The Shoe Snob Blog

World Championships in Shoemaking 2019 – The Competition Shoes Part 1

40 dark brown full brogue oxfords, made by shoemakers from all over the world. Here’s a substantial review of all the competition shoes that entered the World Championships in Shoemaking 2019. Info, comments, pictures of the shoes and in some cases also the manufacturing process.

In the words of Jesper Ingevaldsson of Shoegazing Blog

It has taken some time (especially since I’ve been very busy the last few weeks), sorry for that, but finally the summary of all contestant shoes 2019 is finished. A new record in length for a post (or posts) here on Shoegazing (has taken more than 50 hours to put together including all the work with the pictures…), so lots of greatness for you to go through.

Part of the London Super Trunk Show at the end of March was the second edition of the World Championships in Shoemaking, organised by Shoegazing and The Shoe Snob. It was set-up in collaboration with online retailer Kirby Allison’s Hanger Project, book project Master Shoemakers, and private person Edmund Schenecker, who paid the substantial prize money of £3,000 to winner, £2,000 to second placed and £1,000 to third placed.

The top three shoes also will go on tour around the world now (together with the winning shoes in the patina championship), to be showcased for as many shoe lovers as possible. We have a mix of new locations and stores, and some that were part of the tour last year (the plan is to continue to vary the tour from year to year). The preliminary tour schedule is as follows:

Week Date Store City, country
w22 May 31 The Hanger Project Dallas, USA
w23-24 June 5-16 The Armoury New York, USA
w26-27 June 24-July 7 The Armoury Hong Kong
w29-30 July 15-28 Unipair Seoul, South Korea
w32-33 July 29-Aug 18 Medallion Shoes Beijing, China
w34-35 Aug 20-Sept 1 Medallion Shoes Shanghai, China
w37-38 Sept 9-22 Isetan Men’s Tokyo, Japan
w40-41 Sept 30-Oct 13 Skoaktiebolaget Stockholm, Sweden
w43-44 Oct 21-Nov 3 Skomaker Dagestad Oslo, Norway
w43-44 Oct 22-Nov 4 Mason & Smith Singapore
w46-47 Nov 11-24 The Decorum Bangkok, Thailand
w49-50 Dec 2-15 Oakroom Taipei, Taiwan
w2-3 Jan 6-19 Upper Shoes Paris, France
All shoes on display in London.

At the London Super Trunk Show all competition shoes were on display for the around 1,000 people who visited the event during the day, and at the award ceremony in the evening top ten were presented. The shoes and the competition once again gained a huge interest and admiration, and also afterwards the attention has been big. We are very happy that the shoemaking community has accepted this competition, giving it and the contestants well-deserved recognition. As we’ve said before, it takes guts to send in a shoe for review and put your efforts on display like this. It’s a great thing that all shoemakers, both the ones who have done this for many years and the real beginners, all say that they’ve made the best shoe they ever have for the contest, and learned a lot from the making of it, things they normal production will benefit from.

The day before the event the shoes were reviewed anonymously by the jury, which consisted of:
Patrick Frei, bespoke shoemaker, winner 2018
Philippe Atienza, bespoke shoemaker, 2nd place 2018
Jim McCormack, bespoke shoemaker
Nicholas Templeman, bespoke shoemaker
Yohei Iwasaki, bespoke shoemaker
Patrick Verdillon, Director bespoke John Lobb Paris
Kirby Allison, founder of The Hanger Project
Gary Tok, author of Master Shoemakers
Edmund Schenecker, bespoke shoe customer
Jesper Ingevaldsson, Shoegazing
Justin FitzPatrick, The Shoe Snob

From the jury review in London the day before the super trunk event.

The criteria that were set out for the competition shoes were as follows:

– Full brogue oxford model (4-6 separate leather pieces, brogueing along all edges of the leather pieces, wingtip and medallion is mandatory, further decorative brogueing and decorations are ok though not necessary, but no contrast stitching)
– One left shoe, size UK8 (or corresponding size)
– Dark brown box calf upper (aniline dyed leather)
– Single leather sole
– Hand welted, handmade sole stitch
– Dark brown sole and heel edges, natural colored bottom (decorations with for example wheels or nails are ok, but no dye or burnish)
– Finished inside of the shoe, with sock lining etc.
– No branding
– Shoes were displayed without last or shoe tree for the jury (if shoe tree was provided these were only used when showcased during the event)

Competitors could enter both as a company or as a person. All persons that had been part in the making of the shoe should be stated, and which process(es) each person have made (we haven’t received full info on all competitors, but most).

