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The Fine Art of Shoe Making

My name is Roberto Ugolini and I’m the owner of Roberto Ugolini Bespoke Shoes.

“The Fine Art of Shoe Making: I started in 1995 with a cobbler shop”

I started in 1995 with a cobbler shop. My job there was just to repair shoes. During that time, I had the good fortune of meeting an artisan from Florence who made bespoke shoes.

I was curious, and there was also demand from clients coming into my shop for repairs who also wanted shoes made to measure. Almost all of my work is for foreign clients.

I’m colouring the sole, and giving it a base so that it doesn’t discolour over time. I start with an alcohol-based colour, and then a wax-based colour. I’m putting on a second coat of the wax-based colour.

“The Fine Art of Shoe Making: I use the old system – foot on paper”

I use the old system – foot on paper, draw the outline of the foot and use a ruler to take 5 or 6 crucial measurements we need, starting with the bottom of the foot up to the top. Then we move on to creation of the wooden “last”. We start with a standard last which we modify based on the client’s measurements. When it comes to new clients, and we have a new “last”, we start by making a trial shoe. This makes sure the shoe fits and gives the client an idea of the lines and shape of the shoe.

“The Fine Art of Shoe Making: After the trial shoe, we move on to making the real pair”

After the trial shoe, we move on to making the real pair. After creating the upper, we model it onto the last. That’s what we’re starting to do here. The material is fixed onto the last with nails. Once it’s on, we leave it to dry a little, and then we stitch the on the welt. Then we add the sole, and stich it on from the outside.

When we’ve finished, we add the heel, and then refine the sole to make sure the line of the shoe is correct. When the line of the shoe is perfect, we move on to colouring the sole and the heel.


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