Yesterday, I encouraged all thrifty fashionistas to visit the cobbler to make your favorite shoes last longer. Today, I’m going to take you inside the world of the cordwainer, or shoe maker. The world’s top shoe making school may be Cordwainers Technical College, now a part of the London College of Fashion. Alumni include Emma Hope, Patrick Cox, and Jimmy Choo. Cordwainers Technical College has been around for more than 100 years–long enough to see the transition from hand-made to manufactured shoes. Cordwainers worked in a specific area of London, which came to be known as the Cordwainers ward. The Worshipful Company of Cordwainers is the organization that still sets the standards for shoe making professionals.
As you can see from the video above, shoemaking can be a long and tedious process. Shoemakers formed materials like leather, rubber, plastic, and jute around a mold called a last. Lasts are now made of plastic, although they were traditionally made of iron or wood. Sometimes a different last is used for the right and left foot. Watch the video to see where it goes from there.
Although I’m a big fan of handmade goods, I’m glad we have access to manufactured shoes. After all, the industrial revolution certainly increased the variety of shoes on the market. I don’t think the delicate, elegant shoe I’m featuring today, Sparktacle by Kenneth Cole Reaction would have been available before manufactured shoes– certainly not at the current super low price of just $35!
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