The criteria that the jury reviewed were the following:

Degree of difficulty (maximum 10 points)
Jury look at how complicated construction methods that have been used, how advanced they have been built both in large and in smaller details, etc.
Execution (maximum 10 points)
Jury look at how well the various parts of the shoe construction have been made, how neat and clean the work is, how well executed the level of finishing is, etc.
Design / Aesthetics (maximum 5 points)
Jury look at the overall aesthetics of the shoe, proportions, etc.

So, below first the full list of results, then a walkthrough of all competition shoes, from position 1 to 40 (1-10 in this post, 11-40 in another post to come tomorrow). The level of many of the shoes are superb, and it’s worth noting that there were only 25 points between 3rd and 10th place (205 points to 180 points), so very close (also the positions just outside top ten were tight). There’s more pictures and text on the top position shoes, especially now with so many entries I had to do things a bit more condensed to make it workable (It has taken around 50 hours to make this post…), but all have a brief summary and at least 4 pictures of the shoes from various angles. In some cases of the top 10 shoes I’ve also included pictures of the making process. Click the pictures to see larger versions, to really get a look at some of the wonderful details that’s to be found.

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Results (click on maker/brand to go directly to the summary (11-40 to come tomorrow)):
1. Daniel Wegan
2. Christophe Corthay
3. Eiji Murata
4. Victor Vulpe
5. Atelier Zakarian
6. Louis Lampertsdörfer
7. So Tsuchiya
8. Anthony Delos
9. Per Nobile
10. Raz Maftei
11. Dettagli D`Autore
12. Yim Shoemaker
13. Perticone – Seiichi Yoshimoto
14. EuGo
15. Athanase Sephocle
16. Kiyo
17. Lu Yang
18. Fumiya Ando
19. Barbavitra Shoemaker
20. Sergey Grechushkin
21. Naoki Sugimoto
22. Reid Elrod
23. Masachika Morita
24. Oh Sang Jun
25. Rozsnyai Handmade Shoes
26. Valentin Frunza
27. Tomohiro Inamori
28. Jan Buda
29. Lawart
30. Alexey Sod
31. Andrey Kaveshnikov
32. Taichi Shimizu
33. Ivan Below
34. The Last Shoemaker
35. Mikhail Burov
36. Masami Ishizuka
37. Francesco Masci
38. Batyr Bikbulatov
39. Thivakaran
40. Sebastian Makowski

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1. Daniel Wegan

A well-deserved winner.

Last year’s runner-up Daniel Wegan returned with an even more amazing shoe this year, earning him the world champion in shoemaking title. His shoe is a true exhibition piece, reminiscent of how many contest shoes could look like in the late 1800s or early 1900s, when shoe contests was a huge thing around the world, and makers pushed the craft with their entries. It is 100% handmade solely by Daniel Wegan himself, the upper is hand stitched and even the toe and heel plates have been made by hand by him. As Daniel describes it he has put a lot more effort into making this shoe than last year, he didn’t count exactly but up towards 150 hours. Especially the stitching of the uppers were time consuming.

Look at this. Then, look again.

The first thing that strikes you looking at the shoe is of course the super narrow last shape, and also the pattern and how the sole and waist follows the same exaggerated style. Looking at it from below the super slim waist impresses, not much more than a couple of centimeters narrow, and then with the delicate horse shoe heel. The more you look, the more you discover. The upper is hand stitched at 21 stitches per inch (more than most uppers stitched with a sewing machine), the brogue holes and the gimping (the zig zag along the leather edges) are all punched out by hand. Along the opening he has also braided the stitching, raising the level of difficulty further.

