The World Championship In Shoemaking 2023 brought a lot of tough competition at this year’s London Super Trunk Show. It was exciting to see all of the creativity that came to fruition. A much longer post is in the works to see all of the entries, but for now, we will focus on the top three. Be amazed by the work of Athanase Sephocle (1st), Victor Vulpe (2nd), and Louis Lampertsdörfer (3rd).
We had a new visitor record with around 1,300 visitors coming through the doors at 12 Regent Street, for the fifth London Super Trunk Show this past Saturday. There will be much more on that in a large report later this week, and as mentioned above, later on, we will summarize all the 29 contest shoes for the World Championships of Shoemaking, a contest organized by Shoegazing and The Shoe Snob, in collaboration with Kirby Allison and the book Master Shoemakers, plus Parker Schenecker (brother of contest co-founder Edmund Schenecker who passed away two years ago). But since there is a lot of work putting those contest articles together and it will take a while, here is a look at the top trio.
The shoe to be made this year was a black balmoral boot with brogued / punched cap toe and closed lacing, hand welted with handmade sole stitching and leather sole. We saw everything from very “Victorianesque” vintage classic-styled pieces to modern crazy interpretations. The absolute top level has been very high already since Patrick Frei’s magic winner in 2018, but what’s evident is that the overall quality below this has been pushed higher every year and in the top half or so of the field there’s so much awesome shoemaking done.
So, this year’s top three are:
Athanase Sephocle, 1st place
Athanase Sephocle is a 32-year-old French shoemaker that has worked in different companies, previously specializing in orthopedics and show shoes, but for more than ten years now he has been working at Berluti as a shoemaker. He is based in their second workshop down in Maine et Loire, which is run by the legendary Anthony Delos.
His boot may look more basic than it is at first sight, but as soon as you start looking more properly you discover more and more magnificent parts, and when you turn the shoe upside down, you’ll be blown away completely. Here the upper is coming down all the way, with a cross-sectional super slim waist. You’ll have braiding inside the horseshoe heel, a large seamless piece on the upper, and more. Fine, fine work overall.
Athanase Sephocle made everything in his boot apart from the stitching of the upper which was made by Lyse Simon.
Victor Vulpe, 2nd place
Victor Vulpe from Romania has worked as a leather craftsman for almost 30 years, and after 15 years he started to make shoes as well. What’s quite incredible is that he has trained himself by looking at other shoes and reading lots of historic books, and he still only does shoes on the side. He finished 4th in the world champs 2019.
His entry is a very special-looking boot, with many hand-stitched details on the upper, the special tongue covering the opening, and sole stitching at 30 spi. A true exhibition piece. He made everything himself and has spent a huge amount of time on the boot.
Louis Lamperstdörfer, 3rd place
Louis Lampertsdörfer is based in the German city of Munich. Louis among other things was an apprentice and later worked at the bespoke department of Gaziano & Girling in England. During this time he also finished sixth in the world champs 2019. Now runs his own brand Mogada, which does bespoke and has a small hand welted RTW range.
His shoe is very classic, and could well be made 100 years ago. The vamp is seamless and all other parts were also blocked on the last to bring them into shape. The soles are stitched with 20 spi with beveled waists on the in and outside and the horseshoe heel is built with paste. Louis made all apart from the stitching of the upper, which was made by Raz Maftei in Vienna.