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Interviews

Marcell Mrsan (Koronya)

February 11, 2013

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I confess I have discovered you first as a teacher on handmadeshoes.wordpress.com and I was more than surprise, in our days not being a lot of people that you could learn the shoemaking technique from. How did the passion for shoes grown?

Koronya is a family name – from my mother’s side of my family. It has been changed more than 200 hundred years ago, when my ancestor arrived from Greece from “Koronia”. It means crown.

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A very reputed Viennese shoemaker told me once that he considers that the Viennese shoemakers learn a lot about technique from Hungarian artisans. How do you see shoemaking in 2012 Hungary ?

I believe we both learnt a lot from each other. There was a big competition between these two cities and both benefit pretty well from it, in terms of craftsmanship. Shoemaking in Budapest… well it still exists, but no there is no official education, not much interest. So, just a bit better than any other cities. We have old traditions there, but we should have new apprentices as well.

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What brought Hungary in shoemaking in terms of styles and especially technique?

I think all European country has great tradition in crafts and shoemaking. Hungary seem to preserve these a bit more, that’s it. Maybe Hungarian leather crafts were not that much affected by the industrial revolution. Before 1871, Hungarian craftsmen were obliged to complete their master journey in Austria, Germany, but most probably some went way more far. From these journeys they brought back tools, models, and knowledge. A lot of knowledge. You can find a lot of forgotten shoemaking technique in Hungary, which is very rare.

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Please describe me briefly your bespoke “treatment” and what materials do you use.

Only the bests. This simple. Bespoke means not just a product, but a complete service, a long process with long waiting periods – but you know what? Customers are happy to wait. If not, they should buy ready to wear shoes. My customers are aware, that it takes years until they get their shoes.

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What RTW range do you have, what construction technique and leather do you use, what are the options and prices for both RTW and Bespoke?
I have only one model. A black oxford, the K model. If now you associated to Ford T model – you are right. By the way – did you know that the famous T model was designed by a Hungarian? Galamb Jozsef. Anyway – the K model is the same philosophy.

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Only one color – as Ford said: “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black”

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The riding has a long tradition in Hungary being very appreciated by the Austro-Hungarian Empire Aristocracy. What is the fate of riding boot in our days Budapest ?

I can proudly say, that there are specialized riding boot makers in Budapest and countryside.

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What is the future of bespoke shoemaking in Easter Europe?

I think it could go any direction now: there is a certain renaissance, and this is good, but maybe too late – and this is the other version. Let’s hope the best.

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You have been raised in area full of old-school shoemakers. What other shoemakers you admire worldwide and Hungary?

There are too many. All, who has nice work – that is a long list.

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In your opinion what part of the manufacturing process you think is the most rewarding, in terms of immediate satisfaction?

I enjoy every minute of shoemaking, I live, sleep and dream about it. I can’t pick only one part. Make a model takes months for me. Thinking about the details, patterns, leathers.. then design the last for it – also something to enjoy. And I love every single step of making the shoe itself.

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Many young apprentices learn from you due to Koronya Shoe Making Courses. For a young people interested in this craft please describe briefly how things happened and what shoemaking techniques he will learn.

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I taught hundreds in short courses, which means they have a long way to became real shoemakers. Idealistically a shoemaker training takes 5-6 years under a master and 5 more years

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You have recently been invited to Savannah College of Art and Design to teach about shoes. Please tell me more about your involvement in this project.

I am a professor at SCAD since last September, teaching accessory design – for sure focusing on footwear. basically I help the next generation of fashion accessory designers to make the first steps, I give them an other perspective, focus their attention to quality. Teaching this is very different but also similar in a certain way.

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How do you see Koronya near future?

I just do what I did until now – focus on high quality shoes, challenge myself to make better shoes than before. I don’t want to build up a huge brand, I don’t want to commercialize this brand. Koronya should stay for pure quality and luxury.

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