Friday, 20 April 2012

The Scandinavian bespoke shoemakers

Scandinavia is known for its fine and timeless, functional designs within furniture, architecture, cars, glassware, porcelain or simple everyday clothing. Mention names/artifacts like Wegner, Arne Jacobsen, Royal Copenhagen, Kosta Boda, Orrefors, True Blue Gold, Rocking Rabbit, Hackman, Volvo and SAAB, and most people will agree about the stylish, elegant and timeless artifacts from Scandinavia. I would not say timeless and elegant  about IKEA and H&M, but nevertheless functional from this region. Most people will nod in consent, yes, that is Scandinavia in a nutshell.

This brings to the topic of the day, a colleague of mine asked me if there were any bespoke shoemakers in the our region (Scandinavia). Yes, I said, but at that time I knew of only one, in Norway, Mr. Myhre.
I was curious myself, so I had to dig a bit. I was disappointed that Scandinavia could only dish out three bespoke shoemakers, when considering that the whole of the Nordic is populated by approximately 25 million people. When comparing the whole of the Scandinavia with Hungary or Poland there are more bespoke shoemakers in each of the sampled countries. Question is, what happened to this trade in Scandinavia? Are the modern Scandinavian men not into classical, stylish, elegant and timeless shoes? Not sure what the answer is, but it is a thought worth.

 For all of Scandinavia(Norway, Sweden and Denmark), I found only three bespoke shoemakers: One in Norway (I already knew about Mr. J. P. Myhre), two in Sweden and unfortunately none in Denmark. Wonder why so in Denmark, is this due to the fact that ECCO is the "Number One Danish Shoe for Gents", or Danish gents do not care what they put on their feet? Hmm....I am not only crying over the lost of bespoke shoe making trade here, but it is more saddening that bespoke tailoring is also in decline in Copenhagen/Denmark. No wonder when Danish men shop their clothing in Bilka a retail chain that sells from nappies, food to, eh (just name it).

The last pair of goodyear welted shoes from Denmark was made by a company that closed in 1974 or so. A pity for the Danish bespoke shoe industry.

Well, enough of the sad news, let us look at the bright side of the industry and the artisans that keep this beautiful art alive & continuous in Scandinavia. A tribute to them.

1) First, a view at Norway,(Bespoke shoes from Mr. Myhre). No doubt that Mr. Myhre makes some very elegant, classic  & timeless shoes. I was told that Mr. Myhre is Lobb trained, no wonder the very artistic shoes. The rendition of the Adelaide in two tone, crocodile and leather, is so intriguing, when I first saw this shoe, I was sold.

2) Sweden - a) Mr. Janne Melkers, offers bespoke shoes and boots. The company has been in the family for three generations. It is my understanding that Mr. Janne is German trained in the shoe making. The pictures are not that good, but we all get the feel of what is being offered. The company also offers courses in shoe making. As I have mentioned earlier, I am a lover of boots, any kind, but when I see a buttoned balmoral boot, I melt. Mr. Janne has two of my favourite shoes, the button balmoral and the brogue side gusset, which is a versatile shoe for travelling. 

Above pictures sourced from Mr. Janne Melkers.

Sweden -b) The last of the Nordic bespoke services are offered by Ladies Carina Eneroth and Asa Rasmussen, the two ladies took over a third generation shoemaker's shop. Their offerings are listed below. From the ladies, the first shoe has a statement. Well, not my cup of tea, but perhaps there are gents out there who may fancy the squared and chopped toe.
The second shoe is very interesting, as I have never seen a Balmoral derby in that design. At first sight, this shoe reminded me of the W. S. Forster "Thomas" Balmoral cap toe, but after inspecting the shoe, I find it very special and intriguing, would not mind owning one, though I am not much into Derbys.

 Above pictures sourced from: Ladies Carina Eneroth and Asa Rasmussen

For Denmark as I said, there exists no bespoke shoemakers to my knowledge. I had to put the below photos of an era long gone. The shoes were made by the last bespoke shoemaker who operated for about 150 years and closed down approximately in 1974. The pair below was found in a second hand shop. Probably the last good year welted shoes from Copenhagen, if not the whole of Denmark. 

The above pictures sourced from: Mr. Grunwald, The Journal of Style


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