Boots Saved by Cobblers

by J.D May, 2019

Ann Demeulemeester Boots Saved by Cobblers

This pair of boots was a true test of our creativity and skill, but the component parts of a stellar repair were present: high quality boots that represent significant investment for the wearer and an open attitude from the customer about time and cost. She understood that we would be re-making her boots and ultimately decided to move forward with the project. We were up for the work, too; some projects give us a chance to get inside shoes and their makeup in new ways and we learn from that.

These are from a runway collection of the Belgian designer Ann Demeulemeester and had been the customer’s go-to style boots for several years in Chicago. By the time we saw them, the boots needed new soles, new zippers, and total reconstruction of the heels.

The unique design of the heels was the main challenge. Originally the tall dowel heel had been based in a single piece of material that bridged the dowel heel block to the rest of the heel block, an architectural wedge curving to meet a broad based oval leather sole. They really do seem to be made for walking.

Evidently a lot of walking. The boots felt stable overall, in spite of the wear to the heel blocks and resulting strain on all the other parts. The dowel heel is crucial, though. The last thing we want is to make a repair that looks amazing but comes apart in real time wear.

So we made it level and replaced the dowel, sacrificing a little overall height to achieve the balance. Then we rebuilt the bridge to the rest of the sole and the hardest part of the engineering was over.

We tell this story in such detail to show the range of possibilities open to you when you really care about something and are willing to invest in its longevity. Shoes don’t express emotions, but they connect with us in such powerful ways that customers often refer to their footwear with deep feeling that blurs the lines between trusted friend and inanimate object.

We thought this repair process was pretty cool. The boots are special in a design sense as well as their personal connection to the customer. By the time we had reconstructed the heels, replaced the leather soles, put a new zipper in each boot, done our spectacular finish work with Saphir products, the customer was beyond happy. She had thought they were a lost cause and was rewarded with her familiar boots remade. Just don’t give up on a pair of boots or shoes until you’ve consulted with your cobbler. You just might be surprised at the possibilities.