The Stitchdown Shoecast

Stitchdown

Exploring the wonderful world of quality footwear, how it’s made, and all the things we love about it.Check out Stitchdown.com for shoe and boot reviews, interviews with industry titans, profiles, release info, and more. read less
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Cutting it Up With Cobbling Legend Steve Doudaklian of Bedo's Leatherworks
21-11-2023
Cutting it Up With Cobbling Legend Steve Doudaklian of Bedo's Leatherworks
Ten years ago, Steve Doudaklian looked at a camera, said “good morning shoe repair family”, fixed up some shoes, and put a grainy video on YouTube as a service to cobblers around the world.A decade later, Steve’s videos still don’t look all that different from his first—but now they’re often watched by millions, and stand as perhaps the measuring stick of high-end shoe repair and restoration worldwide.In as lively as Shoecast episode as they get, Ben chatted with Steve about the three generations of shoemakers that preceded him; growing up in a legit war zone in Lebanon before emigrating to Falls Church, Virginia; how the shop his dad started—Bedo’s Leatherworks—has grown and shrank and otherwise shifted over time; and forming the Shoe Repair International group which now includes over 1500 cobblers around the globe.We also get into Steve's favorite shoes to repair, Alden Indys (of course), how YouTube changed Steve’s business and cobbling in general, what a craftsman sees that the customer might not, and—with intentionally zero succession plan, meaning one of America’s iconic shoe repair businesses will end with him—how long he’s planning on keeping it up.Oh and why all cobblers should wear a shirt and tie on Saturdays.______________________________________________________________________________________________This episode was sponsored by Grant StoneTheme song: The Road by Punk Rock Opera
Sarah Guerin aka Saboteuse Knows More About Massachusetts Shoemaking History Than Anyone Alive
08-11-2023
Sarah Guerin aka Saboteuse Knows More About Massachusetts Shoemaking History Than Anyone Alive
To call Sarah Madeline Tierney Guerin an incredibly skilled cowboy boot maker would be accurate—and also highly incomplete. Sarah is also an artist, a historian, an educator, a storyteller, a preservationist, someone who just thinks about things differently than most of the rest of us, and quite possibly the person who knows the most of anyone in the world about the deep history of Massachusetts shoemaking.Sarah's nom de boot "Saboteuse" (the female version of saboteur, in French) isn't just an extremely cool word. It's a mindset she applies to both her bootmaking work and larger focus of bringing attention to the failures of the larger worldwide systems of modern mass production. In a rangy chat, Ben and Sarah discuss her genesis as an architect-turned-shoemaker,  why she operates out of a replica of the Massachusetts shoemaking sheds known as "Ten Footers" and the fascinating history behind them and the 19th and early 20th century US shoemaking epicenter of Lynn and surrounding towns,  how we can trace larger histories simply by looking at and understanding objects (in this case, believe it or not, boots), and making maybe her greatest work to date while watching Little League games.See much more of Sarah's work: https://www.saboteuse.com/_______________________________________________________________________________________________This episode was sponsored by Standard & StrangeTheme Song: The Road by Punk Rock Opera
Grenson's Tim Little on UK vs Outsourced Manufacturing, Triple Welts & "Throwing Away the Pompous Bit"
24-10-2023
Grenson's Tim Little on UK vs Outsourced Manufacturing, Triple Welts & "Throwing Away the Pompous Bit"
“Let’s just change it up a bit” is how Tim Little describes his approach to shoe design for Grenson. It might as well be Tim's ongoing mantra. After years in advertising—including handling the Adidas footwear account—Tim decided it was time to change it up a bit and make some welted footwear. Tim Little Shoes was born, with Tim working with various Northampton factories to create different types of quirky-but-classic styles that found a small but obsessive core audience.That work led Tim to change it up a bit again and take on the role of creative director for Grenson in 2005, before taking the whole damn thing over in 2010. Under Tim's watch, founded-in-1866 Grenson has been reignited in a way that, well, changes it up a bit from your typical historic