Learning the traditional art of shoe making in New York City.

Posted on November 23 2016

Written by Louise Matson

I recently travelled to New York City specifically to attend a five day footwear course. It was presented by Milan based school Arsutoria and held in collaboration with Fashion Footwear Association of New York (FFaNY). Arsutoria is the world leading school for fashion training, focusing on shoe (and bag) pattern making and design. The lecturers are specialised in these fields with years of experience in the global footwear industry, also consulting to major footwear corporations. Senior Professor Paolo Marenghi is based in Milan and was born into a family of traditional shoe makers.

I was surprised to learn that China produces 59.1% (13bn) of the world's shoes, while India produces 9.6% and Italy 0.8%. China has become very good at making shoes under the supervision of shoe makers from Brazil and Europe, however it is Italy's traditional art of shoe making that we choose for the Louise M brand.

There is something very special about going into family run factories in areas around beautiful historic towns such as Florence, Venice, and Naples. Shoe craftsman, generation after generation, have proudly produced the highest quality using the best available materials with a combination of traditional skills and modern technology. We love that about our shoes.

The extensive information shared at the footwear course was without a doubt vital to the long term sustainability of our business. We now have a greater understanding of the shoe manufacturing processes, including what makes a shoe comfortable and what makes a shoe uncomfortable, to be able to liaise with the Italian factories with confidence. Louise M is continuing to build a superior quality product for cabin crew and corporate women with the aim of providing a shoe that not only looks stylish but provides that all important foot care for long term comfort and health. 

It was very worthwhile and supportive being amongst attendees from across the globe including Hong Kong, London, and Brazil. To have a group of industry specialists discussing shoes for a week was invaluable. The majority of attendees are sent by global footwear organisations and are a member within team of a specified department, such as costing or production. I was amazed at the size of the companies they were representing, and they were just as amazed that I had achieved what I have on my own.

Did you know that there is no one standard of shoe sizing in the world? As the Louise M brand is made in Italy we follow the European standard and have created a shoe size chart to make shopping for your size easy. This is the official size conversion chart confirmed by US Footwear Consultant Roy Russo, I thank him for his expert guidance and assistance.

Being in NYC was fabulous and I took the opportunity to explore the city that never sleeps after class hours. Some of the sights included Ground Zero, The Highline, Empire State Building, Central Park, and Christmas Markets. I loved the 'Top of the Rock' cocktail bar (and the ice rink at ground level), STK restaurant  and Eataly in Midtown, the revolving bar at Marriott Marquis Times Square, and The Standard in the Meat Packing district. Best shoe departments were Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman.

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