Few things remain in your closet for as long as a high quality, timeless pair of shoes.When you think about it, shoes can completely make or break an outfit, and are one of a select few pieces of your wardrobe that you can change your entire look. Marilyn Monroe and Coco Chanel were two believers that shoes were of the utmost importance: Monroe was famously quoted as saying, “give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world,” while Chanel once quipped, “a woman with good shoes is never ugly.” The art of handcrafted shoemaking is something that many believe to be a lost form of fashion, with many designers and brands focusing on quantity over quality. But, there are still companies out there that handcraft shoes and boots for a completely luxurious, elegant and custom fit. Learn more about the history of handcrafted shoemaking and what companies you can turn to for a pair of truly one-of-a-kind shoes.
Sandals, in their most basic form, were worn for foot protection dating back to ancient times. These sandals often consisted of little more than a protective sole that was held to the feet using leather straps. When the entire foot required protection, a single leather hide was laced to cover and protect the whole foot. In medieval Europe, wooden shoes became quite fashionable and widespread, and the wooden clog that is still made today originated as a variation of wooden shoes from this time period. Prior to the 19th century, nearly all shoes were made by hand and were carefully measured, cut, fitted and stitched together according to the customer’s exact foot measurements and needs. This time-consuming process was commercialized in the mid-18th century and by the end of the 19th century, nearly all shoe production had become mechanized.
Best Handcrafted Shoe Companies
While shoes have come an incredibly long way since the days of a single pieced of untanned hide and laces, there are still companies that handcraft exquisite shoes. Below, find some of the best handcrafted shoes available today:
- SAS Shoes (San Antonio Shoemakers) – Founded in 1976, SAS shoes has a strong dedication to craftsmanship and quality. The company started with only 13 employees who handcrafted shoes, and as the company has grown, the number of handcrafted shoemakers has grown to about 80. SAS focuses on comfort and quality, and believes strongly that the customer’s needs are always the most important aspect of shoemaking.
- SOM (Sense of Motion) Footwear – The brainchild of an avid runner, SOM shoes makes casual footwear that is designed for both comfort and performance. Manufactured by hand in Montrose, Colorado, SOM shoes help runners achieve personal bests while allowing them to showcase their individuality and creativity.
- Aurora Shoe Company – Since the early 1990s, the Aurora Shoe Co. have been handcrafting shoes that focus on comfort, durability and quality American materials. The Aurora Shoe Co. proudly makes every pair of shoes by hand, one step at a time, and consider making shoes a true artform, which results in exquisitely crafted comfortable shoes.
Although some believe that handcrafted shoemaking is a lost art form, there are many who are beginning to step away from mechanization and who want to focus on quality fit for maximum comfort and performance. With the expansion of small handcrafted shoe companies like those above, consumers are beginning to understand what a difference a pair of hands can make to their footwear.