In England, it is a common thing to have a section of commercial advertisements in the back of the style magazines so that brands of all kind can show off a featured product, list its price, how to buy it and a brief description. I always check it out because every now and then you can find some interesting shoes there, sometimes by brands that I have never heard of either. The thing that I have been noticing more and more however, is the use of the term “handmade’ on shoes that are being advertised for less than £300. The more that I see it the angrier that I get as I just find it so upsetting that people have no shame in lying to the public in order to sell their product. What makes it even worse is the fact that naive people believe it, without questioning whether or not a £300 shoe made in Europe could really be ‘handmade’ at that price. A bit of deduction using common sense would tell you that it’s not possible (and Meermin does not count as their shoes are not entirely handmade. Semi handmade and 100% handmade are different, just like having half a million does not make you a millionaire).
What is even worse is the fact that this epidemic is not subject only to the footwear industry, but is has also plagued the suit industry where so called handmade bespoke suits are being sold for £299 (yet the term bespoke means ‘for one,’ when these companies are selling, in actuality, a block (that is used by many) that is then cut down from by your measurements to get the final garments. There are many problems that I have with this new found trend of claiming to have a handmade product when there is nothing handmade about it. First and foremost, it hurts the industry for everyone from the bespoke shoemakers, down to the brands that sell for £200 but don’t claim to be handmade. Because the more that people think that they are getting handmade stuff and the more that undercutting brands can use that term to represent their product, the more that the idea of a real handmade product (or even well made products at £500-£1000) will be lost in a sea of lies and we will thus lose appreciation for real works of shoe art such as many of the beautiful shoes shown in this blog that were actually made by hand as well as blood, sweat and tears (some exaggeration, definitely sweat!)
So if a £200 factory made shoe is now considered handmade then what is a £2000 shoe that was actually made by hand? A super-handmade shoe? Give me a break. Just because a skilled worker sits at a machine and physically touches the shoe and guides it through the machine, does not make them handmade! We need distinction for appreciation (and for simple honesty in reality). There is no hate without love, no happiness without sadness, no night without day. That being, how can there be good quality and bad quality if everything is supposedly handmade (which is usually associated with high quality). We can’t. So while I have said this before, and no doubt I will say it a million times more, to all those shoe brands that label their machine-made shoes as handmade, realize that while you might be selling a few shoes as lies to those that don’t know better, overall you are hurting the industry, even yourselves in the long run. There will always be someone to undercut your price and lie even further! We need to educate the consumer, not lie to them….
P.S. one way to tell if a company is lying, check to see if there is stitching in the insole. 99.9% of blake stitched shoes were done by machine. Not to say that it can’t be done by hand, but if done so it is not only very difficult but also very costly. A blake stitched shoe in theory should not be so costly as there are far less steps to making it (by mahcine, versus say GY welting, that has a lot more steps to the production), which is why it does not make sense to ever really do it by hand….