Another super trunk done – another amazing shoe day to remember. Almost 1,300 visitors came to the event last Saturday and explored the shoe offerings from the 10+ exhibitors, second hand shoes, shoe care and accessories, plus followed the three world championships contests. Here’s a substantial summary of the day.
It was evident that the pandemic really is over, with a higher pressure than ever from visitors (despite a train strike which may have affected locals a bit) who also in many cases had travelled in from around the world. Also, people seemed to stay around to a larger extent, talk to each other, spend time with the exhibitors, and so on. Atmosphere in the venue on 12 Regent Street, almost as central as one can be in London, was lovely the whole day, which me and Justin FitzPatrick of The Shoe Snob who organise the event were really grateful for.
The contests kicks off already 15 minutes after opening in the morning, when the three patina finalists sat down at their tables to transform a pair of crust TLB Mallorca Artista shoes into something spectacular, with the use of Saphir leather dyes, creams and waxes. Finalists this year were Alberto Suastez from the US, Rod Baudry from France, and his countryman Philippe Yang. The latter took the crown after five hours of work throughout the day, with an incredible patina job that had both contrast, depth and finely executed details. Also the other finalists work was of high class, with different styles.
In the afternoon it was time for the fifth edition of the World Championships of Shoe Shining. Always a spectacular happening, and the crowd was huge in front of the stage. The three finalists – Paul Black from Northern Ireland, Japanese Naoki Hayashida and Albert Gjukaj from Switzerland – had 20 minutes to use their Saphir Medaille d’Or waxes and shine the Loake 1880 Aldwych shoe as neat, beautiful and shiny as possible. Once again an Asian shoe shiner took the title, with Naoki Hayashida as number 1.
On two tables greeting the people who entered the venue were 29 black balmoral boots, the entries of the World Championships of Shoemaking 2023. Surely a sight to behold. The first time we had a boot to be made for the contest, which meant new challenges and opportunities for the shoemakers, who came from no less than 14 different countries from around the world. The jury of shoemakers and shoe experts, who during the afternoon the day before the event met to judge all the shoes, awarded the French bespoke maker Athanase Sephocle, who works for Berluti, the gold medal. Second place went to Victor Vulpe from Romania, and third to Louis Lampertsdörfer of Germany. Gladly the two latter were both present at the award ceremony.
The trio will share a prize sum of £6,000 which comes from contest sponsors Kirby Allison, Master Shoemakers and Parker Schenecker, brother of shoe entusiast Edmund Schenecker who sadly passed away two years ago. The three also get a handmade shoemaking awl made by Phil Norsworthy. You can see more of the top three in this article, and much more of them and all the other contest shoes will come in two huge articles later on (it takes a lot of time to put that together though, so bare with me). An incredibly high level of the top three, both in terms of difficulty, execution and creativity. These shoes along with the patina winner will go on a world tour later this year, will be more info about that coming as well.
On to what most visitors come for – the exhibitions. New for this year was a second hand shoes marketplace, where Abbot’s Shoes had brought more than 100 pairs of their quality second hand shoes. Some visitors also brought shoes to have them sold on site, which added another value. This marketplace surely was an appreciated addition. Partner Bresciani from Italy showcased a range of their absolute top-class socks, versions in cotton, silk and wool, in conservative classic styles as well as more bold ones. Main event partner Saphir had a nice updated display, where they now showcased their Saphir Medaille d’Or shoe cream and wax polish range with open jars, giving visitors both a better view of the colour ranges as well as a better feel for the quality of the products. Saphir, together with Marc of Bowbells Shoeshine, offered a much appreciated free shoe shining service throughout the day, where the line at times were long.
Yearn made their first appearance at the super trunk in London, and many visitors were impressed by their fully handmade shoes with sleek silhouettes and fine designs, still located in the midrange price segment. Next to them Bridlen from India had their table, with their classic classy shoes with old-school welting directly to the insole, and what was nice is that now second time they were here they had a bunch of sales to people who got acquainted with them last year and now took the plunge. From Hungary we had Attila, a merge of traditional Austro-Hungarian styles and rather bold modern stuff, fully handmade at great prices.
CNES from Vietnam has established themselves as one of the best bang-for-the-buck brands out there, with Goodyear welted and hand welted shoes at an impressive price tag, with a wide range of styles and last shapes. Talking about bang-for-the-buck, one of the quickest growing brands in Japan is Raymar, also offering Goodyear and hand welted at excellent prices, more British in style and also it turned out with their international lasts working getting much praise for a good fit by the visitors. The Noble Shoe, based out of Sweden, showcased Carlos Santos shoes, some Italian goodies from Enzo Bonafè and Paolo Scafora, plus other stuff like the first samples of shoes under its own brand.
At every super trunk we try to showcase shoes also of the absolute highest of level, why Catella, the brand of former world champ Daniel Wegan and now also Sam Norsworthy was present, with among the best bespoke shoes in the world. The specialised UK premium sneaker brand Goral showed that sneakers can also be crafted in a good way with fine materials, they are Blake stitched with real leather lasting boards and felt filler, then sidewall stitched to the cup soles. Finally we had Acme, who already has marvelled the world with their basically bespoke standard RTW, now they also introduced the slightly simpler, more affordable Marvel range. For those who wonder, Paul Sargent sadly had to pull out of the event at a very late stake.
Now Justin and I switch focus to the premiere New York edition of the super trunk show on October 14, but of course the London event will be back again next spring, we look forward to see you all again then!
At the bottom you’ll also find the live stream videos from the three world champs contests as well as a tour around the venue.