September 27, 2017

A Closer Look: The Shoe Surgeon’s Custom Python Leather New Balance 574 Sport

Tasked with creating the most decadent version of New Balance‘s 574 Sport imaginable as part of our One Step Ahead series, The Shoe Surgeon came through with a truly stunning, rare-breed custom. Read on as master slicer dicer Dominic Chambrone dissects his latest creation.

These are phenomenal, Dom! Why did you choose python leather?
Exotic materials, in my opinion, indicate instant quality. I’ve made many different shoes with all sorts of different leathers – really high-grade stuff – but it can be hard for someone to justify the price of a custom shoe in their mind if there’s not something exotic about the materials.

What other materials did you use?
The inner lining is made from black Lycra-based leather to allow for stretch. There is also a layer of reflective white 3M behind the N – a classic New Balance trademark.

How long did it take for you to knock them out?
Once I came up with the concept, they took a few days to put together. Whenever I make a shoe, I need to deconstruct the original and create a pattern for the upper. I will make one shoe and fine-tune it until the shape is perfect. Developing a proper last is crucial for the shape to be right. That’s my main focus – making sure the shape is on point. If I have to develop a last from scratch, it can take anywhere from a couple days to a week to perfect. Once I was satisfied with the shape I went on the hunt for the right materials – I had to source the stretch leather specially.

What goes into making the last?
Last making is just a whole art within itself. You can take an existing last and then you build it up and it’s kind of like sculpturing in that way. The last is the three-dimensional shape based off your foot size and the dimension of the shape of the shoe. So, that’s usually what takes the most amount of time.

Do you feel like that’s part of the shoemaking process that people tend to overlook?
Yeah, I think it’s something that the normal consumer doesn’t understand. I mean it took me a long time to understand it as well. I think it’s one of the selling points of a high-quality bespoke recreation. In my classes, I am able to show that everything starts with the last and truly show how much work actually goes into the making of a shoe. I taught a class with a brand and it taught them a new level of appreciation for their products, even those made overseas, because it showed that it still takes a lot of work to produce something – no matter where it’s made.

Check out our full ‘One Step Ahead‘ interview with The Shoe Surgeon here.

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