Having just finished the third iteration in their series of one-piece leather shoes, the duo at Schuh-Bertl recently sent over some pictures of their latest work. It’s called the One Piece Oxford with Footbed (“One Piece Oxford mit Fußbett”) and – as the name suggests – it features a custom leather insert for added comfort. Visually, it combines the best qualities of their Bavarian Oxford and their traditional Derby Shoe, creating a hybrid look on the upside of traditional. As always, they feature the Bertl standard Goodyear welt construction, hand molded leather shoelaces, and an immaculate attention to detail.
When working on a project, it pays to fully contemplate the durability of the materials. Think of a shoe for example. The more pieces of leather you use, the more opportunities you offer for Murphy’s Law to attack your stitches and seams. Conversely, making something out of one piece of leather ensures not only the stability of your product if you sew properly, but simple and clean lines to boot. Here are my two favorites:
1) Schuh-Bertl’s “Bavarian Oxford”
Not many know about Schuh-Bertl, but they run a very small workshop in Munich on Kohlstrasse where they produce a great variety of handmade shoes, leather goods, and the nicest pairs of lederhosen I’ve ever seen. (Oddly enough, they make a killer fresh-pressed orange juice too). Focusing on their footwear, Herr Bertl specializes in “rahmengenähten” stitching, in which the seam surrounding the bottom of the shoe is hidden on the inside. This method of construction is typical for a great number of their shoes and boots. As for Bavarian Oxford in particular, it is made from one piece of black leather that is painstakingly moulded by hand. Because leather conforms to your foot, this gives each pair a unique ability to truly adapt to its owner. Truly, they are the most comfortable pair of shoes I’ve ever worn.
2) Feit’s “Low Nero”
These shoes from FEIT also remain true to the same design principles. They are made holistically from one piece of italian vegetable tanned leather. The few stitches that are visible are not only utilitarian (the moccasin stitching to join the leather around the back of the shoe), but are minimal. In short, these are solid shoes that are built from start to finish by one master shoemaker. Everything is cut and sewn by hand to ensure the durability and wearability that one would expect from a handmade shoe. With Goodyear Welt construction, the soles are easily replaceable if they encounter too much wear – though there is no such thing in my opinion. A final feature of these shoes lies in the choice of materials. With an all natural leather sole, vegetable tanned buffalo leather sole inserts, natural cork cushions, and vachetta leather, these shoes are solidly built without chemicals, exploited labor, nor an egregious environmental footprint.