The majority of shoes today are mass produced for international consumption. However, in the not too distant past, shoes were uniquely handcrafted for each pair of feet. This time consuming venture was entrusted to master craftspeople, who in turn gave consumers a wearable piece of art that fit their needs perfectly.
Handmade shoes are still produced today on a much smaller scale around the world. The epicenter of this craft is located in the Saville Row neighborhood of London, England. One such shop, Foster and Son, is considered the “shoemakers’ shoemaker” and they have been handcrafting shoes for more than 175 years.
At Foster and Son, “craftsmen and women practice their craft using techniques unchanged for two centuries. The results are all individual pieces made to the Customer’s requirements and the finest of them stand as true works of Art.”
Foster and Son was recently featured in The Victoria and Albert Museum‘s, video series “How was it made?” The video, The Art of Shoe Making, chronicles a craftswoman at Foster and Son making a pair of Bespoke Brogues from start to finish.
The Art of Shoe Making ties into The Victoria and Albert Museum’s current exhibit, Shoes: Pleasure and Pain. This exhibit explores shoes in relation to transformation, status, seduction, creation, and obsession. Shoes: Pleasure and Pain can be viewed from now until January 31st, 2016, in London.
The exhibit seeks to give viewers a look into “the cultural significance and transformative capacity of shoes and examines the latest developments in footwear technology creating the possibility of ever higher heels and dramatic shapes. Examples from famous shoe wearers and collectors are shown alongside a dazzling range of historic shoes, many of which have not been displayed before.” If you are unable to make it to London, the exhibit is also beautifully chronicled in a book which is available worldwide.