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Interviews

Matthias Vickermann

February 11, 2013

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You have founded Vickermann und Stoya eight years ago and from them you walked some miles. You are a fast growing brand being having a modern business approach but in the same time being faithful to traditional models. Please tell me more about Vickermann und Stoya story and about the “founding fathers”.

I personally started first an apprenticeship as tax accountant in Collone. But during this time I noticed that this job does not fulfill my expectations and prospects. I decided that I need to make something in the area of handcraft. In the focus where the activities as a watchmaker and the one as a shoemaker. Due to my personal shoe size of 50 (European size – I’m 2 m length ) I wish to became a shoemaker and started in 2003 my learning time at a local shoemaker in Baden-Baden. There I met my partner Mr. Martin Stoya. He worked just for years in the workshop and had the experience we needed to create our own business. After finalizing my apprentice we immediately make our wish come true and go into our one business. The early beginning were tough and hard. Trust is one of biggest issues in our job.

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On the one side trust in our handcraft possibilities and capabilities – as one pair of shoes costs 1.800 Euros – and on the other hand trust in our person concerning discretion. Understatement is important for us. In the meantime it emerge that my strengths are in the sales and marketing whereas my partner´s strengths are in the handcraft itself. Therefore we support and complement one another perfectly. We are a great team and only together we could achieve our aims.

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If you could name 3 things that describes your shoes what would it be? How would you describe your House style?

Three things that describe our shoes: 1) orthopedic, although not looking like one; 2) deep handcraft knowledge, 3) individually

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3 things that describe our house style: we do definitely not impose a style on our clients. We provide a service on our clients, which means that they tell us what they want. Our job is to advise on orthopedic aspects and to set limits if something is not possible. Otherwise nothing is impossible respectively everything is possible.

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How big is the workshop and how many Men are involved in the work?

The workshop including the sales area is over two floors and about 400 square meters. We are 6 employees adding Mr. Stoya and me; we are 8  in total – 2 people in the office, 2 for cutting and stitching and 4 for the shoe making.

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What kind of techniques do you use in shoemaking?

We use the hand welted and double-stitched-method. The yarn for example is done by ourselves as our claim is to have a very high craftsmanship content. We do not use the pegging technique.

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You have done presentations about the manufacturing process of building shoes and invites the guests to take part on a shoe shine workshop on the board of “MS Europe”. Why did you chose this kind of approach and why MS Europe?

At the beginning we decided to use especially 5 star hotels as our distribution channels, as we assumed to meet there our clientele. Later on we had the idea to try to offer our services also on high level cruisers. My final research lead to the very exclusive and luxury cruiser under German ocean carrier – the MS Europe.

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My trials were successful and nowadays I’m happy to have a very pleasant and good cooperation.

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Who are your main suppliers in terms of leathers, sole or shoe cream?

Our suppliers are very well chosen. Our calf leather for example came from European tanneries, cordovan typically from Horween in Chicago, the sole leather comes from Rendenbach in Trier and exotic skins came from all over the world – partially from Africa or from Asia. Shoe care Accessories like brushes and shoe boxes came from disability workshops. Our philosophy is to buy as much as possible local.

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What is your favorite Vickermann und Stoya model ever?

My favorite model ever is the wholecut crocodile in cognac.

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Your shoes looks lovely and I am sure they wears the same. Please tell me more about the quality Control system at Vickermann und Stoya.

After taking the measures and building the last we produce a pair of full leather test shoes which the client should use for nearly two weeks. These test shoes serve as a guarantee that we did take the right measures. We do not want to get into any risks as we do not want the client to buy the pig in the poke.

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We are dependent on the feedback of the client. He needs to tell us, if the test shoe fits. After sending us the test shoes back we cut them off to see the imprint, so that we can also get an impression of the suitability and possible improper details. Only after this very time consuming, costly and laborious procedure we start to build the final shoes. Then we can be relatively relaxed that the shoe for sure will fit.

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Being a bespoke shoemaker please give a golden advice to my Gentlemen readers in taking care of the shoes.

By far the most important advise is a good fitting shoe tree and not to wear the same pair every day.

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What future plans do you have for the near 2013 future?

Most of the bespoke services that I would recommend in Baden-Baden can be find in our sales area. We have a gentlemen’s outfitter named Jesper Ploug which came ones a month in our show room and offers tailor made suits and tailor made shirts.

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He offers his own brand as well as Kiton. Furthermore we have bespoke umbrellas and gloves ( for men and women ) as well as bespoke cuff-links. We also have a cooperation with a collector of exclusive vintage luggage trunks especially from Louis Vuitton and Goyard. He repairs them in affectionate handcraft work.

What other Bespoke services for Baden Baden would you recommend?

Nowadays just 30 % of our shoes go abroad. The clients combine a purchase of Vickermann und Stoya shoes with a short trip to this gorgeous and wonderful small city Baden-Baden. Therefore we don’t see any need for action in leaving the borders.

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Our clients come from all over the world – for example Puerto Rico, Russia, America and for sure the near border countries like France and Switzerland. In the last years our idea was to buy in old shoe manufactury as most of them cannot find a follower respectively a successor and this key idea will be kept in mind for 2013.

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For the end let’s play a game…I will give you 3 names : Woody Allen, Helmuth Kohl and George Clooney. Please create a V&S shoe model appropriate to their personality and style.

For Woody Allen I would chose a Derby yellow galuchat.

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For Mr. Kohl an Oxford full brogue in Cordovan

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and for George Clooney an Oxford plain model Alligator cognac antique finish.

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Pictures  courtesy of  Matthias Vickermann

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