Carréducker are award-winning bespoke shoemakers with premises in the historic districts of Clerkenwell and Hoxton in London.
The company grew from the serendipitous meeting of two people passionate about becoming handsewn shoemakers, 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 to found Carréducker.
Keen to attract new customers, 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.
Creating events and demonstrating the shoe making craft was just the start. Over the years, the pair have showcased hand sewn shoemaking at numerous events – during the Olympics; alongside other QEST scholars at St. James’ and Hampton Court Palaces; at the Crafts Council’s Origin show and Added Value exhibition; at Vicheron Constantin’s Crafted: Makers of Excellence and London Craft Week – culminating in an invitation to become part of the permanent exhibition at the Design Museum London.
As shoemakers, their enthusiasm for British-made extends beyond bespoke. They work with a number of British, artisanal footwear manufacturers to create limited edition, ready to wear shoes and boots. The first, the signature Carréducker Half-cut shoe, was developed with R.E.Tricker in Northampton and sold through Susannah Hall Tailors in Clerkenwell. Now, after a series of successful Kickstarter campaigns. Carréducker’s must-have shoe and boot styles include a slipper, slip-on, desert boot and work boot. The unisex styles are available in UK sizes 3 – 13 and sold online.
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. Despite many changes at No.1 and new owners, Carréducker continues to deliver the bespoke shoe service there.
Social media, a weekly blog and e-commerce website has opened up handsewn shoe making to a global audience and many customers travelling through London on business use the opportunity to commission British bespoke. (The good thing about bespoke shoes is that once the fit is right on the first pair, subsequent pairs can be ordered over the telephone or by email). Alongside their bespoke shoe service at Gieves & Hawkes, Carréducker now also offers a bespoke service at James Purdey & Son, South Audley Street and has opened new premises in Shoreditch, alongside its permanent workshop at Cockpit Arts in historic Clerkenwell.
As well as creating beautiful bespoke shoes, Carréducker has also established itself at the forefront of handsewn shoe making training. Deborah and James have been teaching shoe making since 2006, taking up the mantle from the world-renowned Cordwainers College. Responding to a growing interest from people keen to make with their hands, they have opened a stand-alone school space where students can learn part or all of the handsewn shoe making process, footwear pattern making and sewing shoe uppers; top up their skills with masterclasses in specific techniques like Norwegian welting; or learn saddle stitch techniques. Meanwhile shoemakers worldwide can find all the tools and materials they need for shoe making on Carréducker’s online shop.
Carréducker have been recognised as ambassadors of the handsewn shoe making craft. They were awarded the Balvenie Masters of Craft Award for Leather in 2011; the Marsh Heritage Crafts ‘Made in Britain’ Award in 2017, for their work promoting British-made shoes and boots; and the QEST Award for Excellence in 2018 for bringing handsewn shoe making to a global audience and the high quality of craft training that they are giving the next generation of makers.
You can read more about them and other inspiring craftsmen and women in two new publications: Forge & Carve by Canopy Press and A Celebration of British Craftsmanship by QEST.