A story of shoes and their maker and answering age-old questions
When shoemaker Thierry Rabotin sent new soles for my shoes, they added something to the parcel – a stylish book containing glossy life-sized shoe images.
There was also a section about how their shoes were made. This was sent for me to show the repairer. It was clear this shoemaker valued me beyond making a sale. I value the shoes for their comfort. In the book, the Frenchman remembers the relief he felt as a child when he took off his shoes. He recalls watching his grandmother and seeing her eyes “light up with serenity” as she took off her shoes. From this the “answering the age-old question” of the discomfort of the feet became his personal motivation.
My first pair of Thierry Rabotin shoes was stolen from a London hotel never having been worn, well, not by me. There have been several pairs since. The price may pinch a little at the point of purchase but the shoes never do. They are the shoes I wear more than any others. My second pair was found in Paris, and so loved and worn were they that the soles started to disappear. ‘Shoes much loved, please send soles,’ I emailed to Italy.
Next day came the reply from the factory in Milano province. “Please send me a picture of your sandal and give me your correct size. If you have a good shoe repair I can send you a new pair of soles. I think this is the simplest solution. If the shoe repair needs only the material, we can send the material.”
As I sent off the images of my sandals, I visualised a clan of Italian shoemakers shaking their heads at my lack of care for what they had so tenderly crafted. I needn’t have worried. Inside the book, along with shoes I wanted to walk of the page and into my wardrobe, were shoes far more battle weary than mine. Yet it was not the scuffing that stood out but love. I emailed my thanks and the reply came, “Hope your shoemaker makes a good job. Karl.”
On reading the book I found that Karl is Karlheinz Schlecht, one of the partners along with Giovanni Ceolini and the eponymous designer, Thierry Rabotin.
After my shoes were repaired, I kept the book. Aside from the clear attraction of shoe images, it’s an example of the journey that’s possible between a creator and client. It’s also the kind of narrative that we can collaborate on and develop with you. Contact The Writing Business if you would like to look at ways of telling your story. What age-old question sparked you in your work? People love the connections in stories.
Book : Thierry Rabotin by Parabiago Colleziona, 2007. Concept: Claude Mazzoni
Marian Edmunds is an author, journalist and copywriter. Her most recent publication is ‘Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush’ which appears in the literary travel guide city-pick Istanbul among works by Virginia Woolf and David Byrne (yes Talking Heads) and many more.