‘A shoe has something sensual – you’re selling a piece of temptation’ – Wopke Grobben.
As old, if not older than the ark, shoes have been around in many forms throughout the ages, the oldest known pair of shoes being sandals and dating from 8000 to 7000 BC. With the rise of wealth in Europe in the Middle Ages, shoes left the realms of being made solely as a protection for the foot and became status symbols, often with over-exaggerated features. By 1800, a sew-on-sole had appeared and shoes consisted of a left and right foot, as opposed to “straights” where both shoes were identical.
To make a shoe, a ‘last’ (wooden shoe form) has to be made from a casting of the wearer’s feet. This is carved and shaped until it is a perfect blueprint and can be used time and time again. Combine this with details about the wearer and the success of the shoes is assured. ‘Shoes compliment the person’ says Wopke. He explains that everyone has their own tone colour and personal palette, which when combined with lifestyle details, and not forgetting the time honoured principle of the golden ratio, results in the creation of the perfect pair of shoes. This sounds like a magical formula reminiscent of a fairytale, ‘The Elves and the Shoemaker’ by The Grimm Brothers.