Designer Files: Colin Campbell

There are shoes that make me swoon. This beauty above is one of them; made from the stuff of shoe dreams. You just don't buy these off some rack. Toronto native, Colin Campbell is a bespoke shoemaker; the creator of the ultimate shoe dream. Colin attended the prestigious Cordwainers College, now part of the London College of Fashion. As if that wasn't impressive enough, he also studied at John Lobb Bootmakers, who make boots for members of the Royal family. After discovering Colin's website, I knew I had to interview him.

How did you become interested in shoe making?
I had an interest in high-grade women's shoes that evolved into a desire to make them. I just thought it was something that was inside me, something that needed to come out and something I could do well.


When did you make your first shoe?

You studied at the prestigious John Lobb Bootmakers. How did being surrounded by all that history and tradition influence you and your designs?
I think it gave me a greater appreciation of traditional stylings, both for men and women. I like to incorporate the traditional with the modern. Also, attention to detail was a key factor in all the work that was performed in that shop; the craftsmen and their skills...all of that rubs off on anyone who spends time there.

What kind of people are your customers?
All sorts. But, on the whole, I do seem to have more mature women coming to me; they tend to be less impressed with labels than younger women.

How do you go about making a pair of shoes for a client?
There are several stages in making a pair of shoes, but roughly speaking: the person's foot measurements are taken; a last (the form on which the shoe is made) is built according to those measurements; the chosen design is drawn on the last and a pattern is made; the pattern pieces are cut and stitched; insole boards are made based on the last's bottom pattern; a heel is made; the shoe is lasted and sole attached; the shoe is pulled off the last and heel attached; the sock, containing the company label, is put into the shoe; the shoe is now finished.


What are you inspired by?
Potentially anything I come in contact with. Sculpture, architecture, colour schemes, music, societal movements and trends.

Do you have a design philosophy?
Get the balance right. And, if I haven't seen it done before, it's probably worth exploring.

What traits do you feel all good shoemakers have in common?
An eye for detail and a sense of what a well balanced shoe looks like.

Who is your favourite pret-a-porte shoemaker(s)?
Christian Louboutin, Pierre Hardy, Manolo Blahnik, Giuseppi Zanotti (VICINI), Azzedine Alaia, Michel Perry.

What's your favourite material(s) to work with?
I enjoy working with unconventional shoe making materials, but glazed kid is my favourite.

What was the most difficult material you have worked with?
Latex Rubber.

What is your favourite period in terms of shoe design?
The 1950's and early 1960's.

Is the first thing you notice on a person their footwear?

Do you make your own shoes?
When I have time, which is rare.

Do you have a shoe muse?
Not really, but I am inspired by different women from time to time. Their attitude or look will give me ideas or help with a theme.

What are your plans for the future?
To continue developing my couture work here in Toronto, but I would like to develop a ready to wear line at some point and that is something I am starting to think about; possibly designing a line with friend who lives in Milan.


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