I have always been in love with man shoes, but I think it all started in 2009 when I decided I had to leave my country to live in England for a season to think what I could do with my life while trying to improve my English skills. I suppose that I sought answers to my questions regarding what to do with my life because I was not in love with my profession at that time.
To live in a great city as London made me enjoy the unique experience to understand the British culture. I could visit its monuments and museums and its quarters and parks while I was living with some Londoners, and sharing a different point of view was really wonderful. Everything to me was an exceptional experience that I’ll keep always in my heart. I have been changed.
Pacing the streets of the neighbourhoods of Marylebone, Mayfair, Savile Row, Old Bond Street, Jermyn Street or St. James Street, was like a revelation to me. I discovered the world of makers, creators, well-made tailoring and shoemaking. I discovered the other part of me, proving a most authentic and passionate respect for the possibilities of what my hands could do.
Who was the first person that influenced you most?
There have been several people that influenced me in one way or another. First some friends of mine helped me to decide to live my now old professional career and go ahead. But there are some greats shoemakers that I would like to quote, in chronological order:
Emili Guirao, it was he who encouraged me first. Josep Cunillera, “Pitu”, who introduced me in this wonderful world and formed me in the beginning. Norman Vilalta, who had the most impact on me and for whom I have great esteem. And Krysia, her humility and her generosity, she gave me her knowledge of a long and distinguished career of over 36 years working for John Lobb of St. James Street, being the most important learning phase in my career.
Further I want to show my gratitude to Mr. Johnathan Hunter Lobb, who offered me the opportunity to learn the genuine British crafts of well-made bespoke shoemaking. As you can imagine, from there I could grow as a shoemaker during these lasts years.
What is your first memory on shoes?
Before I wore for the first time a pair of new Spanish well-made shoes that I bought, I looked at them and enjoyed them for several weeks, every night before I went to sleep. I loved smelling the skin, observing the color and shape moulded by the hands of a shoemaker, noticing every detail of the seams and the inside. Those were some revealing nights. Pure fetish or love for the well done shoe.
What memories do you have of your first order?
A big excitement, nerves, requirement, and then it occurred to me the possibility to pursue the dream of one day to become a good shoemaker.
What shoe would like to make in the future that you have not made yet?
I still have a long way to go, long way to walk and grow. This only just started, so I still have many models to do. This is perhaps one of the great things about this noble trade, there is always something to do that you have not done before, no shoe is like another and it can always be improved.
What does ‘quality shoe’ mean to you?
Commitment to self and inherited nobility of the good work of thousands of shoemakers who have done so much and worked so hard, transmitting the knowledge of their job from one generation to the next over the centuries. Each pair and each client requires different solutions, and this is where the history of other solutions can imprint the shoe’s aesthetic and artistic sense, keeping in line with what the customer wants.
Uniqueness involves the highest quality materials. For me the “total quality” is to find a balance between all of these aspects. And I get that excellent training is needed, but I do not think there is such a thing as the perfect shoe. If perfection exists, then it is just something tangible, measurable. Instead, excellence goes beyond the tangible. Pursuing excellence then it may mean going beyond perfection, it is an attitude which gives the shoe one’s own soul: I saw some shoemakers with sublime details in their shoes, trying to treat the shoe as a work of art, but with slight imperfections – it was unique and no one could argue the “total quality” of its materials and its excellent level of execution.
How does the bespoke service work at Ramon Cuberta?
It is a joint project, it is the pairing in sharing an illusion: the illusion that the client would actively participate in transforming the initial idea. And for me, a fantastic challenge to approach the customer’s psychology and his own style, as well as to take the opportunity of exercising my full potential at work and creative ideas to transform the type of shoe that the customer expects. Above all that I want, the customer also purchased a bespoke service for well-made bespoke shoes, this is an experience which development lasts for more than 10 weeks.
Starting with the idea embodied on the last, we have chosen a design approach together. Following, the craftsmanship of the shoes, where first trial will test the functionality of comfort, shape and design. Once the type of leather and different finishes are picked, the final order is ready to be made. Where the final outcome involved something magical that often surprises both the client and me, shoes have become reality but have acquired a personality, distinctive features that make them unique and different from what we actually imagined. It’s a great experience. Most of you will think I’m crazy, hahaha…
To be continued …