The World Championships of Shoemaking 2024 Edition (5th Gen) is now open for qualification. The final will take place during the London Super Trunk Show on May 4th, 2024. We have £6,000 (€7,000 / $7,400) and handmade shoemaking awls in the prize pool and a chance to be showcased in shoe stores around the world. For this year a loafer is the competition shoe to be made. Below, you will find all the info about the competition.
The World Championships of Shoemaking are organized by Shoegazing, The Shoe Snob Blog, and Kirby Allison. Kirby also financially supports the contest, together with help from the book project Master Shoemakers and Parker Schenecker (the brother of the co-founder of the contest, shoe enthusiast Edmund Schenecker, who passed away in 2021). The contest has been a great success since its inaugural year and has meant invaluable attention both for individual shoemakers and the shoemaking craft.
The first edition of the World Championships of Shoemaking was won by the German Patrick Frei, with Daniel Wegan, Sweden, and Philippe Atienza, France, as runner-ups. In 2019 the UK-based Swede Daniel Wegan took the crown, with Christophe Corthay, France, in second and Eiji Murata, Japan, in third. In 2022, it became the year of the Japanese, with Wataru Shimamoto as the champion and Ken Kataoka and Kenjiro Kawashima as runner-ups. Lastly, this year we had Frenchman Athanase Sephocle of Berluti as the winner, Victor Vulpe from Romania as 2nd, and Louis Lampertsdörfer, Germany, in 3rd. The quality of the top shoes has been astonishing, with a level of craftsmanship that we haven’t seen in a long time in the shoe world.
The top three shoes each year go on a world tour, this time it’s taken the shoes to Paris, Bukarest, Stockholm, Dallas, New York, Tokyo, and soon Chennai, Bangkok, Beijing, Shanghai, Melbourne, and Singapore. In Tokyo, they were displayed at one of the largest department stores in the world, Isetan Shinjuku in the Isetan Men’s building. They held an event for the showcasing where Jesper of Shoegazing, Victor Vulpe, and Louis Lampertsdörfer were present. They will also be showcased at the other big department store, Mitsukoshi Ginza, during the final of the Japanese shoe shining champs.
It’s great to see that shoe lovers around the world have had the chance to admire the craftsmanship, and people who don’t know much about shoes have discovered what can be done. Media coverage has been great, with features in large global media like Nikkei International and a lot of domestic media. We’re also very happy about the fact that the industry has acknowledged the competition and feedback from shoemakers and shoe people has been very positive since the start.
Worth noting is that we who organize this make no money on it at all, everything we get from the partners goes directly to the prize sum, to the shoemakers.
Around 100 years ago there were numerous prestigious shoemaking competitions around the world. These competitions pushed the shoemakers in their craft and made them create amazing stuff which not necessarily ideal for actual use, but was incredible as showpieces. With the World Championships of Shoemaking, we wanted to bring back some of this. And at the same time, do our best to show the competition shoes to a wide audience, something that can be a positive thing for the industry and the specific brands/makers. We’ve indeed seen that placing high in the contest has meant very positive things for the makers in terms of recognition and new customers. For some, the contest has even been vital in making it possible for them to continue their shoemaking careers.
Now it’s time for the fifth round. Below, in the official Call for Competition, you can find all the details on how it unfolds. For bespoke shoe brands and/or people who work with making shoes, you will find out how to enter the World Championships. But to summarize, the contestants will make a light brown full strap loafer, with a leather sole, hand welted with handmade sole stitching. The criteria that will be judged are the degree of difficulty in the execution of the making, and the overall design/aesthetics. We’ve gone from a black plain cap-toe oxford the first year and then opened up for more and more creativity with the choices of. Now, we wanted to take things back a bit design-wise, with a loafer we now do perhaps the most casual style yet, including the use of an apron vamp, which we hope will result in showcasing skill in new ways for the makers, for example, with more square waists etc.
