel, sole stitching, a bevelled waist, a curved heel breast or fiddle waist – that mark a pair of shoes as handsewn. But much of the construction, skill and technique is invisible. That’s why we’re proud to teach this heritage craft to aspiring shoemakers and enthusiasts from around the world. What could be more luxurious than learning the craft alongside a master shoemaker?”
With half-day, evening, one-day or five-day courses available, students get to customise their own plain or toe-capped Derby, Oxford or full brogue shoes with their own choice of leather and detailing; or, with the 12-day intensive ‘iron man’ course, students start with a pair of lasts, uppers and shoe leather and hand-craft a pair of plain Derby shoes, using traditional tools and techniques, from scratch.
Course prices range from £69 for a small leather goods class to £2,100 for the 12-day shoe making course. 020 7813 0093; firstname.lastname@example.org