Sole stitching is made at 25 stitches per inch (counted and confirmed by the jury), with a very thin thread. Here you find one of basically only tow flaws of the making, with the tight stitching Daniel struggled a bit to finish the welt perfectly neat. The other small miss is that due to the pattern not being 100%, a few brogue holes have become slightly crooked. The back part of the shoe has a distinct ridge following through from the back with the heel stiffener down through the heel, built with thin layers. It is not only that the level of difficulty on the shoe is high, everything is done almost flawlessly as well, very neat and tidy making.

A closer look at the handmade upper-stitching, with the braided seam along the top line.

According to Daniel the upper-making was taking the most time, but perhaps most difficult was building the heel. It had to be built separately, and to make each layer smooth and keep it in place as they were added was a huge challenge. A lot of things that he did to this shoe are things he never had done before, things he had only seen on old exhibition pieces or in shoe history books. Could go on and on about the shoe, but best is probably to look closely at the pictures, and of course, try to catch them on their world tour if you get the chance.

Very advanced heel.

The jury consistently gave this very high points, especially on difficulty and execution, while a bit lower on aesthetics. A word on the expected discussion about these shoes (and some others in the contest) with it not being wearable, “not looking like” a shoe, and so on. The contest does not specify wearability, we only specify the size to be around UK8/EU42 (which this shoe is in length). The purpose of this shoe and other shoes taking things to a more extreme is to showcase what can be done with shoemaking, not to make shoes to be worn. Look at it like concept cars, which have the same purpose, and just like in those cases some things done for the exhibition pieces can be transferred and used for regular production as well, things that one might never have tried if there were limitations.

I can understand that people think the shoes should look more “normal”, in the same way as I hope that people can understand the criteria in this contest (which, again, is inspired by the old days’ shoemaking competitions). Perhaps next year we will specify also the width a bit more, saying for example that it should be standard width +- two width sizes, or something like that. Wearability will never be part though, both because of the reasons stated above, and because of it being impossible to define it and judge it (I mean, where do you draw the line..?). Also, it would be quite boring to look at 40 shoes looking more or less similar to each other, it’s the variety of artistic pieces and more common, often also amazingly made, however look at the 3rd placed shoe below, shoes that make this contest a treat. (Being The Shoe Snob, I cannot say that I so much agree with this sentiment as this is where design/pattern making sets apart the shoemakers which for me plays a pivotal role in being a good shoemaker)

Sole stitching at 25 spi (stitches per inch). As you can see, the finishing of the welt has some smoother areas on the inside part, so not 100% here.

If some of you did not yet know about the Swede Daniel Wegan, he is one of the wonderchildren of the bespoke shoe world. He wanted to learn how to make shoes, so he moved to England nine years ago and went knocking on the doors of the shoemaking firms in London and Northampton to find a job. Gaziano & Girling let him in, where he swapped the floors and helped out in the factory, in exchange of time to follow the making in the bespoke department. He started trying things out, and after a while was allowed to do some repairs on their bespoke shoes. Evenings, nights and weekends he spent making shoes in his apartment. He soon worked full time in the bespoke department, learned lastmaking, and has now since several year’s been the manager of the department. He is employed as Head of the bespoke department and lastmaker, this is his dayjob, then still in the evenings and weekends he works as freelancer for G&G and do bottom making in the “small factory”, his apartment (where three out of four rooms, plus kitchen, are workshop areas). Learn more about Daniel and Gaziano & Girling bespoke in the article series following a bespoke order from start to finish, found under the headline Bespoke on this page.

Now, enjoy some more pictures of the shoe.

Like an arrow.

Exaggerated shapes.

The ridge at the back.

Super slim waist.

Hand made brass toe tap.

Heel is built of relativel thin, and also perfectly even layers of leather heel stacks. Impressive when you know how thin it is due to the horseshoe shape.

View from the back.

21 spi upper stitching. Here one small error is also evident, where the pattern hasn’t been 100% which has caused a few of the brogue holes to get slightly crooked.

Nicely made, red coloured inside.

On to some pictures of the shoemaking, taken by Daniel Wegan himself or Neus Benavent. Here the last is done and insole being prepared.

Seamless wholecut lining leather, something not really shown, but which is evident of the uncompromising take on the making of this shoe.

The smallest awl for upper leather stitches that Daniel could find. Every hole is pre-punched, before stitches are made.

Daniel stitching the upper.

A very time-consuming work.