The 1st prize is £3,000, 2nd £2,000, and 3rd £1,000, they receive one handmade awl by Phil Norsworthy, medals, plus all podium-placed shoes will be exhibited as usual in various locations around the world, similar to previous tours. When the contest is over all shoes will be sent back to the shoemakers and can be used as sample display shoes (for the top three after the tour). On Shoegazing and The Shoe Snob Blog, and in our social media channels we will also showcase all entries in the world championships, and partner Kirby Allison will do films on the contest on his Youtube channel.
We hope to continue to get a wide variety of brands and shoemakers entering the competition this time as well. Both larger, more established firms and smaller less known one-man operations, which has been the case every year. To enter the competition, you need to register by sending an e-mail to [email protected] no later than January 31st, 2024 (NOTE: We have the new updated competition process, with a pre-qualification run, to not have more than 30 entries at the final in London. More info below). Any questions about the competition can also be sent here (do read the Call for competition found below carefully first though).
We do understand that there can be discussions on how this type of competition is set up and how it’s judged but hope that people this year will understand that what we do and judge here is what is stated in this text below (for example, wearability is not a criterion, since it’s more or less impossible to draw the line of what is wearable or not, and it’s the craftsmanship of the shoes that are in focus since fit is more or less impossible to judge, and it’s not something that is especially thrilling to make a contest around).
In the jury who will review the shoes are several bespoke shoemakers and professionals within the industry, the preliminary jury members are shoemakers Philippe Atienza (previously John Lobb Paris and Massaro), Dominic Casey (previously George Cleverley), Masaru Okuyama (Japanese bespoke shoemaker, previously based in Hong Kong, now in the UK), Sebastian Tarek (independent shoemaker who previously have done outwork for many of the London West End firms), Nicholas Templeman (previously John Lobb London, now runs his own brand), Patrick Verdillon of John Lobb Paris (manager of John Lobb Paris’ bespoke operations), and Saskia Wittmer (bespoke shoemaker based in Florence, Italy). To also add a slightly different view we have shoe experts Jesper Ingevaldsson of Shoegazing and Justin FitzPatrick of The Shoe Snob Blog, part of the jury, and the sponsors who are making this contest possible (together with Parker Schenecker): Kirby Allison, of Kirbyallison.com, and Gary Tok, author of Master Shoemakers.
The final of the World Championships of Shoemaking 2024 will take place at the next London Super Trunk Show, which is on Saturday, May 4th 2024, at Showcase.co on Regent Street just below Piccadilly Circus. Stay tuned for more info about the event. The Super Trunk will as in previous times gather up to 15 exhibitors from all over the world, and it will among other things host the final in the World Championships of Shoe Shining and also the World Championships of Shoe Patina. So mark May 4th, 2024 in your calendar straight away, and start looking into travels, etc. As always, please help us spread the word about the contest! Thank you so much!
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS IN SHOEMAKING 2024 – OFFICIAL CALL FOR COMPETITION
Criteria for shoe:
– Full strap loafer, separate apron piece with stitching (3-5 separate leather pieces in total), decorations like penny hole, brogueing, punching, and decorative stitching is okay but not necessary.
– One left shoe, size UK8 (or corresponding size), maximum 2 width sizes up or down from an acceptable standard width.
– Smooth light brown calf leather, box calf or aniline dyed, no patina.
– Leather sole.
– Hand welted, handmade sole stitch.
– Brown sole and heel edges, natural colored bottom (decorations with for example wheels or nails are ok, but no dye or burnish).
– Finished inside of the shoe, with sock lining etc.
– No branding.
– Due to practical reasons, we will not fully remove potential shoe trees for the jury review, but the shoe trees won’t be part of the judging.
Errors with respect to the above specifications will result in deductions of points, a 5% deduction of total points for small errors, and a 10% deduction of total points for larger errors. If the shoe does not follow specifications at all, it can be disqualified. Jury decisions on the above cannot be overruled.
