News - R.I.P. Stephane Jimenez

There’s been too many of these lately. News about great shoe people passing away. Now the iconic French bespoke shoemaker Stephane Jimenez has deceassed after a period of illness, at a too young age. A shoemaker that perhaps wasn’t the most famous name for a wider audience, but highly respected among shoemakers and shoe aficionados around the world.


Last week I wrote about the passing of Enzo Bonafé, and then also mentioned that British bespoke shoemaker Jason Amesbury just had died. Since then I also learned that Javier Sendra who owned the Sendra factory in Spain passed away last week. Now it’s time again. Stephane Jimenez was a man who went his own ways and always wanted to progress and develop, both as a person and as a shoemaker. He entered the sphere as many other French, through the trainee programme Les Compagnons du Devoir where one do a tour to a number of shoemakers to learn more and more and finally become a professional shoemaker. The tour normally takes seven years, Jimenez did his between 1988-1995.

Through the years one need to finish several pairs that are to be evaluated before one can continue to the next step, and at the end of the programme every trainee do a “masterpiece” to showcase the skills they have achieved. The pair Stephane Jimenez did was a statement that showcased that this was not just your everyday shoemaker, this was someone with serious ambitions. A pair of knee high motorcycle boots, made by himself alone, with uppers stitched entirely by hand and with Norwegian construction. It took about 450 hours to make. Still today when one talk about Compagnons masterpieces, Jimenez’ boots always comes up.

His masterpiece boots, that took a whopping 450 hours to make.

His masterpiece boots, that took a whopping 450 hours to make.

His professional career had three main stops. First, the bespoke department of John Lobb Paris, where he worked for several years and developed his skills in many areas. He was very appreciative of what the company meant for him and for many other of the most famous shoemakers of France. It was also there that he learned to appreciate the repair part of a shoemaking business, with his final task at the company being to develop a new repair set-up.

After this, he moved to Florence, Italy, and started working for Stefano Bemer, eventually being the head of the bespoke workshop here. In an interview with Parisian Gentleman Stephane Jimenes stated that “at Stefano Bemer, during the time he was still alive, I found the right place for me. Everything needed to be done. I had a staff to train, projects to develop, and a fantastic spirit of creativity. No rules. No traditional frame of thinking.” At Bemer he also met his wife, Tomoé Furuta, a Japanese shoemaker specialised on upper making.

Stephane Jimenez samples.

Stephane Jimenez samples. Photos: Stephane Jimenez

The two moved to Bordeaux in France where they set up a repair workshop, where they only repaired high end Goodyear welted and bespoke shoes, which they ran for several years. Jimenez had plans to do more than that though. In 2015 he presented his own brand, Stephane Jimenez Bottier, where he and Tomoé Furuta set out to deliver an “uncompromising bespoke experience”. With highly characteristic, very well-designed footwear he took the most discerning shoe lovers by storm and received huge amounts of praise.

A while ago, Stephane Jimenez was diagnosed with cancer, the same illness that took his companion Stefano Bemer away a decade ago. Now, Jimenez sadly lost this battle. His openness and commitment to the shoemaking craft as well as his astonishing pieces of footwear will be remembered for a long time.

R.I.P. Stephane Jimenez

R.I.P. Stephane Jimenez. Picture (also top photo): Andy Julia / Shoes – The Art of Male Footwear / Parisian Gentleman