Northampton shoemaker—combining classic English shoemaking techniques with a more fashion-forward approach that isn't afraid to break rules while knowing what the core of a great shoe always needs to be.In our Shoecast chat, Tim gets into how the iconic Grenson triple welt arose, how and why Grenson splits is manufacturing between its Northampton factory and India-based production (and the importance of maintaining the former), why so many GYW brands feel the need to make sneakers these days, how Grenson has brought a younger customer into Goodyear welted shoes, and plenty more.Oh also I attempt to spell veldtschoen, live on air._______________________________________________________________________________________________This episode was sponsored by Grant Stone — they've got you covered on just about every size and width you could ever want in dozens of stylesTheme Music: The Road by Punk Rock Opera
Crown Northampton's Chris Woodford on The Rise and Fall (& Hopeful Rise Again) of Northamptonshire Shoemaking
13-09-2023
Crown Northampton's Chris Woodford on The Rise and Fall (& Hopeful Rise Again) of Northamptonshire Shoemaking
Chris Woodford is a bit of a madman. And he’s pretty much thrilled about that.The fifth-generation shoemaker founded Crown Northampton—maker of some of the world’s best-made sneakers—as a reaction to watching his father’s business unravel, along with so much else of the iconic Northampton, England shoemaking trade.After watching factory after factory shutter while growing up, Chris knew he needed to create a different kind of business. Early wholesale success in Japan provided the buoy for Chris to design a sneaker made with only the finest possible materials available—including J&FJ Baker oak bark leather, and Horween’s renowned shell cordovan—sell made-to-order models direct, and see if it caught. (Oh it caught.)Now, Chris is on the verge of launching E. Woodford, an extremely high-end, full-custom handwelt line powered by Chris’s own bespoke shoemaking knowledge, and his desire to create “careers, not jobs” for shoemakers in Northampton.In a fascinating, engaging chat, Chris talks us through the Woodford family shoemaking history that stretches back to 1908, how wars have always powered the Northampton shoe trade (and what happens when they end), why he’s obsessed with using only the best materials and preserving nearly vanished techniques, and why creating an environment in which shoemakers can learn and grow and be excited about their work every single day is the key to Northampton’s future success.______________________________________________________________________________________________This episode was sponsored by Grant StoneTheme Song: The Road by Punk Rock Opera
Graham Ebner is the Next Big Thing in Bespoke Cowboy Boots
25-07-2023
Graham Ebner is the Next Big Thing in Bespoke Cowboy Boots
When Graham Ebner says he makes “really nice, really expensive” cowboy boots, it’s somehow barely a brag. In just five short years the Austin, Texas native (“to be clear, I grew up FIRMLY in the suburbs”) has established an impressive foothold for himself in the pantheon of rising bespoke cowboy makers. After training under the legendary Lee Miller at Texas Traditions (early job: refooting boots eaten by presumably lovable dogs), Graham struck out on his own to flex his unique combination of artistry, inlay/overlay work, and technical skill. In my chat with Graham we get deep into how he works with customers through the lens of his just-finished Big Bend Boots, the “close the shop down tools” he could never be without, the language and purpose of toe bugs/flowers, and the incredible resource for learning bootmaking that is the internet—and the extra special sauce that comes from being part of a bookmaking lineage that stretches back to the all-time-great originators of the craft. SEE MORE OF GRAHAM'S WORKhttps://www.grahamebner.com/https://www.instagram.com/grahamebnerboots/?hl=enMENTIONEDCowboy Bootmaking Legend Lisa Sorrell on Myths, Lore, and Why Craft Has Never Been More Importanthttps://www.stitchdown.com/stitchdown-shoecast/cowboy-bootmaking-legend-lisa-sorrell/YOUTUBE VERSION OF THIS EPISODEhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHtCJrjdh9gCOME TO STITCHDOWN BOOT CAMP—OCTOBER 6th & 7th 2023 IN NYChttps://www.stitchdownbootcamp.com/________________________________________________________________________________________________THIS EPISODE WAS SPONSORED BY GRANT STONETheme Song: The Road by Punk Rock Opera