bespoke slippers

The Artistry of the Hand Laster

25th April 2018

The Artistry of the Hand Laster

Slippers By Hand

In this modern world of machine manufacturing, it’s comforting to know that handmade, bespoke shoes are having a bit of a renaissance. And it’s not just bespoke shoes that are trending; bespoke ladies slippers and bespoke mens slippers are the latest must-have luxury item on everyone’s wish-list.

In the case of shoemaking, the true meaning of the word “bespoke” is where the “last” is made for the customer, before the shoes are made. At Bowhill & Elliott we use our traditional range of 2 lasts that date back to the 1960s. However, it is possible for us to make them using your own individual lasts, if they are provided to us.

At Bowhill & Elliot, we hand last every one of our bespoke shoes and slippers. Now unless you’re au fait with the story of The Elves and The Shoemaker, you’d be forgiven for not knowing what a shoemakers’ last is. We like to think of it as Michelangelo’s David; that is, the embodiment of the perfect form. For us, this form is in the shape of a foot. Our task is to pull, tease and stretch the fine leather, velvet or linen over this perfect form, finding the perfect fit.

Shoemakers With Heart and Sole.

It is a very tactile art form, shoemaking; rather like sculpting. Each material has its own unique quality. And whether we’re fashioning our famous Street Slippers, our mens velvet slippers or our ladies linen slippers, it is in the domain of hand lasting where we discover the materials true nature. We literally feel our way around the last, and work to bring out the character in every shoe or slipper we make. This can only be done by hand, eye and careful thought. Yes, in this modern world of mass manufacturing, it’s good to know some things can only be done by hand. And that is the artistry in hand lasting.

Last, But Not Least – Monogrammed

I’d like to imagine Michelangelo had a pair of favourite old slippers (maybe monogrammed, in velvet) he could slip on at the end of hard days toil in the studio, before heading off to the Medici’s to toast his latest masterpiece. Rest assured, similar celebrations occur amongst the Hand Lasters of Bowhill & Elliott, each time we create our latest masterpiece. Perhaps you’d like to add a pair of these to your collection one of these days?


If you’re interested in how we craft each pair, keep an eye on our #FromtheFactoryFriday series or stories coming up on Instagram.



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