I have recently seen your shoes in Harrods and in Corthay London store. I confess that it is the first time that I have touched your shoes and they look amazing. You are now an outstanding rival of Berluti and a very famous French shoemaker. How were the beginnings at Lobb and what were the effect of Berluti’s colors and shapes on your new born child: the Corthay shoe?
Pierre Corthay: My work experience with John Lobb taught me the absolute quality one needs in shoemaking as well as accuracy. What I learned in Berluti permitted me to use creativity in the maximum way possible.
Susy Menkes from Herald Tribune was a very effective “promoter” at the beginnings. After her article the Sultan of Brunei became your client with over 130 pairs. How would you describe now this special event after all these years and what other famous clients came after that?
You have first started in Paris, in a rich Cultural environment. How these environments affect your design and how did you describe yourself as a shoe designer?
Paris is a rich city especially in museums and exhibits. My museum and gallery visits have greatly inspired my choice of colors and shapes.
Your Arca model is now a Classic model. Where did you find your inspiration for the model?
The idea for the model Arca came to me as I was looking for something simple. This can be summarized in three essential words “less is more”
The world is now beginning to me more and more mechanized. Materials for bespoke shoes are very rare today. Where do you get the leathers soles and especially the waxes and colors?
All materials we use exclusively come from France. The leather present in different parts of a shoe are all Made in France. Even the shoe polish we use comes from France.
Where does MTM inspiration lay on?
Corthay Bespoke offers the clients an initial point of inspiration in making their made to measure shoes.
What is your favorite pair of RTW Corthay?
My favorite pair of Corthay RTW is Arca.
What can you tell me about the people you are working with? Please describe them and their contribution to the final shoe.
The people who work with me are usually part of the group Compagnons du devoir, who aims to enhance the professional expertise and perform his job with accomplishment in an attitude of openness and sharing. Their individual as well as team contribution is very important.
What advice can you offer to aspiring shoemaker? Do you advise him to stick to bespoke or to expand his work to ready to wear?
The best advice I can give for an aspiring shoemaker who just started in the industry is to be passionate in his work. Be it made to measure or RTW, passion is the key.
Many shoemakers complain about the fact that along with the crisis the demand for luxury product decreases. How do you see the future of bespoke?
In my point of view, the made to measure sector will always be a success, the demand is highly sustained and with the help of emerging market the said industry will surmount the crisis.
I have noticed that you are extremely present on Japanese market. Why Japan and how would you describe this market comparatively with European shoe market?
The Japanese market is of very high importance for us, they are experts of artisan products. We can consider them as a voluntary test market in a general point of view, be it in quality or style.
What is on the horizon for Pierre Corthay?
We are currently located in Paris, London and Tokyo. Future plans include entering Dubai and Hong Kong markets.
Photos: Mr. Corthay photo by courtesy of Siddharth Siva; shoe pictures by courtesy of Mr. Corthay.