Carréducker are award-winning handsewn shoemakers with a bespoke showroom, workshop and training school in Shoreditch, London.
The company grew from the serendipitous meeting of two people passionate about the centuries-old craft of handsewn shoemaking, Deborah Carré and James Ducker.
Deborah and James both completed traditional apprenticeships as hand sewn shoemakers (Deborah as a Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust scholar and James as a John Lobb apprentice).
After several years following separate paths, they joined forces in 2004 to found Carréducker, based at Cockpit Arts in Bloomsbury, London. Keen to attract a new bespoke customer, they set about organising their own Bespoke Club events to showcase their work, inviting like-minded businesses to co-host with them including Tom Davies eyewear, TomTom Cigars and Gentlemen’s Tonic.
CHAMPIONING THE HANDSEWN CRAFT
They are guardians of handsewn shoe making; bringing the traditional craft to a modern customer via their Bespoke Handsewn & Bespoke Manufactured Shoe Service and passing on their expertise, techniques and skill through their Shoe & Leather School in Shoreditch. They also support specialist suppliers through their online shop by selling tools, leather and materials.
Over the years, the pair have showcased hand sewn shoemaking at numerous events:
- During the London Olympics
- Alongside other QEST scholars at St. James’ and Hampton Court Palaces and the Victoria & Albert Museum
- At the Crafts Council’s Origin and Added Value exhibitions
- As part of Vicheron Constantin’s Crafted: Makers of Excellence
- During London Craft Week at the Royal Academy and Somerset House
- In the window of Gieves & Hawkes No.1 Savile Row
Creating events and demonstrating the shoemaking craft was just the start and today their work is part of the permanent exhibition at the Design Museum London.
As shoemakers, their enthusiasm for British-made extends beyond bespoke and they work with a number of specialist British footwear manufacturers to create limited edition boots.
Aware of footwear’s environmental impact, theirs is a sustainable approach.
Providing detailed information about fit on the website and making to order reduces the number of returns and the boots are designed to be durable and repairable, made from suede, Nubuck and natural, veg. tanned leathers (better for feet and the environment). All of the leather is a byproduct of the meat and dairy industry.
The first Carreducker London design was the Half-Cut shoe, developed with R.E.Tricker in Northampton and sold through Susannah Hall Tailors in Clerkenwell.
Now, after a series of successful Kickstarter campaigns Carréducker London boots encompasses British-made, unisex shoes and boots made in limited runs throughout the year by Jadd Shoes in Suffolk and William Lennon in Derbyshire.
BESPOKE SHOE SERVICE
Carreducker create beautiful bespoke shoes and boots for private individuals. Rather than a house-style, theirs is an eclectic, magpie-approach designing shoes to suit a client’s personal style and aesthetic.
Through the UK’s luxury industry body, Walpole, Carréducker were introduced to Mark Henderson, then Chairman of Gieves & Hawkes. Gieves’ flagship at No.1 Savile Row was being transformed into a gentlemen’s club and Carréducker had the great fortune to be invited to create a workshop on the shop floor; a truly unique opportunity to showcase the craft to potential customers.
They continue to have a showcase at Gieves & Hawkes, but now also have their own bespoke room at Chocolate Studios, where they offer a complete bespoke footwear wardrobe from bespoke manufactured sneakers to bespoke handsewn dress shoes.
Social media opened up their bespoke shoemaking to a global audience and soon customers were combining London stopovers with a trip to their shoemaker.
For those unable to travel, Carréducker now offer a virtual measurement and fitting service using their own, specially designed kit, ‘how to measure’ film and Zoom support to walk customers through the experience.
PASSING ON THEIR SKILLS
As well as creating beautiful bespoke shoes, Carréducker has also established itself at the forefront of handsewn shoe making training, teaching hundreds of students from around the world for nearly 20 years.
Responding to a demand for people keen to learn shoe making and to work with their hands, they established their stand-alone Shoe & Leather School in London. It offers beginners a space to learn part or all of the handsewn shoe making process and shoemakers the opportunity to top up their skills with masterclasses in specific techniques, like Norwegian welting or to learn saddle stitch techniques. The skills and techniques of specialist bespoke footwear pattern making are taught by Fiona Campbell at her studio in SW London and closing will be added to the schedule in spring 2022 taught in North London.
Meanwhile shoemakers worldwide can access the same high standards of teaching via online training films and Zoom support and find all the tools and materials they need for shoe making in the Supplies Shop.
DIGITAL SHOEMAKERS CONFERENCE
In 2021, during the height of the pandemic, Carreducker held the first ever Digital Independent Shoemakers Conference
They curated a mix of pre-recorded films, live Zoom interviews and panel discussions along with open forum meet-ups for delegates featuring speakers from Seoul to Seattle and attracting over 230 delegates.
The online conference will take place in May each year, including:
- Highlights from the UK Independent Shoemakers Conference (February)
- Highlights from the Super Trunk Show organised by shoegazingblog and theshoesnobblog
- Philosophers, Revolutionaries and Anarchists – interviews with shoemaking legends
- Workshops Around the World – building a global community of independent shoemakers and shoemaking enthusiasts
- Resources – information about suppliers, training, materials and organisations across the glove
Balvenie Masters of Craft Award for Leather, 2011