Wonderful piece from Lisa Fleisher over at Bloomberg on the difficult and nearly lost art of custom shoe-making. The piece profiles Vivian Saskia Wittmer, a German-born shoe-maker living and working in Florence, Italy.
It’s creating what’s known as the “last,” the foot-shaped block that gives the shoe its shape. “Nobody shows you how to make a last, really, so you have to train it by yourself,” says the German-born Wittmer, 45, in her workshop in Florence, Italy, a city of shoemaking royalty and onetime residence of Salvatore Ferragamo. “Normally, no master will show you how to make a last. If the last isn’t correct, then the shoe will never fit. You can be as perfect as you want, but the client will not be happy.”
Wittmer makes about four pairs of shoes per month at her three-person workshop, called Saskia, starting at about 3,000 euros ($3,540) per pair, including 500 euros for the last, which always stays at the cobbler. (That means customers have to return to the same shoemaker to use it again, or pay for another to be made elsewhere.)