To be able to make such a narrow yet built-up waist, Daniel has to prep the build up already before the shoe is lasted. The welt stitches will then go through this build up from one side to the other.

A bit further into the making, where the shoe is lasted and welt attached.

Sole stitching done, seen from below.

Time to build heel. When doing a horseshoe heel, it has to be made separately and then attached to the shoe afterwards, otherwise you can’t shape the inside evenly all the way down to the base without hurting the outsole shown at the bottom.

Working on the meal heel plate.

Almost done.

A final picture of the masterpiece.

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2. Christophe Corthay

A shoe that stands out for sure.

Christophe Corthay, France, finished in 9th place last year, and similar to Daniel he has returned this year with a shoe even more well-made and ambitious, where Christophe have made it all himself. It certainly stands out as well, though more because of the sublime contrasted braided sole stitching and the matching orange piping and tassels, plus of course the awesome heel.

The bottom, with the very artistic heel. Some darker stains on the sole, which is always easy to get when doing a natural coloured bottom.

For Christophe Corthay and his brand Atelier du Tranchet, this look is not spectacular though, they make much more dramatic shoes for their customers. There’s no doubt that a lot of work have gone into it though, with excellent execution of the entire shoe, from the brilliant closing work of the upper with distinct rows of stitching and the decorative punched decorations all over, to the clean sole work and very complicated heel building. Here we also see that narrow bevelled waists is not everything, this shoe has a square outside adding weight to it, while the braided sole stitching still keep the level of difficulty high.

Profile view.

Christophe Corthay is probably one of the most famous names of the contest. Having worked alongside his brother Pierre with Maison Corthay for several years, he left to continue on his own a few years ago. Together with Christophe Algans he now runs the Atelier du Tranchet/Tranchet Vif project, where they apart from shoes also makes other excellent artistic pieces of leather.

Gorgeous sole stitching, with braided threads of different colours. Super neat.

This heel has been carved and drilled to a lovely artistic pattern.

Nice even layers.

Narrow last shape, which also is the case for Atelier du Tranchet’s regular bespoke offerings.

Decorated inside.

The edges of both the heel and the waist/sole edge is distinctly marked.

Some pics of the bottom making. Here the insole has been prepped.

Welt stitching done.

After bottom filling.

Sole stitching seen from below, before the channel is closed.

Heel built and only the last finishing remain.

A finishing look. Orange contrasting colours.

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3. Eiji Murata

Classic excellence.

This shoe is a very different cup of tea than the two previous podium shoes. Made by the mythic Japanese bespoke shoemaker Eiji Murata, who runs the brand Main d’Or all by himself, it’s a shoe that may look quite plain and “normal” at first sight. However, when you begin to look closer, you realise that it almost looks like a computer-made, 3D printed shoe or something, the level of the execution is the best possible, jury points in this category were very high.

Superbly finished bottom, for example look at how sharp and exact he manage to make the brown dyed outside edge towards the natural coloured leather.

Also Eiji have done the whole shoe himself, and it’s a wonder of exact craftsmanship. It is made on a standard last shape of his, and the making in general is actually quite similar to his normal bespoke work, although he has used a finer fudge wheel for the sole stitching (18 spi, stitches per inch), made the waist more narrow, perhaps been extra careful when doing the finishing, etc.

Welt and edge making and finishing is absolute top class. It’s sharp, exact, plus Eiji manage to get the edges extremely smooth.

Eiji Murata is trained in Japan, and works by himself from a workshop in Chiba outside of Tokyo. He is hugely admired domestically and internationally for his excellent work, and today the waiting time for an order is around 2 years, to keep times down he has stopped taking orders from new customers for the time being. You may read a buyer’s guide to Eiji Murata/Main d’Or here, and a large report here.

A very classic full brogue style.

Top view.

Nicely bevelled waist.

Eiji Murata’s heel building is very refined. Notice how the pattern of the heel counter carefully aligns with the heel (also the case on for example Christophe Corthay’s shoe above), which gives a “calmness” to the appearance.

Great upper making.

Some pictures from the making, here the pattern is being drawn on the last.

All pieces of the upper cut out. Eiji Murata stitched the shoe with machine, but as he always does he punched the brogueing and gimping by hand.

