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The shoemaking process

Posted by Andrew McDonald on

Tags: leather, shoemakers blog, shoemaking process, slow fashion, sustainability, sutainable fashion
The shoemaking process

Factory made vs handmade made 

 First and foremost, you’re looking at comfort. A pair of bespoke shoes is made specifically for the customer, and for each foot separately. An off-the-rack factory made shoe is always made on a generic last a 3-dimensional wooden or plastic mould upon which the shoe is constructed, so there is always going to be a compromise in the fitting. A handmade shoe is also much higher quality than a ready-to-wear shoe made by a specialist craftsman.

The sustainable feature of bespoke handmade shoes is fit. Factory made shoes do not always fit, this is why 70% of people surveyed said they own shoes that do not fit. What this means is that billions of pairs of shoes made in factories each year never get worn or are thrown into landfill. 


Made to measure bespoke 


Feet are like fingerprints each foot is unique. At A.McDonald Shoemaker we make a trace of each person’s feet to ensure that the shoes are fitted to your unique shape, rarely are both your feet the same measurements. Custom shoes ensure each shoe is made for your unique feet. 


Style selection 

I would always recommend that the customer go for a classical shoe to begin with. Something that is going to be timeless that they can wear with any outfit, something that’s going to be versatile. If you decide to go and order more shoes, then we can start thinking about something a little bit more unique.

 Even if you requests a classic shoe, it can be designed with a twist. Some really unique details, like monogramming, or unique pattern or punch hole detailing a myriad of personal customisation is available.


 The main issue when buying hand made shoes is the delayed gratification of purchase. It takes anywhere from 6-10weeks before your first pair of shoes are delivered, with three appointments minimum to ensure the fit and overall design is accurate.Thereafter it will then take 4-6 weeks for any new order to be delivered.

Brief description of make process 

 Once your measurements have been taken a wooden form of the customer’s foot will be created this is called a last. From this last a form will be created. This will be sent to the pattern cutter—who will choose the leather that the customer has specified, and make a pattern for the client’s particular last. No two patterns are the same.

The pieces of leather will go to what is called the closer/upper stitcher whom  will  assemble the pieces into the upper of the shoe. This will then be stretched over the customer’s last, and nailed into place. Depending on the construction welt stitched or Blake stitched, the maker will attach upper to the sole and heel. It will then goes to our specialist in the polishing/patina department who will attain the unique patina that you have requested.


How long will a pair of handmade shoes last ?

The shoes have a very strong construction, and are made from the highest-quality leather. If they are well looked after by the customer, they can last anywhere from 7-15 years. But if a customer is going to wear their shoes every day, in all kinds of weather and terrain, then the shoes will not last that long.


Care of your shoes 

 The customer journey with A.McDonald does not end with the collection of your shoes but continues for the life of your shoes . We will remind you to bring your shoes into our workshop to have them polished and cared for.  We sell a range of shoe care products: polish, brush's and cedar shoe trees which we can craft to your bespoke shoes. Making sure shoe trees are kept in your shoes and by keeping the leather well polished , your shoes can last for many years. 



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