Shoegazing Podcast - Ep. 31, Jim McCormack, about life as a freelance bespoke shoemaker

The legendary British bespoke shoemaker Jim McCormack has worked five decades as an outworker for various big and small bespoke shoe companies in England. Hear him talk about life as an outworker and how this system works, about the development of the bespoke shoe scene in the UK the last 50 years, and much more.


Few people in the world know more about the bespoke shoe business in England in general and the outworker system in particular than Jim McCormack. Since the 70’s he has worked in the shoe business, and for more or less all of these years, he has worked as an outworker, doing bottom making for many different firms. England is the country in the world where the outworker system is the most extended. We talk a lot about the freelance system, how it works, the pros and cons and so on.

Jim McCormack.

Jim McCormack. Picture: Tony Slinger / YouTube

But before that we cover Jim McCormack’s own journey into the shoemaking world, hear stories from for example John Lobb back in the 70’s, go through the different stages of the bespoke shoemaking scene in the UK the past 50 years, and much more.

Listen to the episode below, or in your preferred podcast player. All episodes of the Shoegazing Podcast can be found here. An extra recommendation on episode 22 where Jean-Michel Casalonga of Berluti talks about running a large bespoke workshop, the sort of counterpart to the freelance system.