What is it about python leather that you love so much?
Exotic materials, in my opinion, indicate instant quality. I’ve made many different shoes with all sorts of leathers – really high-grade stuff – but it can be hard for someone to justify the price of a custom shoe if there isn’t anything exotic about the raw materials.
What other materials did you use?
The inner lining is made from black Lycra-based leather to allow for stretch. There is also a layer of reflective white 3M behind the N – a classic New Balance trademark.
How long does it take to build shoes like this?
Once I came up with the concept, they took a few days to put together. Whenever I make a shoe, I need to deconstruct the original and create a pattern for the upper. I make one shoe and fine-tune it until the shape is perfect. Developing a proper last is crucial for the shape to be right. The last is the three-dimensional shape based off your foot size and the dimension of the shape of the shoe. So, that’s usually what takes the most amount of time, and that’s my main focus – making sure the shape is on point. For these New Balance customs, once I was satisfied with the shape I went on a hunt for the right materials – I had to source the stretch leather specially. New Balance is all about the shape.
What goes into making the last?
Last-making is just a whole art within itself. You can take an existing last and build it up – it’s kind of like sculpture in that way. If I have to develop a last from scratch, it can take anywhere from a couple of days to a week to perfect.
Do you feel like the last is part of the shoemaking process that people tend to overlook?
Yeah, I think it’s something that the normal consumer doesn’t understand about shoemaking. I mean, it took me a long time to understand it as well. I think it’s one of the selling points of a high-quality bespoke recreation. In the classes I teach, I am able to show that everything starts with the last and truly show how much work actually goes into the making of a shoe. I taught a class with a brand and it taught them a new level of appreciation for their products, even those made overseas, because it showed that it still takes a lot of work to produce something – no matter where it’s made.