World Championships of Shoemaking 2024 - Call for competition

We now open up the fifth edition of the World Championships of Shoemaking, where the final takes place during the London Super Trunk Show on May 4 2024. We have £6,000 (€7,000 / $7,400) and handmade shoemaking awls in the prize pool, and a chance to be showcased in shoe stores around the world. This year a loafer is the competition shoe to be made. Here’s all the info about the competition.

 

The World Championships of Shoemaking is organised by Shoegazing, The Shoe Snob blog, and Kirby Allison, the also financially support the contest, together with support from and the book project Master Shoemakers and Parker Schenecker (the brother of the co-founder of the contest, shoe enthusiast Edmund Schenecker, who passed away in 2021). The contest has been a great success since its inaugural year, and has meant invaluable attention both for individual shoemakers and the shoemaking craft.

First round was won by the German Patrick Frei, with Daniel Wegan, Sweden, and Philippe Atienza, France, as runner ups. In 2019 the UK-based Swede Daniel Wegan took the crown, with Christophe Corthay, France, in second and Eiji Murata, Japan, in third. 2022 was the year of  of the Japanese, with Wataru Shimamoto as the champion and Ken Kataoka and Kenjiro Kawashima as runner ups. Finally now this year we had Frenchman Athanase Sephocle of Berluti as winner, Victor Vulpe from Romania 2nd and Louis Lampertsdörfer, Germany, 3rd. The quality of the top shoes has been astonishing, with a level of craftsmanship that we haven’t seen in in a long time in the shoe world.

All entries this year being showcased for the 1,200 visitors of the London Super Trunk Show. Top picture: Skolyx

The entries this year being showcased for the almost 1,300 visitors of the London super trunk.

The top three shoes each year go on a world tour, this time it’s taken the shoes to Paris, Bukarest, Stockholm, Dallas, New York, Tokyo and soon Chennai, Bangkok, Beijing, Shanghai, Melbourne and Singapore. In Tokyo they were displayed at one of the largest department stores in the world, Isetan Shinjuku in the Isetan Men’s building where an event with me, Victor Vulpe and Louis Lampertsdörfer was held, and it will also be showcased at the other big department store Mitsukoshi Ginza during the final of the Japanese shoe shining champs.

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. Media coverage has been great, with features in large global media like Nikkei International and a lot of domestic media. 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 stuff 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. For some, the contest has even been vital in making it possible for them to continue their shoemaking careers.

The top three shoes on display during an event at the huge department store Isetan Men's in Tokyo.

The top three boots from this year on display during an event at the huge department store Isetan Men’s in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan.

The contest shoes on display in the department store.

Last year top contest shoes on display at Isetan.

The top three shoes from 2019 on the their world tour, here at Medallion Shoes in Shanghai. Picture: Medallion Shoes

The top three shoes on the their world tour, here in Unipair in Seoul, South Korea. Picture: Unipair

The top three shoes from the first year, here at Unipair in Seoul, South Korea. Picture: Unipair

Now it’s time for the fifth 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 light brown full strap loafer, with a leather sole, hand welted with handmade sole stitching. The criteria that will be judged are the degree of difficulty and the execution of the making, and 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, with a loafer we now do perhaps the most casual style yet, including the use of an apron vamp, which we hope will result in showcasing skill in new ways for the makers, for example with more square waists etc.

This is the basic style for this year's contest shoe, although we are opening for variations to it. Read more in the specs below. Full strap loafers normally have the penny hole of the strap, but there's certainly versions without as well.

This is the basic style for this year’s contest shoe, although we are opening for variations to it. Read more in the specs below. Full strap loafers normally have the penny hole of the strap, but there’s certainly versions without as well. Picture (also top image): Norman Vilalta

This is the basic style for this year's contest shoe, although we are opening for variations to it. Read more in the specs below.

It’s the first model where we use an apron model, and I really look forward to see a variation of well executed such. Picture: Alden of San Diego

We hope to see various casual takes of the style as well, since also there one can do a lot of spectacular and difficult techniques and be awarded high points.

