We met face-to-face at your first trunk show in Bucharest. I have to admit that the impression was a pleasant one. I discovered in you a real shoemaker, passionate by technique, leather, and especially admitting with honesty the aspects that could be improved, and also proving the desire to evolve. Where did your passion for shoemaking come from?
I’m glad I left you with such a good impression on our first meeting. It’s for the first time when my shoes were studied in such detail at such a level. I intend to have a very constructive attitude regarding the objections. You yourself told me things that some clients didn’t know how to say.
I learnt to make shoes in my father’s studio, ever since I was 12 years old. When I was 16 I made my first pair of shoes. It was a brown suede derby, with a crust sole, but it was only glued. In 2009 I returned to Moldova from my travels, in which I tried to do something else than shoemaking. The book of Laszlo Vass, “Handmade shoes for men”, made me remember the craft I had learnt from my father and so I began to make high quality shoes.
With how many shoes did you come at the last trunk show and what were the impressions?
At the last trunk show I brought with me 28 pairs of shoes and 6 pairs of shoes in various stages of the workflow. I was very satisfied with the visit in Bucharest, even if it wasn’t what I had expected. It was more like a meeting with my Romanian friends and with some potential clients who wrote to me in time, seeing my creations on my website and/or on social networks.
How did you meet Petru Zelenco, your associate?
My meeting with Petru was a matter of time and it didn’t take long to happen. Petru is a person who is very passionate about shoes, and shortly after I began to make shoes in Chisinau he came to my studio. He immediately became my client. In a short time we became friends, and eventually he helped me find the financial means for broadening my business, becoming thus my associate.
In the past few months you traveled to Western Europe in search for materials. Where did you go and what did you buy?
My collaboration with Petru began with a very pleasant trip, by car, to Western Europe. The first stop we had in Budapest. We visited the studio of Laszlo Vass. We saw his creations. Petru even bought a pair of Cordovan shoes. After Budapest we went to Vienna, where we went to Herbert Kolde and met Helmut Jansohn. From this leather merchant I practically bought all the leather I needed. Box for the shoes’ faces, skin for the lining, as well as different types of vegetal crust bearing the John Rendenbach.
Also, I found out from Helmut about the address of a big store of instruments and materials for shoemaking, situated in a Viennese suburbia. From that store I bought some tools that I lacked, some wax based paints for sole treating, “Vibram” soles, nails, wood lasts. After Vienna we “stopped” in the North of Italy and went to Milano, because we wanted to order some more lasts, but we couldn’t make ourselves understood. On our way back we stopped in Timisoara, Romania. At the “Fioretti” factory we ordered a series of lasts for boots and another one for elongated top shoes.
My favorite is the so-called English last. Can you tell me what other lasts are available?
I have several types of lasts. Aside the English ones, less elongated, I also have some more extravagant elongated models. The so-called Italian last. The shoes made on these lasts are more extravagant and stand out more. The choice of the last belongs entirely to the client and it’s dictated by this one’s character and taste. The boot lasts are slightly more elongated than the English lasts and their toe cap is cut. They look a bit “square”.
Do you also work with exotic and Cordovan leather?
For some time now I started to make crocodile leather shoes. I was impressed with this leather. Aside the magnetizing effect it has on the eyes, this skin has a different structure than the box calf. It is more durable and the upper layer is more solid. I assume it also resists better to time and humidity. This is how, from my point of view, is justified the higher costs of croc shoes. About cordovan I heard many things, but I wasn’t able to procure such leather. I heard you can find it in France or Italy, but I want Horween cordovan. I don’t work with half measures.
To be continued…