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Interviews

Crockett&Jones Pembroke: An Englishman in Berlin.

April 27, 2019

Last weekend I traveled to Berlin on an occasion that I’ll reveal at the end of my story. The journey allowed me to test a shoe which is almost legendary for those who prefer the tweed or the flannel or who live in areas where the temperatures aren’t too generous. I am talking about the Crockett&Jones Pembroke.

Pembroke was a shoe with which I have been almost obsessed along the years, but for various reasons I didn’t buy it. The truth is that it is a goodyear shoe, and lately I have been more focused on handwelted shoes. Nevertheless, Pembroke continues to remain a mystery. Why do I like it more than other pairs which, at least at the first sight are superior to it?

The truth is that it’s been a long time now since I started buying shoes with my soul instead of my mind. Pembroke is one of the shoes which, even if I could take from a bespoke shoemaker, I wouldn’t because Crockett&Jones makes them very well and somehow I would feel that I stole something from their spirit. Even if they came out better from a construction point of view, or if I had access to better leather, it still wouldn’t be enough. Because Pembroke is supposed to be made by Crockett&Jones, just like I wouldn’t copy Edward Green’s Dover.

In my mind, Pembroke is the English shoe by excellence. It is robust, gentry aristocratic, comfortable and highly resistant. It is the shoe for tweed. I confess that I ventured a little to wear it for the first time in a day when I was walking in Berlin. Usually I have problems with factory shoes when I first wear them, but I am quite perseverant, so we fit in with each other quite fast. With Pembroke the experience was very pleasant. Due to the 325 E last, there was absolutely no discomfort in walking.

The leather, at the first sight, is a bit stiff, but it softens relatively quickly. In two days of intensive wearing it becamse soft, and a bit of Gel Antique from Farmaco gave it a very beautiful nuance. I will not lengthen my impressions about Pembroke. I consider it a special shoe, one of those models to which you get after a certain age, after going through various exotic choices, and which you simply know is your model.

In the end, I still have a query regarding Dainite. Although it may be useful for country regions, it is very annoying in the city. If I was responsible for the collections from Crockett&Jones, I would add a less annoying City Rubber sole. And I would patinate it similarly to Connaugh Anniversary Edition.

Anyway, in the near future I will re-sole it with a city rubber and I will give it a patina. It will be interesting.

Going back to the days spent in Berlin, the reason was partly pleasure an partly business. In my future plans has instilled an idea which, like all great ideas, begot its own life. The idea materialized in Petru&Claymoor, a soul project in which I am now deeply involved. Details about this, however, in the next episode.

Interviews

Igor Suhenko – “My favorite word is Meravigliosa.”

April 20, 2019

How would you describe a typical day?

We start the day with some common actions that precede our kids going to school. When we escort them to school, we are having our morning coffee and breakfast “in peace”. We also discuss our plans for the day. Our major is custom made shoes but we’re also repairing old shoes therefore we are organizing days for shoes repair and shoes making since it’s impossible to make and repair shoes simultaneously. The way we make shoes requires complete devotion and attention. 

What would like to make in the future that you have not made yet?

It’s been a long time now since I’m preparing myself for making Chelsea boots. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s my favorite model but I’ve never made it, so far. Probably I’m waiting for the right moment of inspiration. I’ll make it when the right time arrives, or when one of my clients place an order.  

 What does ‘quality’ mean to you and how a person can recognize quality?

Quality is, in my opinion, the bond of quality material and exquisite craft production. This should be accompanied by good taste and esthetics, as well as comfort, shoes wise mostly. We should not neglect the ergonomy that plays very important role in production of any kind of high quality product. I cannot place any rule in high quality recognition nor give instruction on how to recognize high quality product. Simply put, that feeling when you hold or touch high quality product, either you have it or not.     

Which other craftsmen do you admire? Do you have friends in the shoemaking world?

Lately, Japanese masters are in big expansion. Hard work, precise craft and classical way in production of any product runs through Japanese tradition. Even though European models are not the part of their tradition, working and learning in European handmade shoes production houses accompanied with their work devotion place them on very high position on the list of my favorite Masters. I also think that they’re lucky to live in a country with high quality life standard; therefore they can be completely devoted to shoe making which, at the end results in adequate payment. There are several European handmade brands that I highly respect, since Europe set standards in our craft and still is leading in creation of shoe models and fashion its self.

Japanese Masters: Yohei Fukuda, Tsuyoshi Ohno, Masaru Okuyama, Eiji Murata.

European Masters: Xavier Aubercy, Stephane Jimenez, Riccardo Freccia Bestetti, John Lobb, Edward Green, George Cleverley.

I’ve had an honor to meet Mr. Xavier Aubercy in person, and with lot of my colleagues I’m in contact through the social networks.

What are your favorite  places to spend your evenings?

Since we spend most of the day at work, we use evenings to associate with kids. We have family dinners and we watch some family movies from time to time. Sometimes we visit our friends, or they come to our place or we go out for a drink. Sometimes we go out with our kids to restaurants, or to the movies or some concert.

What is your favorite word?

My favorite word is Meravigliosa. It means wonderful in Italian.

What is your least favorite word?

Perhaps it’s OBLIGATION, or the phrase: YOU HAVE TO

What turns you on (creatively, spiritually or emotionally)?

The ART itself. The observation of beautiful art works and music. Emotionally, laughter and happiness of my kids and my wife.

What turns you off?

Situation that mostly turns me off is when I can’t find the strength in myself to solve some problem. That makes me very sad, but luckily, that instant lack of power passes quickly.

 What is your favorite curse word?

Personally I don’t like curse words, but when I use them, I usually say: U pičku materinu.

What sound or a noise do you love?

I just love the sound of Louis Armstrong’s trumpet.

What sound or noise do you hate?

I can not stand the sound of car tires creak and the sound of sirens of urgent services.

What profession would you not like to do?

I wouldn’t like to be politician. 

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates

I would like if God would tells me: “When I was giving mankind the love, I was having on my mind that they would love life with all that it takes, as much as you loved and lived your life”

Interviews

Igor Suhenko. “I think that our planet is endangered by industrialization.”

April 15, 2019

 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…