Article by Kostas Mandilaris All The How-To Manuals Shoes May 25, 2021
OK I guess

As a craft, shoemaking is fascinating.

Those who appreciate fine footwear may have pondered the question, "How do people make shoes?"

This brings us to today's question, which is, for most people, merely a passing thought. In 2021, where can serious shoemakers hone their craft?

In this piece, I'll go over the few resources for getting started, such as courses and guides.

Let's get acquainted with the shoemaking process (and perhaps even visit a factory)

...But It's A Drifting Industry

Many older occupations are being phased out due to globalization and the drive to make everything faster and more efficient.

Why spend 60 hours making one shoe by hand when you can crank out a hundred pairs with a machine?

That, along with the never-ending push for consumer goods by profit-driven propaganda, is a major factor in his It's unfortunate that the skill of shoemaking has been one of the most threatened.

With the advent of the Goodyear Welted machine and the recent boom in industrialization, producing high-quality footwear in a short amount of time is simpler and faster than ever before.

Still, many consumers value the skill and care that goes into a handmade shoe. Whether it's Made to Order or Handmade

Together with master shoemakers, they are the last of their kind. We are holding firm, and our devotion to traditional shoemaking techniques remains undimmed.

When and where can I start taking classes in shoemaking?

However, a critical issue remains: "Where can I find a school to learn shoemaking?" ”

Earlier today, as I was mulling over what I should write about this week, it hit me: When I tried to teach myself, I had no idea what I was doing. Well, I might as well assist those who are seeking it,

The desire to learn how to make shoes is not the problem. The difficulty lies in locating reliable resources.

If you do a search on Google, you'll find plenty of resources geared toward hobbyists, as well as the terrifying WikiHow.

The WikiHow Approach to Shoe Construction

Nonetheless, there are a few methods that can help you learn shoemaking properly, and we will cover them all today.

A word of warning: these are by no means the only options for gaining knowledge in the art of shoemaking. There are a ton of them available, but these are my top picks.

1 Training Programs in Shoemaking

The first step toward becoming a skilled cobbler is to attend a reputable shoemaking institution.

This is the best option whether your goal is serious study or casual expansion of your knowledge.

1.1 The Stefano Bemer School, A Program of Schola Academy

The Stefano Bemer class is currently among the top institutions for learning the art of shoemaking.

Before his untimely death from illness in 2012, Stefano Bemer was widely regarded as one of the industry's top shoemakers.

One of Stefano's legacies is the knowledge he passed on to others about shoemaking. The Schola Academy in Florence, which had taken over the brand after his death, continued to offer courses in shoemaking long after he had passed away.

You can sign up at one of three different tiers:

  • Apprenticeship: Newcomers can enroll in a three-month training program that costs €8,000 (about ,775).
  • As the next step up from the Apprentice level, Artigiano is a more advanced and intermediate course that lasts for three months.
  • Master's Degree: A Selective Program of About 4 Months' Duration Following Completion of the Artigiano

This master's degree in shoemaking at the Stefano Bemer Shoemaking School is no joke.

You'll start at square one and work your way up to the Master Level if you're lucky (and competent) enough to catch the eye of a specific master. It would be amazing to collaborate directly with a true Bespoke Shoemaker.

Eight to twelve students from all over the world are accepted each time, and they must apply and go through an interview process to be accepted. You have two opportunities per year to submit an application for classes: in February and August.

There is a significant discount for signing up for both the Apprentice and Artigiano Levels, however, saving you €13800 ($16850) if you pay before the end of the year. If you're only interested in the first three months, you can pay €8000 (75).

The requirement of a move to Italy, specifically Florence, is one of the "cons." In the month of February 2022, I will be moving there to begin my own adventure.

1.2.1 Janne Melkersson's Lesson Plan

When visiting Sweden, you must see Janne Melkersson.

An incredibly charming elderly gentleman and Bespoke Shoemaker, he is said to have been the model for several of Gaziano & Girling's lasts.

He owns Melker Shoes, where he sells a Courses in shoemaking that last one or two weeks one on one

Melker Shoes' Janne Melkersson

The price per week is 27000 SEK ($3000) and the price per two weeks is 50000 SEK (00).

The one-on-one instruction, lodging, meals, and other benefits may outweigh the high price and limited time commitment. You will also copy all of Janne's patterns and make 2 pairs of handmade, custom shoes to keep.

A person who wants to make shoes as a hobby or get their feet wet would benefit from such a course.

Mr. Mrsan, Marcell (Koronya Shoes).

American-based Hungarian shoemaker Marcell

His desire to teach others about shoemaking outweighs any potential financial gain.

He signed up for a shoemaking class before Covid hit, but it appears to have been cancelled.

From the desk of Marcell Mrsan, Koronya Shoes

Even so, he has a lot to offer with Channel on YouTube the likes of which may include holding workshops

It would be worthwhile to see if he is teaching again once the world opens back up a little.

1.4 - Carreducker

The truth is, I don't know nearly as much as I'd like to about Carreducker.

However, it was one of the earliest discoveries I made when I began exploring the world of footwear many years ago.

