Time for the fourth World Championships of Shoemaking, where the final takes place during the London Super Trunk Show on May 13 2023. In the prize pool is £6,000 (€7,000 / $7,300), and a chance to be showcased for shoe lovers around the world. For the first time, a boot is to be made. Here’s all the info about the competition.
The World Championships of Shoemaking is organised by Shoegazing and The Shoe Snob, in collaboration with the webshop Kirby Allison and the book project Master Shoemakers, with support from Parker Schenecker (the brother of the co-founder of the event, shoe enthusiast Edmund Schenecker, who sadly passed away in 2021). The contest has been a huge success, with three amazing years. First round was won by the German Patrick Frei, with Daniel Wegan and Philippe Atienza as runner ups. In 2019 the UK-based Swede Daniel Wegan took the crown, with Christophe Corthay in second and Eiji Murata in third. This year was the year of the Japanese, with Wataru Shimamoto as the champion and Ken Kataoka and Kenjiro Kawashima as runner ups. The quality of the top shoes has been astonishing, with craftsmanship that we haven’t seen in many decades.
The top three shoes each year go on a world tour, this time it’s taken the shoes to Hong Kong, New York, Dallas, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai and soon Seoul, Bangkok and Melbourne. In Tokyo they were displayed at one of the largest department stores in the world, Isetan Shinjuku in the Isetan Men’s building. The three top contestants and me meet and greet session about the contest and the shoes, and the business newspaper Nikkei are doing a big feature on the contest. 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. We’re also very happy of the fact that the industry have acknowledged the competition, feedback from shoemakers and shoe people have been very positive since the start.
Worth noting is that we who organise 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 of prestigious shoemaking competitions around the world. These competitions pushed the shoemakers in their craft, made them create amazing shoes which not necessarily would be ideal for actual use, but 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 for 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 have meant very positive things for the makers in terms of recognition and new customers.
Now it’s time for the fourth round. Below in the official call for competition you can find all the details on how it unfolds, and for bespoke shoe brands or people who work with making shoes, how to enter the world championships. But to summarise it, the contestants will make a black balmoral lace up boot with a punched cap toe, a leather sole, hand welted with handmade sole stitch. The criteria that will be judged are the degree of difficulty and the execution of the making, but also 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 models, now we wanted to take things back a bit design-wise, at the same time as we’re doing a boot for the first time which creates new challenges and opportunities.
1st prize is £3,000, 2nd £2,000 and 3rd £1,000, plus all podium placed shoes will be exhibited as usual be exhibited at the Isetan Men’s department store in Tokyo, Japan (likely in a new version of the Isetan Shoe Expo, hopefully this event will be back in full next year, even if the Shoe Shining Champion of Champions part will wait a bit more for a new edition), and at other stores 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 top three after the tour). On Shoegazing and The Shoe Snob and in our social media channels we will also showcase all entries in the world championships, and partner Kirby Allison always do great films on the contest on his Youtube channel.
We hope 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. To enter the competition, you need to register by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than January 31 2023 (NOTE: We have an 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 also this year will understand that what we do here and judge here is what is stated in this text below (for example, wearability is not a criteria, 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 Dominic Casey (previously George Cleverley) Jean-Michel Casalonga of Berluti (workshop manager and lastmaker in Berluti’s Paris workshop),Masaru Okuyama (Japanese bespoke shoemaker, previously based in Hong Kong, now in the UK), Philippe Atienza (previously John Lobb Paris and Massaro), and Sebastian Tarek (independent shoemaker who previously have done outwork for many of the London West End firms). Plan is to add one or two more jury members, including an Italian maker to the jury line-up. To also add a slightly different view we have shoe experts Jesper Ingevaldsson of Shoegazing and Justin FitzPatrick of The Shoe Snob 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 will take place at the next London Super Trunk Show, which is on Saturday May 13 2023, at Showcase.co on Regent Street just below Piccadilly Circus. Stay tuned for more info about the event in a while. The super trunk will as previous times gather more than 10 brands from all over the world, and it will among other things host the final in the World Championships in Shoe Shining and also World Championships in Shoe Patina. So put a mark in your calendar for May 13. And as always, please help us spread the word about the contest!
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS IN SHOEMAKING 2023 – OFFICIAL CALL FOR COMPETITION
Criteria for shoe:
– Balmoral lace up boot model, closed lacing, with a brogued / punched cap toe (3-5 separate leather pieces excluding tongue, only brogueing / punching along the toe cap)
– One left shoe, size UK8 (or corresponding size), maximum 2 width sizes up or down from an acceptable standard width
– Smooth black box calf / aniline dyed calf upper (so not surface-dyed black)
– Leather sole
– Hand welted, handmade sole stitch
– Black sole and heel edges, natural coloured 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 in respect to the above specifications will result in deductions of points, 5% deduction of total points for small errors, 10% deduction of total points on 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 in the making of the shoe should be stated, and which process(es) each person have made.
Criteria that will be judged:
Degree of difficulty (maximum 10 points per jury member)
Jury look at how complicated construction methods that have been used, how advanced they have been built both in large and in smaller details, etc.
Execution (maximum 10 points)
Jury look 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)
Jury look at the overall aesthetics of the shoe, proportions, balance etc.
1st prize: £3,000. Gold medal. Shoe showcased at Isetan Men’s department store in Shinjuku, Tokyo, plus other stores around the world.
2nd prize: £2,000. Silver medal. Shoe showcased at Isetan Men’s in Tokyo, plus other stores around the world.
3rd prize: £1,000. Bronze medal. Shoe showcased at Isetan Men’s in Tokyo, plus other stores around the world.
How to enter the competition:
Competitors who wish to enter the contest need to register to email@example.com no later than January 31 2023, 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:
First deadline is Sunday April 9 2023. 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 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 16, 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 needs to arrive in London no later than Wednesday May 10, and have to be shipped so that no customs etc. end up on us. The shoes will be presented anonymously*. Note that due to this, competing shoemakers can not show the competition shoes in for example social media until May 13, and they cannot reveal that they are entering the contest.
The jury review of the 30 finalist shoes will take place on Friday May 12. These shoes will be displayed during the London Super Trunk Show event on Saturday May 13, where the award ceremony will take place at 16.00. Then the World Champion of Shoemaking and the podium places will be announced (competitors don’t have to be in place themselves), with the full top ten list (the other positions will be revealed later). All competition shoes (also the ones who donn’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 and many of them in our social media channels.
The jury (preliminary, more names to be added):
Dominic Casey, bespoke shoemaker
Jean-Michel Casalonga, lastmaker and workshop manager, Berluti
Masaru Okyuama bespoke shoemaker
Philippe Atienza, bespoke shoemaker
Sebastian Tarek, 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
The jury decision cannot be overruled.
The shoes will be returned to the contestants and can be used as display shoes (for top three, after the tour around the world). In the case they need to be shipped back, the contestant need 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.