Thursday, March 26, 2009
Sydney Shoemaker: Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald is an Australian shoe designer and maker but is no fan of fashion high heels. He brands them “the purest form of fashion escapism" and prefers to design a shoe to look good but also to function well on the kinetic foot. Each pair of shoes he crafts takes an average 40 hours to make. Starting with feet measurements and intimate design requirements he has a fitting three weeks later. Using scrap leather he makes a "foot toile" to try the shoe for size before making heel height adjustments. The finished shoe arrives about four to six weeks later. The bespoke footwear comes at a price which varies from $800 to $1200 AUS for women and $1600 to $2000 for men. He also produces a cheaper, ready-to-wear range that starts at $450 and tops out at $1200 US. Andrew McDonald has created shoes for films including the Star Wars trilogy, Superman Returns and Wolverine, but his core clientele comprises professional women in their 30s and 40s who work in creative industries such as architecture, design and the arts. The shoemaker is offers shoemaking courses and his workshops allow participants at $1950 to work with experts to design and make their own shoes. The process includes designing a pattern and making a shoe toile before cutting the leather, stitching and punching it and finally fitting the sole and heel. Andrew is a former nurse and medical photographer who studied to be a shoemaker at Sydney's Ultimo TAFE. McDonald estimates there are just 12 people in Australia making bespoke shoes professionally.