Their UK-based services include a "Bespoke Service," the sale of shoemaking materials, and the provision of both instruction and practice opportunities.

https://www carreducker com/shop/shoemaking-classes/shoe-making-course/shoe-making-training/

Although I have yet to figure out how workshops work, they seem to have plenty of them for people who want to improve their shoemaking skills or ask related questions.

You may find yourself purchasing equipment and supplies from them if you are a seasoned veteran.

1.5 Colleges and Individual Study

Some schools offer courses in fashion, rendering, and design, but these can take a number of semesters or even years to complete.

That's not a problem if you're young, but it gets a lot harder if you decide to go into this line of work when you're older.

In addition to the high cost, I find the emphasis on electronic work and theory, rather than practical application, to be problematic.

Visit Northampton University, London College of Fashion, and any other relevant schools.

Step Two: Find an Apprenticeship

Becoming an Apprentice is the best, but also the most challenging, way to learn how to make shoes.

By "Apprentice," I mean that you would find an experienced shoemaker and take on the role of his "pupil," gradually gaining the knowledge and skills necessary to become a successful member

This may sound fantastic, but actually locating one is quite challenging. Acceptance by them is the real challenge.

In 2019, I had the opportunity to apply for an apprenticeship at (who is now a good friend), Bespoke Shoemaker Norman Vilalta.

Expert cobbler Norman Vilalta | Image courtesy of Sin Abrochar

A great, kind guy whose love of footwear mirrors my own. He later quit his job in Argentina's corporate sector and relocated to Florence, where he studied under the tutelage of Stefano Bemer (see the link). ) before relocating to Barcelona and establishing his own machine shop

That is to say, if you are truly interested in shoemaking, you should seek out a well-respected Bespoke maker or cordwainer in your local area. Walk up to them, talk to them, and get to know them.

You can be of service while expanding your knowledge.

Do It Yourself (or DYI) 3.

Learning to do something on your own has a certain allure and sense of accomplishment.

Making shoes is possible like any other craft, but there are some pitfalls you should avoid.

Here, let me tell you a tale.

In 2009, I made the decision to become a boxer and immediately sought out the top instructor in my area.

That very same day, a man who had previously trained with me for six months joined us.

Six months into our training, I had already surpassed him by a significant margin. Why, he inquired of his instructor, had that occur?

Since he had to start from scratch, he learned the fundamentals correctly Because of the faulty foundation you were built on, I had to teach you everything from scratch.

That is to say, if you learn on your own, you take full responsibility for any mistakes you make. Also, there is no one around to instruct you.

Self-improvement will necessitate a great deal more time, energy, and study.

Please take a look at these recommended resources.

Laszlo Vass's Handmade Men's Size 3.1 Shoes

It's funny, because I reviewed the same book not too long ago for the Vass Budapest Shoe Blog.

This Brand's creator, Laszlo Vass, authored a book that is a gold mine of data.

While you might not walk away knowing how to make shoes, you should have a better grasp of the reasoning behind their construction and individual parts.

According to Simon Sinek, "Why" can be more crucial than "How" at times.

3.2 The Cordwaining Forum on Reddit

Reddit is a fascinating website full of oddities, inanity, memes, and useful data.

It's a fantastic resource for learning about new topics of interest and connecting with welcoming groups of people.

One can go to a subreddit called " r/Cordwaining that has a very useful wiki that contains a lot of the information you'll need

Don't forget to look into it

Chapter Three Point Three Three The Hidden Cobbler

The Secret Cobbler is one of the most incredible Do It Yourself shoemaking tales.

He is a countryman of yours who also happens to be a self-taught shoemaker from Sweden.

In the strongest possible terms, I urge you to Intently perusing his blog What he did in those four years is truly remarkable.

A sample of the January 2021 Secret Cobbler's work

Especially in his earlier entries, he lists the books and videos that served as inspiration and guidance.

Those of you who are interested in learning shoemaking on your own will find him an encouraging role model, I'm sure.

Whether or not it's beneficial to learn shoemaking skills

Everything in life is a matter of degree.

Look elsewhere for financial success if selling shoes is your goal.

Making shoes is an art that requires dedication, sweat, and blood, but the rewards are worth it.

It's great whether you're doing it for fun or as your job. Those of us in the footwear business (including myself) should also give this some thought.

Although I am a perfectionist and do gain knowledge over time, I'd like to grow my company and learn more about its products. You need to understand the function of every part and determine whether or not a given shortcut is worthwhile.

If you are looking for shoemaking classes online, you most likely fall into the second group.


In that case, where would you recommend I go to finish my shoemaking education?

So, if you can afford it, the best option for formal education in the field of shoemaking is to enroll in a school specifically dedicated to the trade.

Or, if you have a local shoemaker, pay them a visit, take a tour of their facilities, and establish a working relationship with them. A potential apprentice could be sought out someday, but who knows.

Finally, learning how to make shoes from scratch is possible, though the learning curve is steep and extensive study is required.

However, I would love to read your responses below, and even more so, I hope to meet you in Florence in 2022.

If you found this article helpful, please let me know and subscribe to receive a 10% discount on The Noble Shoe.

Your attention is appreciated.

Dr. Kostas Mandilaris,
University of Misiu