An Afternoon with the Sandal and the Craftsman

Last week I paid a visit to The Sandal and the Craftsman pop-up in Shoreditch to have a pair of Italian leather sandals made before my very eyes, to my own specifications. Sharon and I first came across the pop-up when it was located on Redchurch Street – it’s now moved to Rivington Street and will be there until June 23rd. The concept is the brainchild of Francesca and Anita, friends who wanted to bring the classic sandals they grew up wearing on the southern coast of Italy to a more urban setting.

Francesca with the colourful bolts of leather straps

Francesca with the colourful bolts of leather straps

You choose the colours of the leather straps, then Thomas the specially trained shoe maker measures your feet on the leather soles (stitched, not glued) which have been made in Italy and shipped over specially. He marks precisely where to put the straps, then starts putting everything together.


There are three different sandal styles to choose from – 001 and 002 are £110 and ready-made in a variety of different colours and finishes of leather – 003 is the one you get to customise and they cost £60.


Diana Vreeland discovered the elegant simplicity of Italy’s sandals when she was staying with Mona Williams on the island of Capri and she championed them when she got back to the States. As our July 2nd Pamflet salon is all about the marvellous Mrs Vreeland (have you got your ticket yet?) AND I’m going to Capri for my summer holiday, it all felt rather serendipitous.


I felt an almost childish excitement when it came to choosing the strips of coloured leather for my sandals – in the end I went for a combination of timeless tan and a single strip of fluoro orange.


While I was waiting for Thomas to put the finishing touches to the sandals (it takes around fifteen minutes), curious passers-by were popping their heads in the door, attracted by the colourful activity inside. The space is located right behind where the Foundry (gawd rest its soul) used to be, at the Old Street end of Rivington Street.


It’s such a simple concept and set-up, but brilliantly executed with real passion and attention to detail so every customer feels like they’ve truly been part of the design process and are walking away with something that’s unique to them. I wish there was more of this kind of fashion design on every street corner – it’s affordable (£60 for handmade Italian leather sandals?!) and ethical, because there’s total transparency in the chain of production.



Check The Sandal and the Craftsman’s website or Facebook page or follow them on Twitter @sandalcraftsman to see where they’ll be popping up next.

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Co-founder and co-editor of Pamflet. Bookworm, bluestocking, Brown Owl. Loves Garconnes style, reading, writing, ranting and raving. Gin snob.
About phoebe:

Co-founder and co-editor of Pamflet. Bookworm, bluestocking, Brown Owl. Loves Garconnes style, reading, writing, ranting and raving. Gin snob.

Find all posts by phoebe


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