Stelios Bountouris of Heraklion, Crete makes footwear and leather goods by hand, using methods and tools much the same to those used a hundred years ago. His shoes start at low price, with boots and custom work going much higher—and he has a waiting list of weeks.
In this age of mass production, shoes come cheap. Why the interest in bespoke, even in such a down economy? For many, it’s about quality and luxury. “Handmade luxury shoes are now my aim” says Stelios. “So to keep the profession alive, I strive to make the shoes fit that small luxury market and thus raise the quality and craftsmanship of every step in the process that I can.” Stelios uses all leather for his shoes’ uppers, linings and soles and stiffeners, he hand-sews the shoes, and he dyes his own leather. “A day in the workshop is hard work. I usually have a few different tasks that I aim to get done that day. Sometimes it can take all day hand- stitching the soles on.” He spends anywhere from 40-70 hours making each pair.