There is a new-ish shoemaker in the UK region but offering more than what you would expect from a traditional British maker. And their name is The Last Shoemaker. While the name would make you think it is just one person it is actually a collaboration of sorts between two gentlemen who are both shoemakers and specialize in their own categories of shoemaking. On top of that they are both based in different parts of the world (I shall explain more about that throughout subsequent posts). The Last Shoemaker is technically based out of York, where Payson Muller (an American living a few decades in the UK) handles the bespoke side of things (i.e. last and bespoke shoemaking) while his partner Allan Donnelly (a Scotsman) is based in Thailand and handles the more RTW/MTO side of the business aka the online shop (and manufacturing of the MTO shoes) but also dabbles in the bespoke side through international Trunk Shows. Traditionally speaking it would be a very unique and potentially strange set-up to be so far away from each other but in this digital world we live in where we can be so close yet at the same time so far, it seems to work for them as they can cover more of the world and oversee the various productions simultaneously.
This is where it gets interesting. While offering classic dress shoes that we all see as “the standard,” they also specialize in what is called ‘Minimalist Shoes’ and is where I believe the passion truly lays for The Last Shoemaker. At least if you talk to Payson Muller who is a true advocate of this style of footwear that in his mind is the way we should be wearing shoes. And after talking to him, you start to question what we know as ‘traditional shoes.’ So what is a Minimalist Shoe? Good question. It is a shoe that in layman’s terms fits our foot the way our foot actually is, as opposed to the way we –through history– have created the idea of footwear. Okay, so what does that mean? It means that the form of the last actually follows the shape of the foot, which ultimately has a zero drop (no height difference from heel to forefoot) and a very different shape from what most of us are used to seeing. If you actually look at your shoes from your own bird’s eye perspective and then you take them off and look at your feet, you will see two very different shapes. A classic dress shoe, in reality, is built for elegance, not with absolute contour for actual foot health. And we never think about this because we have been trained to assume the idea of a dress shoe. Believe me, I am on of the biggest advocates of them (i.e. what we think of as traditional dress shoes). But the Minimalist shoe should mirror the idea of being barefoot or how we were made to walk i.e. on the natural terrain of this planet. Therefore, as stated before, there is no heel, minimal arch support and a forefoot that is more of a c0ver for your toes and thus allows your feet to spread with each step. Like a dress version of a flip flop (not in terms of look but in the sense of open-foot stepping).
The reality is that we have been babied down with shoes to offer “cushion,” “support,” “comfort” etc but the reality is that while these things feel nice, they are not natural. We were created to walk on natural terrain. You ever seen those people that can walk miles barefoot on concrete? And wonder how in the heck can they do that? I do. My feet are super sensitive on the bottom. Super babified. I wish I had that ability. I have to wear slippers/slides in the house because I cannot do more than 5 mins on a hard surface. My feet have been too trained, which is a surprise considering I wore soccer cleats year-round for 13 years. Maybe that is the culprit! But I digress. The reality is dress shoes, no matter how much we love them, are not natural to how our body was created and its intended use. So, for the believers in ‘following nature,’ the Minimalist shoe is the answer. The only caution is don’t go running before you can walk. If you make the switch, take your time with it. Like anything, re-training might be in order.
So, this is where it comes down to mixing traditional values with Minimalist ideas. If you Google ‘Minimalist shoes’ you get a plethora of super ugly and cheap-looking shoes that are mainly catered to casual wear. The ones that you find that are ‘dress style’ are nothing short of appalling. And, while I won’t lie, that I would probably never wear a pair as it does not suit my style or preferences, I can say that the beauty of The Last Shoemakers’ shoes is that they are properly made and carry the form of function of a dress shoe yet with Minimalist values. And that is where they will be successful as they found a niche in a market that is clearly under-served. I am sure there are many individuals out there looking for this style of shoe to wear with their suits. But until today, there is nothing shy of horrendous options available for those that are looking for proper suit-wearing shoes. Of course, there were always bespoke options, as they too offer, but now you can find a dress shoe style, made properly (and fully handmade) for under $500.
This post was mainly about their Minimalist Shoes. I will be following up with more posts on The Last Shoemaker, including unboxing videos and more on their traditional standard dress shoes. The Last Shoemaker is also a new contributor to The Shoe Snob Blog and this would therefore be considered a sponsored post.
Learn more at: https://thelastshoemaker.com/