We hope to see various casual takes of the style as well, since also there one can do a lot of spectacular and difficult techniques and be awarded high points.

An old fine bespoke sample of a Foster & Son full strap loafer in tan. Picture: Foster & Son

An old fine bespoke sample of a Foster & Son full strap loafer in tan. Picture: Foster & Son

1st prize is £3,000, 2nd £2,000 and 3rd £1,000, they receive one handmade awl by Phil Norsworthy, medals, plus all podium placed shoes will be exhibited as usual 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 will do films on the contest on his Youtube channel.

We hope to continue 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, which has been the case every year. To enter the competition, you need to register by sending an e-mail to shoegazingblog@gmail.com no later than January 31 2024 (NOTE: We have the new 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).

World champion 2023, Athanase Sephocle, who works for Berluti in France. Picture: Berluti

World champion 2023, Athanase Sephocle, who works for Berluti in France. Picture: Berluti

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 Philippe Atienza (previously John Lobb Paris and Massaro), Dominic Casey (previously George Cleverley), Masaru Okuyama (Japanese bespoke shoemaker, previously based in Hong Kong, now in the UK), Sebastian Tarek (independent shoemaker who previously have done outwork for many of the London West End firms), Nicholas Templeman (previously John Lobb London, now runs his own brand), Jean-Michel Casalong (head lastmaker and manager of Berluti’s Paris bespoke workshop), and Saskia Wittmer (bespoke shoemaker based in Florence, Italy).  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 4 2024, 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 up to 15 exhibitors from all over the world, and it will among other things host the final in the World Championships of Shoe Shining and also World Championships of Shoe Patina. So mark May 4 in your calendar straight away, start looking into travels, etc. And as always, please help us spread the word about the contest!

At the award ceremony in London this year, when the top is announced.

At the award ceremony in London this year, when the top is announced.

 


 

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS OF SHOEMAKING 2024 – OFFICIAL CALL FOR COMPETITION

Criteria for shoe:
– Full strap loafer, separate apron piece with stitching (3-5 separate leather pieces in total), decorations like penny hole, brogueing, punching and decorative stitching are okay but not necessary.

– One left shoe, size UK8 (or corresponding size), maximum 2 width sizes up or down from an acceptable standard width.
– Smooth light brown calf leather, box calf or aniline dyed, no patina.
– Leather sole.
– Hand welted, handmade sole stitch.
– Brown 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.

Prizes:
1st prize: £3,000. Handmade awl. Gold medal. Shoe showcased at shoe stores around the world.

2nd prize: £2,000. Handmade awl. Silver medal. Shoe showcased at shoe stores around the world.
3rd prize: £1,000. Handmade awl. Bronze medal. Shoe showcased at shoe stores around the world.

How to enter the competition:
Competitors who wish to enter the contest need to register to shoegazingblog@gmail.com no later than January 31 2024, 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 4 (but the shoe cannot be shown to the public prior to the event).

Judging process and award ceremony:
First deadline is Sunday April 2 2024. 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 8, 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 1, 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 4, and they cannot reveal that they are entering the contest.

The jury review of the 30 finalist shoes will take place on Friday May 3. These shoes will be displayed during the London Super Trunk Show event on Saturday May 4, where the award ceremony will take place at 5.30pm. Then the world champion of shoemaking and the podium places will be announced (competitors don’t have to be on site themselves, though of course always great when contestants are present in London), with the full top ten list (the other positions will be revealed later). All competition shoes (also the ones who don’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, top shoes will be featured on Kirby Allison’s YouTube channel, and many of them in our social media channels.

The jury (preliminary):
Philippe Atienza, bespoke shoemaker
Dominic Casey, bespoke shoemaker
Masaru Okyuama bespoke shoemaker

Sebastian Tarek, bespoke shoemake

Nicholas Templeman, bespoke shoemaker
Jean-Michel Casalonga, bespoke shoemaker at Berluti
Saskia Wittmer, 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.