When did you started your workshop?
I have started my craft work in 1988. I was apprentice at the work shop of one old Belgrade shoe master. He was teaching me to make shoes in old and traditional way. I was always in love with handmade shoes dreaming to start making one day these kinds of shoes on my own. My path wasn’t easy. It was mostly very hard filled with hard labor but my love for shoes and shoe making conquered. Nowadays I have many customers in Serbia and abroad.
How many people work in the workshop?
Our shop and business are family run by my wife and me, for the time being. My wife’s name is Maja Suhenko. She is an academic sculptor and besides me, her role in creating and making shoes and other works of art is very important and significant. All things that leave our shop are made of our mutual work and decisions, and this is a great happiness that results in complete harmony that reflects our products. My wife’s specialty is creating and making ornaments and buckles for our shoes and belts. We also have a woman that sews the upper parts of our shoes. She’s my wife’s colleague from the University. Also finished applied arts -costume department. She’s doing hand embroidery on our velvet shoes.
Who was the first person that influenced you the most in shoemaking?
Since I was a kid, I’ve been watching and drawing shoes. Afterwards I was buying books on shoes’ history. Looking at shop windows of workshops of old Belgrade shoemakers, firstly and later at shop windows of great European producers such as John Lobb, Edward Green as well as of some industrial quality made shoes: Madras’s, Brooks, Bally… All of these made great impact on my recognition of great love in shoes.
What memories do you have of your first order?
My first order I’ve finished with the Master I was working for. I was very excited without a clue how will it look like when I finished it. Luckily, I had the master on my side that did most of the job. By helping him I learned the whole procedure of custom shoe making: taking measures, drawing the shape of foot, negotiations about the model, construction of shoes and client’s foot, leather choice, leather cut by patterns, sewing of the upper part, placing the upper part on the mold, made of test shoes and all the other things till final takeover of produced shoes. My first model was Oxford type. We had that type in various sizes, so we could adjust patterns to client’s foot. Those days I’ve learned a lot as if a whole new magical universe revealed in front of my eyes. My first client was very satisfied and I was very proud of myself.
What is your favorite model?
My favorite model is Chelsea boots made of velour’s leather.
Which are your best sellers?
My clients mostly order Loafers followed by Derby model.
Where do you source the leather?
I mostly purchase leather in Belgrade, in a shop where I can find mostly everything that interests me. This shop is supplied by high quality leather from mostly Italian tanneries, also French and English.
Can you please tell us more about the quality of leather nowadays?
I think that our planet is endangered by industrialization. This reflects all segments of our lives, including the quality of the leather. The food we’re feeding animals with is worsen day by day, therefore animal leather is not of the same quality as it was in the past, when animals were fed and kept healthier, running freely on green valleys. Even our mankind has changed a lot. We don’t associate with nature that much anymore resulting in worse quality of the life. The regress in quality in all spheres of our life is exclusively our fault.
To be continued…