Competitors can enter both as a company or as a person. All persons that have been part of the making of the shoe should be stated, and which process(es) each person has made.
Criteria that will be judged:
Degree of difficulty (maximum 10 points per jury member)
The jury looks at how complicated construction methods have been used, how advanced they have been built both in large and in smaller details, etc.
Execution (maximum 10 points)
The jury looks at how well the various parts of the shoe construction have been made, how neat and clean the work is, how well executed the level of finishing is, etc.
Design/aesthetics (maximum 5 points)
The jury looks at the overall aesthetics of the shoe, proportions, balance etc.
1st prize: £3,000. Handmade awl. Gold medal. Shoe showcased at shoe stores around the world.
2nd prize: £2,000. Handmade awl. Silver medal. Shoe showcased at shoe stores around the world.
3rd prize: £1,000. Handmade awl. Bronze medal. Shoe showcased at shoe stores around the world.
How to enter the competition:
Competitors who wish to enter the contest need to register to [email protected] no later than January 31st, 2024, and send in name/brand under which you wish to enter. Only one entry per competitor. It is free of charge to enter the competition. For any questions, send an e-mail to the address above. We encourage brands/makers to take pictures of the making process to be shared after the final on May 13 (but the shoe cannot be shown to the public prior to the event).
Judging process and award ceremony:
The first deadline is Sunday, April 2nd, 2024. Here all contestants are to send in photos of their finished shoe (info will be given via e-mail on how to be photographed). If more than 30 entries are sent in at this stake, we will do a pre-qualification round where the jury will select 30 entries that will make the shortlist for the London final, where the jury will judge the shoes in person and where the shoes will be exhibited at the super trunk.
By April 8th, 2024 the shoemakers who’ve made it to the final will be informed (or all if less than 30 send in for pre-qualification), and they will be given the address and details to ship the shoes to in London. The finalist shoes need to arrive in London no later than Wednesday, May 1st, 2024. The taxes/duties must be prepaid or arranged so that we do not get asked to pay. Otherwise, the shoes will be rejected. The shoes will be presented anonymously*. Note that due to this, competing shoemakers can not show the competition shoes on social media until May 4th, 2024 and they cannot reveal that they are entering the contest.
The jury review of the 30 finalist shoes will take place on Friday, May 3rd, 2024. These shoes will be displayed during the London Super Trunk Show event on Saturday, May 4th, where the award ceremony will take place at 5.30pm. Then the world champion of shoemaking and the podium places will be announced (competitors don’t have to be on-site themselves, though of course always great when contestants are present in London), with the full top ten list (the other positions will be revealed later). All competition shoes (also the ones who don’t make the final 30 if this is the case, although these will not be ranked) will also be showcased on Shoegazing and The Shoe Snob’s blogs, top shoes will be featured on Kirby Allison’s YouTube channel, and many of them in our social media channels.
The jury (preliminary, more names to be added):
Philippe Atienza, bespoke shoemaker
Dominic Casey, bespoke shoemaker
Masaru Okyuama bespoke shoemaker
Sebastian Tarek, bespoke shoemaker
Nicholas Templeman, bespoke shoemaker
Patrick Verdillon, director John Lobb Paris bespoke
Saskia Wittmer, bespoke shoemaker
Kirby Allison, sponsor, founder of the Kirby Allison store
Gary Tok, sponsor, author of Master Shoemakers
Jesper Ingevaldsson, Shoegazing
Justin FitzPatrick, The Shoe Snob Blog
The jury decision cannot be overruled.
The shoes will be returned to the contestants and can be used as display shoes (for the top three, after the tour around the world). In the case they need to be shipped back, the contestant needs to sort the return shipping with a pre-paid return shipping label.
*Jesper Ingevaldsson of Shoegazing will know who enters the contest, due to him taking care of the registration and answering questions. For all others part of the jury, the shoes will be strictly anonymous.