Insole holdfast prepared.

Welt stitching done, very clean.

After sole stitching.

Heel building.

Sole being sanded before finishing.

A beautiful shoe it turned out as.

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4. Victor Vulpe

This shoe by Victor Vulpe has a a lot of things to discover.

Romanian shoemaker Victor Vulpe is probably a new name for many has worked with leather craft for 25 years, and since 12 years he started to make shoes as well, trained by himself by looking at other shoes and reading lots of historic books. If Eiji Murata’s shoe received top on execution but a bit less on difficulty, here it’s the other way around. A lot of complicated processes have been put into this shoe, perhaps not always executed to perfection, still all very good.

Sole with lots of things happening, where the toe tap and brass nail pattern on the heel is synchronised.

Especially impressive is the pattern and upper making, where he has tried to keep a long line going through the whole upper, and where the side of the shoe has a very complicated solution where the pattern is sort of folded over itself, very creative. It also has the brogueing coming along down on the bottom towards the very narrow and thin waist, something very rare to see. Other cool features are for example the nails going into the side of the heel which together with the finishing of the side of the heel top piece makes it looks like something is burning inside the heel, or the decorative metal toe tap.

Here you can see the sophisticated pattern making on the side of the quarter above the waist, where the leather part is folded back over itself and also continues in along the waistline. Actually not sure how he managed to solve this, very impressive.

The part of the upper with brogueing that comes down at the heel and go forward along the waist, is of the same piece as the vamp itself and the heel part. Bloody awesome pattern making. Looking at the making, you can see a but of mistakes with the closing of the sole stitch channel at the back of the waist, and in general it is a little bit behind the three in top when it comes to the execution.

Close-up of the toe tap which Victor have made himself.

The burning heel.

The pattern from the bottom of the shoe is also coming again on the inside lining. The look is a bit special, perhaps not to everyones liking.

From the making of the shoe, after welt stitching and bottom filling.

Stitching the sole…

…and the waist.

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5. Atelier Zakarian

Another creative shoe is found on fifth place.

Atelier Zakarian is a Russian bespoke shoemaking company, with the three brothers Ashot, David and Seva now running the family business, which was founded in 1963. They make both bespoke men’s shoes and women’s shoes. Their competition entry was inspired by Byzantine architecture from ancient Rome.

Gorgeous stuff.

The shoe is very well-made, with clean making and finishing, and some nifty details like the built up decorative ridge of the sole (jury discussed if there were to be any deduction of points due to it by definition weren’t a single leather sole, since this was added, but we decided not too) which continues over to the heel. The main drawbacks are on the pattern making and balance of the last, which isn’t 100%, the shoe feel a bit off.

The continuation of the waist ridge over to the heel is beautifully done.

The balance of the pattern and the last is the main drawback of this shoe.

Pretty tight sole stitching, with a deliberatily undecorated welt.

Inspired by Byzantine architecture.

Heel from the side.

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6. Louis Lampertsdörfer

A very aesthetically pleasing shoe.

Similar to last year, Gaziano & Girling employees manage to snap two top six positions in the contest (that time it was Andreas Reijers who came in sixth place, apart from Wegan on the podium), which is quite impressive. The German Louis Lampertsdörfer has been an apprentice of the Kettering firm for some time, lately reaching a level where he started working on customer shoes, which this shoe is evident of. The upper closing has been made by Samuel Norsworthy, all other parts by Louis.

The clean sole with only the decorative “pearl” parts of the heel is also beautiful.

The shoe is both well-made with a decent difficulty level, although not in the absolute top on each of the categories. It did receive relatively high scores on design though, despite not being anything spectacular, but a good looking pattern and shoe is still something desirable, and as easy to make as some might think.

An elegant, pointy last shape.

Toe profile, where you can see that the sole and welt is nice but not perfectly even.

The heel building is excellent.

Nice proportions.

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7. So Tsuchiya

A shoe you don’t miss.

The shoe by Japanese bespoke shoemaker So Tsuchiya surely catch people’s attention. It quickly became called “the clown shoe” among jury members and visitors of the super trunk show in London, yet it actually has its foundation in a type of old military boots (where the toe was big to hold a large steelcap), although with the design exagerrated. Looking past the striking design, this is a nicely made shoe.

The bottom.

The combination of the big toe and the slim waist is striking, and the nifty decoration with coloured brogue holes at the waist, which also is used inside the shoe, is a nice wrist. Both the upper and bottom making is of a very high level. It’s also worth noting, that making shoes with this type of large toe is a complicated procedure, especially when it comes to lasting the upper and when removing the last (cause yes, the toe is fully hollow, lots of wiggle room here). This type of design is not something that So Tsutchiya only made for the contest, it’s this style of shoes that he offers. He is trained in Japan under Hiro Saito and Reiko Tsukui.

A special profile look.

Narrow waist.

Of course this part of the shoe is what makes it stand out, but it shouldn’t take things away from the nice making.

Ready for bottom making.

You got to love that the thread for stitching the welt is colour synced with the decorative brogueing on waist and lining.

Stitching the sole.

Round.

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8. Anthony Delos

Great to see entries by such acclaimed bespoke shoemakers like Anthony Delos.

A very famous name within the field of bespoke shoemaking, the Frenchman Anthony Delos who used to run a hugely acclaimed firm under his own brand, but who have been working for Berluti’s bespoke department for a number of years now, running their second workshop from his hometown a bit outside of Paris. His shoe is also one of those full of nice details, especially on the bottom of it.

A really nice looking sole.

Here you find Anthony’s charecteristic flower/tassel decoration both as sort of embossed gold coloured holes under the sole, and on the brass heel plate. The shoe gets a bit of a special appearance with the thick sole and storm welt, combined with the blind welted waist and tasseled lacing. The making is really good, but the level of difficulty is lacking a bit, not quite up there with some of the shoes placed higher in the contest.

Pretty sturdy profile.

Here you can see the Delos last shape. Note that the gold coloured decoration also is part of the lining.

The fudging and sole stitching is pretty coarse.

Really beautiful decoration.

Contrast between storm welt front and blind welted waist edge.

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9. Per Nobile

The upper of this shoe is something extra, so lovely.

The second Russian firm in the top 10. Per Nobile is a company that offer the full outfit for men in Moscow, both suits, shirts and then bespoke shoes. A long list of people were involved in the making of the shoe, all done under the surveillance of Mikhail Lozovskii who is the head of the shoemaking department. Pattern was made by Davletshina Alfia, last by Lukashevich Stanislav, upper closing by Lozovskaya Larisa, Petrova Tatiana, Constantine Drobitko lasted the shoe, Karpov Anton did the bottom making and Sergey Belyakov the finishing.

Sole is more standard.

Especially the upper is a work of art on this shoe. The pattern and the closing is of the highest level, with a gorgeous varied sizes of the brogue holes who also has two levels, really superb. The balance and look of the last and the special pattern is also top notch. A truly uniquely looking full brogue shoe. The bottom making was not of the same high level, a bit more plain both in terms of difficulty and execution, still good but not of the same top level as the upper.

Lovely flowing look.

Look at the upper work.

Heel is nicely built with an ever so slightly cuban shape.

Nice shape and efforts spent also on the inside. Great details like how the medallion and the spacing of the lacing follows the rest of the shoe.

Working on the upper.

During the lasting.

Welt stitching is made and wooden shank attached.

Rough cut heel stacks being pressed.

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10. Raz Maftei

Lots of twists and twirls in the upper here.

Another shoe where the upper is the most noticeable part, made by Austria-based Raz Maftei. Some impressive skills with the sewing machine has been needed, where both parts of the medallion and decorations along the lacing is stitched, along with special transitions along the brogueing. Complicated and well-executed for sure.

Sole is pretty clean.

The bottom making is not as refined, even if the sole stitching is relatively tight there’s not too much special things going on here. Raz Maftei used to work together with his family under the Maftei shoe company, nowadays he runs a separate workshop in Vienna called Feines Massschuhe Atelier. The shoe has been made entirely by Raz, apart from the centre hole in the medallion, which his daughter Bella Maftei has punched (*leave room for sighs-of-cuteness*).

Top view.

Brilliant stitching.

Cool medallion.

Pattern drawed on the last.

Closing the upper.

Stitching the sole.

 

2 Comments

  1. Valeriy
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