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Acme Shoemaker


Pictures in post represent what actual handmade shoes look like.

The thing about me is that I believe lying is the most dangerous weaponry there is. It can fool millions, deceive entire groups of people, and lead many to have a perception that is built on falsehood. 90% of brands that claim their shoes are handmade are a part of that great deception. Your shoes are not handmade. Yet that is what they want you to believe in order to ‘make the sale.’ And that is a problem. Maybe you don’t care. Maybe you do. But a lie is a lie and let me explain why. ‘Made by hand’ is how shoes were made before the industrial revolution. In fact, well into that time period, they were continuing to make by hand as well. But as the industrial revolution grew and grew, machines were made to ‘speed up the process’ and make things more efficient so that the companies could scale their business and make more and more money with larger productions. No matter how good a shoemaker is, they cannot do things even close to as fast as a machine can.


Yim Shoemaker


So the footwear industry changed. And the issue began that these actual Handmade shoes were still being marketed as such even though machines were now doing 90% of the work. No one was going to correct the companies and the companies were surely not going to downgrade their marketing by saying ‘machine-made.’ Why would they do that? Honesty doesn’t pay in business. Deception often does. You see if a bespoke shoemaker makes handmade shoes how can a factory-made shoe also be handmade? What then separates the idea between them? Their definition of structure so to speak. Education is vital in this regard as it is important to know what distinguishes $300 shoes from $1500 shoes as one of the 3 things that make up a shoes’ price is the amount of labor put into them.


David McKee of Dave’s Shoes UK


This issue is also what fools people into falling for the trap of some Pakistani/Indian factory ripping off the pictures of good shoemakers and using those pictures to sell shoes at only $99 online, using the words ‘Handmade’. If people actually understood the difference between ‘handmade’, ‘machine-made’ and good-quality versus bad no one would be tricked by these scams and purchase shoes from these scam artists. Yet as there are shoe salesmen at department stores that throw around this term ‘handmade’ like most normal people use the word ‘the’, the great deception furthers itself. And this is why people buy Meermin shoes for $200 and think they should be like Saint Crispin’s quality. Education is education. And lack of it always creates issues. Educate yourself on what ‘handmade’ truly means, if not for yourself at least for the respect of the artisans of the world actually making their products by hand.


Masaru Okuyama

10 thoughts on “Industry Secrets Part 1: ‘Handmade’ is a Lie”

  1. Well said, this is so right, nowadays people are buying cheap shoes and think they had a great deal for a handmade shoes

      1. Hector Lamphar

        Also, Jhon Lobb from London’s West End at 9 St. James St is part of that 10%. I am a proudly owner of a pair of boots, and the almost unnoticeable inconsistencies in the stitching (that a machine cannot perform), make the boots look gorgeous.

  2. Yes you right. However, there is no strict regulation on handmade, so it is not illegal for these companies to claim so.
    To be fair, those “handmade” shoe companies aim at different market segments than that of bespoke shoemakers, Vass, St Crispin’s, etc. I don’t think customers of authentic handmade shoes are fooled by that. Just like Roll Royce’ customers would never think that a Toyota Camry is an alternative, no matter how fancy Toyota’s ads are.

    1. Justin FitzPatrick

      As per regulation, no one ever mentioned illegal. Just deception. Lies. Wrong. And per people confusing, well unfortunately you are wrong there. You cant imagine the countless times I have heard someone say their shoes were handmade when they clearly were not and how many customers asked if our shoes were handmade knowing their pricepoint. Its a rampant misconception. And while I could take that as a compliment fundamentally I know tjat it is due to a lack of education and naive believing into the misuse of that word.

      1. Well, deceptive advertising is illegal in most of Western countries, and the customers could file a lawsuit. In my opinion, these companies have different definitions about handmade than ours. Many times, salespeople show me “handmade” Northampton shoes, but couldn’t define “handmade” when I ask. So I guess, the salesmen are not well informed rather than deceptive.
        Your shoes brand seems to get unfair competition when you don’t advertise the shoes “handmade”, but I guess it is very marginal. Shoes connoisseurs, who value the exclusiveness ,craftsmanship and fantasy would know the difference and go to small shoemakers in the first place. The average shoes buyer tend to weight more on the practicality, comfort, look and price than the handmade fantasy.

        1. Justin FitzPatrick

          Its funny that a word that itself is very clear could have different perceptions. And while it is great people like you get it and understand it many do not and that is precisely why I write thses posts and attempt to educate the masses and not just the connoisseurs. And if these salesmen and companies continue to deceive nothing will change. And I am sure that if someone had enough time and resources they could take this to a court level and win but who would do such a thing? So, I just use this platform to educate. People will listen or they wont. But I will keep saying it.

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