When I was in school for my masters at Polimoda Fashion Institute in Florence Italy, as students we had the chance to visit the factories to see how the shoes were made. The attention to detail and quality was amazing. Each artisan took their jobs very seriously and loved what they did.
On my visits to the factory I took lots of photos of my line being made. The first photo is of the Master Stitcher sewing the uppers of my Alpha.
One of my favorite stories is when I met her she came up to me and asked if I was the designer (it's possible I don't look like what people expect as a designer). I said I was and she said my designs were very challenging and took a lot of thought on how to sew my uppers. I thought she was going to be mad but instead was very happy because she loved the challenge.
Many of the designs from this collection were inspired by the folds of paper airplanes. The stitcher here is working on the details of the Topaz sandal.
The Endeavor straps are being sewn below. This is a great example on how the factory focuses on the details.
This is the Falcon sandal and the straps are being attached by the artisan to the insole of the shoe. Everything is measured to the millimeter. The insole is cut with indents to accommodate the straps to be perfectly seamless and comfortable.
Once the uppers of a shoe have been attached to the insole the insole has to be prepared for the sole. The sole is made out of a special leather called cuoio. It's extremely tough and can handle city sidewalks. On a woman's shoe it's extremely thin but also extremely durable. The bottom of the insole is sanded perfectly smooth to assure a smooth and lasting attachment of the cuoio leather on the sole.
Below is the worker sanding and smoothing the insoles.
Once the insole of the shoe is placed it needs to be trimmed. This is done after all the other work is done and the shoe is almost complete. The artisan is extremely skilled. They are using very sharp heated knives to make the soles fit perfectly. If they slip at all they could ruin the whole shoe. This worker sits with a burner at his feet to heat the knife and then trims the sole. They hardly ever makes mistakes.
If you noticed in the photos the shoes are made on lasts. There is a previous blog post explaining lasts. This next photo is of the Finch sandal in the factory. The last used is specifically used for sandals. The slot in the lasts are for sandals that are thongs. When I visit the factory they will have a fit model try on the shoes. Once I have the samples I then decide which ones will go into production.