Footwear Workshop - Humen, China
After first connecting at a trade fair in Hong Kong, we have had a wonderful relationship with our footwear manufacturer for five years. We were so impressed with their lovely, raw, earthy leathers and their excellent finishing, which really stood out in a sea of ‘bling’.
Based in Humen, in the Dong Guan region, the workshop consists of about sixty skilled shoemakers, who have been with us every step of the way as we’ve grown our footwear collections from one style, to ranges that now include sandals, boots, loafers and lace ups. Together, we produce small quantities of handmade shoes with stitched and printed details in vegetable tanned sheep leathers.
Staff have a cooked lunch provided, in a large, bright lunch room. There's a billiard table in there too!
Keeping each run small means keeping each run special.
We have visited their factory twice now, the last time in June 2017 where we took a bunch of footage of the makers creating our SS17/18 collection!
Meet the makers
Zhen Hon Hong - Lasting Master
Hi Mr Zhen!
How long have you been working here?
I've been here for more than 10 years!
What is your specialty?
I am usually making and shaping lasts. [the mould which each shoe shape sits around]
Have you worked in other workshops before this one?
Yes, I've been making shoes for 20 something years, working alongside my current boss (when he was still an employee) in a different workshop.
How did you learn shoe making?
I learnt how to make shoes at home, in my home village. My family make shoes so it was passed down from them.
Where are you from originally?
My home town is in the Sichuan province.
How about your family - how many children do you have?
I have two kids – both married already!
Are your children close by?
They both live about one hour away – working in Guangzhou city. Neither of them are in the shoe business!
What’s your favourite part of working here?
I like to last the shoes.
Any particular designs you like best?
Nope, anything! I know all parts of the production, but like this area best.
What are your dreams for the future?
That I will become a boss, and then retire!
Thanks so much for chatting with us Mr Zhen!
Rubber Sole Makers - Dong Guan, China
We created a new shoe sole this season, so it was exciting to visit the sole makers to see how the sole was actually made. The raw rubber is mixed with silica to stablise it (raw rubber alone is too soft to use for shoe soles – all rubber soles have added content and are not pure rubber). Colour is added at this point too. The sheets of mixed rubber are hung and dried, then cut up into small pieces to go into the shoe moulds. There is a different mould for every size shoe from size 36 to 42. The moulds go into ovens for a couple of minutes each, and out pops the sole!