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The art of shoemaking

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Update time : 2015-03-04 20:57:18


Casalonga brings the art of bespoke shoes to global customers. Photo by Vikram Sharma

What started of as a university internship, an experiment at best, has turned into a lifetime passion for me. As a student of physics, it was an unusual choice to opt for shoemaking as a subject, but I was driven to "do something different", like I suppose all students are. I still remember the day I first walked into the Berluti lab. The master shoemaker was in deep conversation with a customer, discussing minute details and I was fascinated. My apprenticeship consisted mainly of sitting in a corner and observing shoemakers at work. That was 16 years ago. Today, I travel the world and take the art of Berluti's shoemaking expertise to connoisseurs.

Invest in luxury

Handcrafted shoes are an investment in one's own comfort.

Like a tailored shirt, a bespoke pair of shoes is, quite simply, created for you. Bespoke shoes are a luxury, of course, but they are also meant for those who love tradition and have an understanding of shoemaking. There are some high end shoes that don't qualify as fully bespoke, but those who opt for completely handcrafted shoes can feel the difference. It is this difference that makes it worth the investment. Bespoke shoemakers follow the morphology of the foot, unlike pairs bought off the rack. I have customers with homes in Paris, New York, Singapore and New Delhi and they like to have their favourite pair of bespoke shoes in each city because they hate carrying too much luggage. Ultimately, it is an investment in your own comfort.

Create pre-decided sets
A great way to save time is to create clothing sets, complete with shoes. A jet-setting customer once told me that he had so many decisions to make in a day, the last thing he wanted to think about was what shoes to wear with which suit. So I started creating sets with jackets, trousers, shirts and matching suits.

Keep it basic
One needs only half a dozen pairs of shoes in order to have a comprehensive wardrobe. There is one pertinent rule, though: You do need to rotate the shoes you wear, because no matter how great the quality, they will be damaged if worn daily. One must always use shoe trees (a piece of wood that is inserted in the shoe to maintain the shape.) A shoe tree also helps absorb moisture and kill germs. Shoes must be kept clean, although not necessarily with polish. The dust and water needs to be removed daily while polish can be applied only when shoes start to look dull.

As told to Jahnavi Chakravarty