IN A NUTSHELL, WHAT IS CARRÉDUCKER?
Carréducker is a bespoke shoemaker and handsewn shoe-making school. We both changed careers to become shoemakers – from teaching English to business students in Barcelona (James) and marketing in London (Deborah). We met while training under master shoemaker Paul Wilson, James as an apprentice for John Lobb and Deborah as a Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust scholar (QEST).
We set up the company because we wanted to run our own business and attract new customers to bespoke shoes. Over the years, we’ve experimented with the heritage techniques we learned, we’ve brought in tools and techniques from other disciplines and have started to work with specialist British shoe manufacturers to do just that; offering our customers a modern, bespoke shoe wardrobe that ranges from elegant evening shoes to sneakers and slides.
DID YOU BOTH ALWAYS WANT TO WORK WITH YOUR HANDS?
Deborah grew up on the tiny Channel Island of Sark, before moving to London to do her foundation at Central Saint Martins. Her passion for handsewn shoemaking was born from working with Tricker’s of Northampton on her degree footwear collection, and then as an evening student under QEST scholar Claire O’Flaherty. James discovered shoemaking when he was living in Barcelona. He began training with a local shoemaker and then at the Shoemakers Guild School before moving back to the UK where he began his training in earnest as an apprentice.
YOU HAVE ALSO SET UP THE SHOE & LEATHER SCHOOL, WHICH OFFERS IN-PERSON AND VIRTUAL SHOEMAKING CLASSES. DO YOU THINK THAT THERE’S RENEWED INTEREST IN TRADITIONAL SKILLS SUCH AS LEATHER WORK AND SHOEMAKING?
There has definitely been a resurgence in the past two years, but even before then there was a growing enthusiasm for making things by hand, whether it be knitting, making clothes or upcycling furniture. When we started teaching in 2006, the accepted route into handsewn shoemaking was as an apprentice with one of the few established companies in this niche trade. Over the past 15 years we have turned that premise on its head and opened up learning handsewn shoemaking to a global audience by designing courses for complete beginners. These are courses that allow people to make a pair of shoes by hand following the 200+ steps in the process – all despite it being widely accepted as one of the most lengthy and complex leather working disciplines. By 2019, such was the interest that we were running a year-round schedule of intensive courses, one-day introductory and evening classes in shoemaking, as well as introduction to leather work classes as it has such a natural crossover of skills. This influx of skill and enthusiasm is in turn energising the trade as our students continue to make shoes themselves, becoming bespoke shoemakers in their own right or finding opportunities in shoe manufacturing and design.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE KEY PRODUCT THAT HAS BEEN SELECTED FOR THE MAKERS’ MARKET AT THE ROYAL EXCHANGE?
Our hero products are our leather accessory kits, from a sunnies case to a leather belt or dog collar, which are immensely satisfying to make and luxurious to wear. The kits have been carefully designed to create high-quality accessories that are built to last, made from sustainably sourced natural vegetable tanned leather and the best hardware sourced from Italy and England. The beauty of accessories made from vegetable-tanned leather is that they develop a patina over time, unique to the wearer.
WHAT IS THE SECRET TO WORKING WELL AS A DUO?
Having shared goals and values, mutual respect, an interest in and respect for life outside of work, recognising each other’s strengths and weaknesses and creative differences (being challenged creatively usually leads to a better design). Also giving each other space and having a good sense of humour.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR CRAFT INSPIRATIONS?
Blackhorse Lane Ateliers for their ethos, vision and community focus; Winch Design for building a business at the very pinnacle of luxury that champions craftsmanship; Dashing Tweeds for making menswear so much more interesting; Sarah Myerscough for showcasing artists working in natural materials; Frances Pinnock for developing oak bark leather sculptures that merge leather and shoemaking techniques together, and Grant Gibson for championing materials with his podcast Material Matters.
WHAT IS THE ONE THING THAT PEOPLE CAN DO TO SUPPORT INDEPENDENT BRITISH CRAFT?
QUICK-FIRE QUESTIONS: JAMES
- Favourite film: Blade Runner
- Designer or brand you would most love to collaborate with: Iris van Herpen
- Podcast recommendations: What is this “podcast” that you speak of?
- If you could own one piece of art (regardless of price), what would it be? Agnus Dei by Zurbarán
- Favourite item of clothing (or shoes) in your wardrobe: A pair of tan brogues made when I was an apprentice. I got married in them.
- Music album that left a lasting impression: Rumours by Fleetwood Mac
- Go-to snack: Bombay mix
- One Instagram account you recommend following: Carréducker
QUICK-FIRE QUESTIONS: DEBORAH
- Favourite film: Emma
- Designer or brand you would most love to collaborate with: Reformation
- Podcast recommendations: Grant Gibson’s Material Matters
- If you could own one piece of art (regardless of price), what would it be? A landscape by Mark Stopforth or Nicolas de Staël.
- Favourite item of clothing (or shoes) in your wardrobe: A pair of Carréducker handsewn sneakers.
- Music album that left a lasting impression: Harvest Moon by Neil Young
- Go-to snack: Lindt 70% dark chocolate
- One Instagram account you recommend following: Retrouvius
Carréducker will be taking part in The Makers’ Market at The Royal Exchange from 10-13 May 2022. It will also be hosting a leather workshop to make a key fob (£15pp) from 12pm-2pm on Thursday 12 May. Book your place here.