Shoemakers in Paris: the knowhow behind exceptional craftsmanship

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In Paris, capital of the world when it comes to fashion and elegance, the profession of shoemaker is held in high regard. As befits an ancestral art. Opting for made-to-measure shoes in Paris is not only a luxury, it is also about carrying forward a tradition of quality and Gallic good taste. They are made in a shoemaker’s workshop. A true sanctuary where made-to-measure shoes reach the status of works of art. Would you like to (literally) find the perfect shoes during your stay in the capital? Then read on. Let’s explore the world of fine shoemaking together and find your nearest shoemaker’s boutique in Paris!

The history of the shoemaking trade in Paris

In Paris, shoemaking and leatherwork are crafts that go back centuries. Over the years, Parisian shoemakers have succeeded in holding onto their craftsmanship whist incorporating a number of technical innovations.
In their boutiques or workshops, often located in neighbourhoods steeped in history such as Le Marais or Saint-Germain-des-Prés. These leather craftsman carry forward unique know-how.

In Paris, this trade dates back to medieval times, when the first shoemakers set up their workshops, making shoes for the nobility and the bourgeoisie. The French word for “shoemaker” (“cordonnier”) comes from Cordoba, the Spanish city where goatskin called “cordouan” would be made and tanned.
The brotherhood of shoemakers, under the patronage of Saint Crépin and Saint Crépinien, was authorised to set up in Notre Dame de Paris in the mid-16th century. Over time, the shoemaking profession developed and became specialised.

Today, the Parisian shoemaker is a highly skilled craftsman who is proficient in every stage of shoe creation. From precise measurements of the foot to discerning selection of materials, often exceptional leather.
In his shoemaking workshop in Paris, he creates fine, comfortable ankle boots or moccasins, perfectly tailored to the needs of each customer. These days, made-to-measure shoes made in Paris, are emblematic of excellence and elegance around the world.

To take it further, check out our advice on spotting a good made-to-measure tailor in Paris.

The process of creating a made-to-measure shoe

In Paris, the creation of made-to-measure shoes and footwear is an art, practised in a bootmaker’s or shoemaker’s workshop with unrivalled precision and expertise. These specialist boutiques are often located in iconic districts such as Le Marais and Saint-Germain-des-Prés. These are major centres of leather craftsmanship.

The creation process for footwear – also known as bespoke – in these Parisian workshops is a true odyssey, combining tradition and a modern approach. Much like the process of creating a women’s suit.

the key stages in this meticulous process

  • Measure-taking: the first step is to take the precise dimensions of the heel, arch, toes, etc. This makes it possibles to create a shoe perfectly suited to the shape of each of your feet.
  • Selection of materials: the choice of materials, often exceptional leathers, is crucial. Parisian shoemakers work with high-end suppliers. To make for high-quality, hardwearing shoes.
  • Creation of the carved wooden last: a wooden last, usually made of beech or maple, is carved to render the exact shape of the foot. The leather is then shaped on this assembly last.
  • Design and pattern-making: sketches and patterns are made to determine the design and structure of the shoe. This stage calls for considerable technical and artistic know-how.
  • Cutting and assembly: the carefully selected leather is cut according to the patterns and carefully pieced together. Each piece is sewn by hand with extreme precision.
  • Finishing and customisation: lastly, the final stages include polishing, colouring, or patina, and adding personalised details such as embroidery or engraving.

The end result is a pair of bespoke shoes, designed and made in an artisan’s workshop in Paris, that combine comfort, quality and elegance.

The benefits of wearing made-to-measure shoes

There is a host of benefits to made-to-measure shoes, handcrafted by artisans in Paris:

  • Bespoke shoes offer unrivalled comfort. Because they are designed to be perfectly tailored to the shape of your feet.
  • High-quality materials, particularly leather, and the technical know-how of our artisans make for exceptionally hardwearing footwear.
  • Customisation is the third pillar, making it possible to create unique shoes. True works of art.

How do you pick the right shoemaker in Paris?

There’s no shortage of shops and workshops in the capital, where this craft is practised with a passion. There are several criteria to consider in order to narrow down your selection:

  • the boutique’s reputation.
  • the artisan’s portfolio.
  • customer reviews

The Marais, Madeleine and Saint-Germain-des-Prés areas, all within easy reach of the 7th arrondissement, are also centres of fine leather goods crafting and shoemaking.

When you first visit these Parisian workshops, it’s essential to ask questions about the creation process. As well as the materials used and customisation options.

So now you have all you need to seek out the shoemaker that’s right for you, whilst exploring the 7th arrondissement of Paris and the surrounding area. It’s time you got acquainted with the luxury of footwear designed and handcrafted for the style and wellbeing of your feet.