Sewn by hand
There is an old Shoemaster shop on Shaftesbury Avenue in Central London, just a stone’s throw from our studios on New Oxford Street. The shop has been in business for many years, and its Covent Garden location makes it not only our go-to shop for any key cutting or shoe repair services, but also a nice tourist attraction for those who are pulled towards the past and towards quirky old places that are still here today.
As you walk into the shop, the aroma of leather, shoe polish, and glue fills the air. Typically cramped with cluttered shelves and old, cast-iron machinery, it provides a fleeting glimpse of a dying trade.
This trade, un-mechanised until the second half of the nineteen century, though never fully assimilated into the great narrative of the Industrial Revolution, has always been considered as a good example of a traditional system of production. As long as shoe-repairing costs were no more than, say, a third of the cost of a new pair of shoes, cobblering was a thriving business. As the decades unfolded, however, with the rise and mass influx of imported cheaper synthetic shoes at half the price of their leather counterparts, the shoe-repair trade gradually began to lose its foothold, with many cobblers disappearing from the high streets for good. Comparing various London boroughs now with those same areas within the city a few decades ago, we find that there are nearly 60 per cent fewer cobblers. And sadly, there has been a similar decline in the number of bakers, butchers and other tradesmen.
So, as we continue to march towards commercialism and modernity whilst sinking under the weight of an increasingly disposable society, let’s take a moment to reflect on how these cobblers bear testimony to the entrepreneurial spirit of many a city—and how they are part of a cultural heritage that should not be lost sight of by future generations.
We are privileged to be the chosen photography studio for many fashion brands and leather goods manufactures who recognise the value of true craftsmanship. For the purpose of this article we have chosen to showcase some of our photography work for John Lobb Bootmaker, undoubtedly one of the leaders in the field of traditional boot making.
‘John Lobb has been making the finest shoes and boots for gentlemen since 1866 in London and [since] 1902 in Paris. Its rich heritage is reinforced by timeless qualities of craftsmanship, service and style (…) John Lobb Bootmaker has been in business for nearly 155 years – and prides itself on upholding its exacting standards and unique levels of craftsmanship in the creation of hand-made shoes and boots for men.”
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fashion ecommerce photography;
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#photography #heritage #craftsmanship #artistry