I can’t seem to find the email thread and give exact details, but I remember a few years back receiving an email/message from a young Russian guy who was on a mission to create his own handmade footwear line. A very typical question that I get asked from aspiring individuals such as this, is ‘how/where did you get the apprenticeship and can you help me find one too?’ The thing is that most are really not prepared to take that next step and are simply at the dream stage (which is fine but is the reality of it). Even if one was to fall right in their lap I think that they might not take it as it is a massive step to move to another country (that speaks another language) with no income and manage to get by. This wasn’t the case for Andrey Zhakevich who is the creator of Gottlieb Schwarz. He was determined.
I told him of my time with Stefano Bemer and of the upcoming shoemaking school that was coming up, under the (then) newly appointed Tommaso Melani ownership. The idea of working under the Stefano Bemer name was quite stuck in his head, so I think that this was the only thing he wanted to hear. So it was easy for me to give him the details and off he went to get into the school. Fast forward a few years and I receive a new email, only this time with a shoe collection to back it up. Needless to say I was quite impressed with Andrey’s determination to go out there and do what it takes to make his dreams come true. And equally as good was the fact that his shoes where quite unique and attractive, having a style that blends British/Italian design but made with the aesthetic of an Austro-Hungarian shoe build (i.e. robust soles and round toes).
Unfortunately I do not have more information on the cost of Andrey’s shoes or how long it takes to make a pair, but from what I do know he is producing them by hand and I am sure that in light of having a shop in Moscow (and not London where prices are ridiculous), that the price of his shoes will hopefully be in line with the Austro-Hungarian side of European shoe prices. But best would be to contact him on his Facebook page for those that are truly interested in finding out more, especially for any of you in Moscow or going there any time soon. I certainly wouldn’t mind a pair of those black wholcuts with blue accents in the brogueing. Very nice!