Written by Sarah Coombes
More and more people are moving away from the latest ‘it’ must have items, produced in large numbers by big labels. They are embracing the notion of luxury that comes from the rarer artisan produced items that are made by hand, with skill and care. A perfect example is a handmade shoe.
The Cordwainer is historically an artisan who made luxury shoes and boots from the finest leathers. These age old skills have slowly been lost over time with the development of mechanised mass production.
I make my shoes by hand to order, and this allows me to also offer a large size range of 37 – 45, to include the lady with the larger foot who is endeavouring to find beautiful footwear. My designs are contemporary, will stand alone, and be accessible no matter what is driving fashion trends. The emphasis is on using quality materials, coupled with careful crafting, which results in a beautiful handmade shoe. A luxury item that is unique, comes to you with its own history, and will be with you for many years to be enjoyed.
My career changing epiphany came when I walked into the studio of a shoemaker to order a pair of shoes for my birthday. From that moment, my love of shoes was combined with my desire to be part of that space and experience.
I studied shoemaking at RMIT, and did just about every other available course in Melbourne related to shoemaking. I then worked in the studio of one of Melbourne’s most prominent shoemakers, and continued to learn every day. I launched my own label SJ Coombes, with the Summer 2009/2010 range.
As I wear a large size shoe, I had first hand experience of the difficulty of completing an outfit with a limited shoe wardrobe – usually limited in terms of desirability. I am making a size range of 37 to 45, to include the lady with the larger size foot who is struggling to find a desirable fashionable shoe.
I aim for a high quality finish, with all components hand made by myself in my studio in Melbourne’s Nicholas Building, with the exception of the wooden heels which have been hand turned by another local craftsman.
My designs are not necessarily driven by the latest ‘it’ fashion moment, but more by historical fashion moments, things that catch my eye, shapes and lines that result in contemporary designs that I would like to wear. Designs that will stand alone and be accessible, no matter what is driving fashion trends. The emphasis is on using quality materials, coupled with careful crafting, which results in a beautiful handmade shoe. A luxury item that is unique, comes to you with its own history, and will be with you for many years to be enjoyed.
As my shoes are all made by hand using traditional time consuming techniques, they are limited in numbers.
Don’t miss your chance to see the S J Coombes handmade collection at Design:Made:Trade from 19-22 July at the Royal Exhibition Building.
For more information on DMT or to purchase tickets, visitdesignmadetrade.com.au