For over 10 years Jess has been designing and forming bespoke leather footwear. The expert cordwainer only just tied the knot himself back in November last year so he also knows a thing or two about planning a wedding.
Gender stereotypes would have you believe that men don’t care, nor do they want any part in planning their wedding. Perhaps in the past there may have been some truth to this but these days men are investing plenty of their time and energy in creating a wedding that is a true reflection of their own personal style and their love for the person they are marrying. On Jess’ wedding day each one of his 10 groomsmen stood beside him wearing a pair of bespoke leather shoes that he had handcrafted especially for them. A day that has always typically been about the bride is turning into a day a growing group of men want to be involved in.
For men especially, “it’s the one time you can be a little bit particular without feeling like a wanker,” Jess jokes.
While Jess has been working out of his Prahran studio for four years now, he has only just recently opened the doors to the public. The Wootten shop front is unlike any ordinary retail space and walking past the store windows evokes a sense on wonder and curiosity within you like you’ve just accidentally stumbled across a hidden gem. Set on Prahran’s colourful Grattan Street, the exposed red brick building embraces clean lines, minimal fuss and an abundance of natural light seeping through the buildings skylights. Each unique pair of shoes and a selection of leather handbags are artfully positioned on sleek timber shelves. The richness and warmth of the leather is a beautiful contrast to the fresh white walls that they rest in front of. I soon spot an old-fashioned brannock device and black and white photographs of Jess’s boot maker father on the wall and a wonderful sense of nostalgia washes over me. This is truly an artists den.
The shop itself is just a glimpse in to what is going on behind the scenes. Had Jess not led me out the back through to his workstation I would have been completely unsuspecting of the leather carnages and debris that lay to rest behind the adjoining doors.
Collectively the Wootten team possess over 55 years of leather working experience. All products are handmade on site using traditional cordwaining techniques and you certainly get a sense that something quite specialised is going on in here. We were amazed and incredibly impressed to learn that some shoes go through up to eighty hand-held processes.
Far apart from most fashion retail experiences, you play a crucial role in the creation of your bespoke leather footwear and have the ability to tailor the function of a shoe to meet your specific needs.
“We’re trying to be classic and well made but in some ways slightly different and unique. The uniqueness may not be that it looks different, it may just be the experience you have or the fact that you’ve altered it to be exactly what you want,” Jess explains.
With so much emphasis usually placed on bridal fashion and what the women are wearing we are thrilled to see men taking a stance on style and quality and choosing bespoke leather shoes for their wedding day. What a wonderful gift idea for your best man or groomsmen or the perfect indulgence when deciding on an anniversary keepsake.
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