It used to be commonplace to learn shoemaking at domestic institutes and colleges. But when brands shifted to manufacturing overseas in cheap labor markets, shoemaking courses began to disappear. It got to the point that shoemaking was nearly a lost craft here in the West. However, what we are seeing today is a movement to bring shoemaking back. There are many factors driving this trend. We’ll get into these another time. But the end result is that there is a growing demand for training in the art of shoe making. Some shoemakers are stepping up to address this demand.
ICanMakeShoes is perhaps the most prominent school for teaching people how to make shoes from home. They have a huge presence online and are very active on social media, particularly Instagram. The founder, Amanda, has really made a push to develop and promote methods of shoemaking that don’t require expensive machinery. She recently wrote a book on shoemaking along these lines called “A Beginners Guide to Home Shoemaking”. Amanada is joined by multiple other teachers at ICanMakeShoes, all bringing relevant additions to their collective shoemaking expertise. They have workshops and courses and their website is an excellent resource for shoemakers both new and experienced, with various shoemaking items for sale.
The school we are most acquainted with is Art and Sole Academy. The founder, Jennifer Allison, is a graduate of the Ryerson University Fashion Design Program, and is a talented shoemaker. She has designed for Aldo and had designs featured by Vogue and worn by Cameron Diaz, and many more notable names. She works out of North Bay, Ontario, but also has an online presence. Her courses are geared to those looking to make shoes on a small scale, and without the huge and expensive machinery used by factories. If you are interested in learning the art of shoe making, we highly recommend getting in touch with Jennifer.
Another shoe making school we are in touch with is the Chicago School of Shoe Making. As per the name, they are in Chicago, Illinois. The shop is a diverse space catering to both experienced artisans and those just looking for a break from technology and a chance to work with their hands. If you take a look at their calendar, you’ll see they have a fairly full schedule of opportunities to learn shoe making. They also offer private instruction. The founder, Sara, originally got into shoemaking by hand in the 70’s, motivated by a drive for self sufficiency. This is still a core philosophy in the shoe school today.