Opinion: How Transparency Behooves the Crafts

Or at least, supports it and makes it a more welcome friend to the public.

I sometimes come across craftsmen reluctant to share techniques or accept students. Or salespeople wary of answering sartorial inquiries. Conversely, this can hurt businesses and their craft.

Crafts survive on patronage. Without public appreciation and commissions, artisans cease to be.

For discerning buyers, learning about production has value.

Take two black cap oxfords, for example. Each made by different bespoke shoemakers.

Visually, they look the same, but they are different. One can be structurally and/or materially superior. Either can be slightly compromised if the artisan decided to cut corners. It boils down to maker investing quality care and time in production.

I’m an unrelenting perfectionist. For anyone, that requires time, knowledge, and sometimes costly mistakes in order to parse good makers from the bad.

How can you acquire knowledge if you are completely green to a product? Make appointments and visit multiple workshops for a day or more if they let you.

Ask the craftsman questions and observe quality control

For shoes you might ask about their stiffener material (plastic or leather?). How long shoes stay on their lasts. The last time the company purchased new cork for soles. How many trial shoes they offer. The little things.

Observe a regular day behind-the-scenes (i.e the making process). Do workers use damaging blowdryers to speed up the process? Good or inferior leathers? Reuse patterns from old clients? Look for red flags and hallmarks of quality.

Craftsmen with great work ethic and product quality can only benefit from sharing their knowledge.

That’s one of the reasons why I started Shoe Savante – so readers can learn, be curious, and maybe invest in something they believe in.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s