Stay Informed Stay Ahead

Lifestyle Fashion

The three prize-winning shoes from The World Championship of Shoemaking will make their stop in Chennai this weekend

Victor Vulpe and Louis Lampertsdorfer finished second and third respectively

Victor Vulpe and Louis Lampertsdorfer finished second and third respectively

Every year, three unusual pairs of shoes travel the world and shoe lovers and design enthusiasts religiously convene to see them. These are the top three winners of The World Championship of Shoemaking.

The annual event, started in 2018 by Shoegazing (a website run by Swedish journalist Jesper Ingevaldsson who is an authority on men’s classic shoes) and The Shoe Snob (run by former shoemaker Justin FitzPatrick) in collaboration with blogger Kirby Allison and the Master Shoemakers book project, provides a platform for bespoke shoemakers from around the globe to showcase their best work.

Athanase Sephocle finished first

Athanase Sephocle finished first

“The three podium shoes usually make their first stop in Paris, and then head to Stockholm, New York, Tokyo, Shanghai…,” says Aaffan Mohamed K, resident shoemaker at Chennai-based Bridlen Bootmakers and Shoemakers. But this year, the prize-winning shoes of 2023 will be in India for the first time.

Bridlen has got the organisers to include Chennai as one of the stops.The shoes will be displayed at The Folly in Amethyst on Friday and then for a week at the Bridlen store on Harrington Road (on appointment basis).  

Each edition sees a particular style of shoe and colour that is decided by the organisers. Participants, normally 40-50 in number then create their masterpieces and send them to London where the winners are crowned by a panel of eight judges. The year 2024’s theme has been announced, and it is pennyloafers. This year’s theme was Balmoral Oxford in black. “They look similar but each shoemaker has their own artistic interpretations based on rules,” says Affan.

The criteria includes complexity of construction, execution, and design. They also have to be entirely handmade except for the upper part which can have machine stitch. “These shoes need not be wearable but the point is to use whatever you can to showcase your craft,” Affan says. Additionally, this competition also promotes the Goodyear welted method of construction of shoes which allows the sole to be resoled multiple times. 

The event took place in May. This year, the winner is Athanase Sephocle from France, followed by Victor Vulpe from Romania, and Louis Lampertsdorfer from Germany. “The details and aesthetic of each shoemaker is different. For example, the French shoes are elegant, stylish and not too pointy; the German ones tend to be a little bit more rounded and sturdy. The Romanian ones tend to marry the German school of shoemaking with their own ideas,” says Affan. 

Some of the shoes made by these bespoke shoemakers have waiting periods of up to two years and cost upwards of 2,000 euros. “It is niche but a lot of people even from Chennai place orders with them,” says Affan.

The 2023 World Shoemaking Shoes will be on display at The Folly, Amethyst on December 8, between 5pm and 8 pm. For details, 9884072527.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *