|Picture Courtesy of: Style Forum|
Just over 8 years ago marked my entrance into the shoe industry, a day that I will never forget and will forever be grateful to the people that hired me, giving me a chance to discover what would soon be my future passion: shoes. I never would I have really guessed (the day that I was hired) that I would be where I am today within this industry and seeing all of the changes that have occurred since that time. I really feel proud of the shoe industry and am happy of all of the changes that I have seen happen, whether good or bad, as progression takes time and error to get right. That being, while there are many more things that have happened that make me proud, there are 5 in particular that really stand out to me that I wish to highlight today.
|Gaziano & Girling|
The first two have to do with the fact that I am an American, born and raised, and have always felt that my country was a bit behind (and overly conservative as a whole) when it came to wearing great clothing and footwear, and putting it together. Now, if you are American, don't be overly proud and take offense to that statement as I am saying it with an objective outlook. I am a very proud American myself which is why this idea concerned me so and which is therefore why I wanted to do something about it, at least in the shoe department. That being, the two things below have been of great importance to me and my thoughts on American progression within the shoe industry.
Allen Edmonds - Less Conservative, More Fun and Still Good Quality
|Picture Courtesy Of: Patrick McCabe, Photo owned by Mark Van Holden Photography|
When I first got into shoes, I can tell you that I was not the biggest fan of Allen Edmonds. I liked some of things that they did, but overall felt that they were a bit too conservative and only offered products that were for the older gentleman. But as the years have gone by, it would appear that they have been branching out, doing a lot more with two toned shoes, full brogues in abnormal colors and laces of various shades outside of black and brown. It's almost as if they have been reading the blog, as cocky as that sounds :-). Nevertheless, I love to see the change, and am proud of them for breaking out of that mold that they seem to have been stuck in for so long....
Great US Shoe Stores: Leffot & Leather Soul
|Leffot; Picture Courtesy of: A Suitable Wardrobe|
This occurrence is probably the thing that has made me most happy as it involves the spreading of good shoes that might otherwise have been nearly impossible to get ahold of without purchasing a plane ticket to Europe. And the geniuses behind these two stores, saw this problem and decided to change it by bringing the good shoes into the States, allowing for more Americans to be educated on the fine footwear of Europe and have the ability to then easily purchase it. My hat will forever be tipped to Steven Taffel and Tom Park for founding these great stores.
|Leather Soul; Picture Courtesy of: Sleevehead|
While the idea of offering custom patina's might have been something prevalent for some time in France, it has only just recently hit the world by storm thanks to the likes of shoe brand Septieme Largeur, French solo patina artists such as Paulus Bolten, Hom Nguyen and others artists such as Landry Lacour and Alexander Nurulaeff. These artists (and shoe brands) have given to the people that never wanted just a black or brown shoe the ability to get whatever color of shoe that they want! And because of that, it has become a huge phenomenon that I only feel will continue to grow more and more....
Saint Crispins & Gaziano & Girling
|Gaziano & Girling|
In the last few years, these two brands have catapulted into stardom, and rightly so. Gaziano & Girling took the shoe industry by storm, having both spent many years working for others only to branch out and start offering some of the most beautiful and well made shoes in the world. Because of this, after only being about 6 years old, they are already on the same level as other companies that have been around for over 100 years....
Saint Crispins on the other hand, has taken a new approach to offering shoes, by making the them completely by hand, but then offering them as Ready To Wear. This is a very hard method of shoe selling, but they have managed to do just fine at it. They have not only created some of the most beautiful shoes in the world (and out of a country that no one would expect: Romania - where there are other brilliant makers as well) but have done some shoe styles that to me, have blown the socks off many other makers, in the sense that they are not afraid to give some color and new design elements to existing styles.
And because of the amazing work that both of these brands have done, the majority of fine shoe stores across the world are all knocking on their door to stock them....
Bespoke Shoemakers - Ever So Prevalent
|Craig Corvin: Seattle Bespoke Shoemaker|
This is more just an observation of what I have noticed since entering the shoe industry, and not so much a fact, as I really don't know what it was like prior to 10 years ago, but I do feel that in this day and age, there are so many people out there who are eager to learn the art of bespoke shoemaking. The reason that I feel that it is a lot more common in this day and age, is the fact that we now have so many more options to go out and do so, mainly because of the internet. Today it is a lot easier to access a shoemaker, easier to find their email and easier to get ahold of them. And even if you don't, so many people out there have taught themselves, by reading books or studying the blogs of shoemakers that show step by step how to make a shoe. And because of this, the art will continue to thrive....
Like I have said in the beginning of this post, there are many more things that have occurred that are worth praise and many other shoemakers that have come in and changed up the game, but naming it all would simply take too long. All I can say is that it has been an exciting 10 years in the shoe industry, and I can only look forward to the next 10!