Where did YOU get YOUR shoes?

So you ask, where DID I get my shoes?

I have always loved shoes.

Loved different and unique shoes. Loved good quality shoes. But these shoes came at a price (which is why we work I guess). I have followed an amazing lady from Dunedin for quite some time, her name is Lou and she is the founder and owner of the Shoe School. I had wanted to do one of her workshops for a long time but never really 'got around to it', instead would spend time gazing in awe at all of the gorgeous 'handmade' shoes on her website, Instagram and Pinterest. It wasn't until recently that Lou decided to make the move from Dunedin to Wellington. Here was my chance, I was going to do it. I was going to sign up for Shoe School.

Where did you get your shoes?

Oh these?

Well I actually designed and made them myself!!

(listen to the AWE!!)

I had decided, 6-10 January 2018 was going to be the workshop I was going to attend. I am here, right now, sitting in my hotel in Wellington, excited that I am actually making my own designed pair of shoes, well boots.

How do you even go about making a pair of shoes?

Well in the beginning it involved A LOT of research. What did I want to make? What style? Did I want to make a super unique pair that was different or did I want one that would last for years? To be honest, choosing 'the' shoe I wanted to make was probably one of the hardest decisions.

Once my design was sorted and planned out - I emailed this through along with sending down all of my foot measurements. That was all the 'homework' required before starting the workshop in Wellington.

After a very rough landing - thanks to the storm, I headed up to the Shoe School workshop and had a fitting of my pattern from the measurements I had sent down to ensure they were ready for the following morning.

A safety briefing, explanation of everything we could use, learning some of the 'pro' lingo, we were told to go for it. Looking from my design to the wide array of leather, I knew this would be my next challenge. What leather was I going to choose? This was pivotal to ensuring an epic shoe that people will ask me about (haha).

Where did you get your shoes?

Oh these?

Well I actually designed and made them myself!!

(listen to the AWE!!)

To be honest, while I thought that choosing the leather would be difficult, it just all sort of fell into place. When told that we could paint the leather to the colour of our choice it became a game changer. I was going for black and textures. Sounds boring I know, but 3 different black leather, a gold zip, gold trim and a black and white heel - sounds good doesn't it?

Are you going to ask me where I got my shoes?

Day 1 just faded away. Finalising the pattern and design, cutting the leather for the outer and the lining, painting the leather, choosing zips, domes, decorative features and it was over.

Day 2 and 3 involved a lot of gluing (to hold the leather in place) and sewing. Due to the fact that I had a geometric design in my boot meant that I had a lot of pieces to sew together and features to add (zips, gold accent, eyelets and beading). This was also the time we also sorted out our lining, sewing it together and glueing it to the outer to hold it in place.

Day 4 was purely getting the leather shoe onto the last, known as lasting. This literally took all day! I now know why good quality shoes are so expensive! Pulling the leather up and over the last was a nerve wracking process. Ensuring to pull hard enough to make the leather tight, but not so hard to rip the leather. It involved a lot of tacks to hold the leather in place, followed by a removal of the tacks, re-pulling the leather, hammering the tacks again, hammering in longer tacks, removing the shorter tacks in order to lift the leather up to apply the glue. TACKY!!!!

By the end of Day 4, we all had a real sense of what our shoes were going to look like!

Day 5 involved adding the rand, sole and heel to the boots. I decided to paint my rand gold and incorporate a black and white wedge heel to my boots (again with many parts and to glue and place together). Adding the sole and cutting my gold leather laces took another day! It is amazing how time flies in the Shoe School workshop. But it was done. All 6 students in the class had completed our first pair of handmade, individually designed shoes! We definitely could not have done it without Lou and her amazing fairy assistant Gemma!

This is probably one of the coolest things I have done! From the design to the construction it was a great learning process and a lot of fun. I will definitely be signing up to do some more workshops at the Shoe School - you should definitely look into it. Going to school in the school holidays never felt so good!

The end of the Shoe School workshop marked my 9th Uber trip, each with a different Uber driver, asking about my day, if I was from Wellington and what I was here for. My reply "I am here to make a pair of shoes", the responses were mixed and varied. I am not sure they really understand what I am here for or if I even did a decent job of explaining it. But the best remark I had from an Uber driver was "Shoe making is always busy, everyone needs shoes". What else is there left to say but,

Where did you get your shoes?

Oh these?

Well I actually designed and made them myself!!

(listen to the AWE!!)


As a designer, and a teacher of Design and Textiles, I teach and have been fascinated as to where clothing and shoes are made. Which companies are sending their products to be made overseas (both ethically and unethically), and those who start off New Zealand made and end up sending them offshore.

My goal, for last year (2017) was to try and buy clothing/shoes that came from ethical sources. I came across an amazing organisation, the Fashion Revolution, a global movement working towards radically changing the way clothing is sourced, produced and consumed to ensure it is done so in a safe, clean and fair way.

What better way to start 2018 than by making my own pair of leather shoes!

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