While I normally reserve Sunday for family day, as I am sure that many of you do too, I couldn't help but feel compelled to write something today, a day that represents a truly sad time in the shoe world. For those of you whom do not know, Mr. Stefano Bemer, a great shoemaker and artist, passed away yesterday. While this may come as a complete surprise to many of you, I shall make you aware that Stefano has actually been fighting a terrible illness for some time now, even as long ago as when I was there, 3 years back.
While I am no expert at knowing what to say or do during these types of times, I do know that as a once apprentice of Stefano as well as an aspiring figure in the shoe industry, it is my honor to pay tribute to a man that not only affected my life in a positive manner, but has also positively affected the lives of many others.
|The shoe that made me, my character, that has and will always influence me, designed by Stefano Bemer - his version in dark brown/orange|
Stefano was a true artist. He made shoes for the love of making shoes. Never did he let this love become affected by fame, money, celebrity or anything else that can often stray many alike. This is something that I respected deeply about him. I won't lie, during a time when we embarked on a journey together to sell his shoes in America, he stood firm in never selling lower than what he felt his shoes were worth. During a time of economic strife for all, this ultimately led to zero orders, which meant continued tough times for his company. In my naivete, I found him stubborn in a business sense. But after I left him, moved on to England and started truly understanding the way things work in the shoe industry, I would often look back in admiration knowing that Stefano would never sell himself or allow for his product to be thought of as less than it was actually worth, not for any amount of money or recognition. This takes courage and it was not something that I understood then. Is is something that I can look up to now, as I now understand that he was a man who fought for what he believed in, never allowing for his ideals and values to be purchased for the chance to grow exponentially. A true artist who loved his art.....
My time in his workshop truly served as a the growth for my deep and profound love of shoes. My curiosity in footwear, the knowledge of it and the understanding of making it, would have allowed me to inspect every inch of that workshop day after day, in the hopes to learn something new. It was there I understood what makes a shoe, what makes it's value, it's worth, it's desire. It was there I got to understand what "Hand Made" truly means. It was there I was able to understand why art is beautiful, why people will pay upwards of +£2000 for a pair of shoes and why there is nothing more beautiful than a finished piece of bespoke footwear. It was there I got to spend my first time with a true artist, to understand that while business is business, there is no business in the shoe industry if one does not have a bit of artist in him/her. Shoes are pieces of art, things to be proud of, to feel good about, to cherish, to look after, to hand down and to love, all things that I learned in Stefano's workshop. It was there that I learned how to shine shoes, an ability that has provided me with much recognition and growth during my time in London. I owe this to Stefano, a man that was kind enough to take me on as an apprentice; some young, eager American kid with the hopes to start his own shoe line. Without this chance, I might still be in America figuring out a way to chase my dreams. His opportunity led me to where I am now and I will forever be grateful to him for that.
|Some of the most beautiful shoes ever.....|
It makes me sad to know that his RTW shoes never made it big across the world. In my humble opinion, they were just as good as the John Lobb's, the Edward Green's, the Gaziano & Girling's. They were among the best, but not many people were able to experience this. This is one of the reasons that I started my blog, to actively seek out shoemakers around the world that could be just as good as the best, but don't have the ability to market themselves as such. This unfortunately became the case for Stefano, and now that he has passed, it may forever be the case. This brings me deep regret........ And while I plan to start my own shoe line which I hope to sell across the world, I promise to always be in search of new, young talent that I can promote (as The Shoe Snob) so that great footwear will always be known among the masses and not something that slipped by, only known to the few.
|My friends that helped teach me what I know today|
I now feel as if I am rambling on in search of more to say, due to the sadness of the occasion. I will leave it as such by saying that yesterday a great man died, a man that we should always remember as a positive influence in the men's bespoke shoe industry, a man that made it possible for many people to pave a path to their dreams, a man that believed always in the notion that bespoke shoes should be made with passion and love.....