Thu, Jul 28, 2011 - Page 14 News List

Sole sister

Liebe Hsing is a new footwear brand that highlights Taiwan’s traditional shoemaking industry

By Catherine Shu  /  Staff Reporter

Because the leather upper is hammered to the sole by hand, the join between the two parts is less uniform and sleek than one that has been pressed together by a machine. Traditional techniques, however, allow shoemakers to work with more delicate leathers like lambskin, add hand-tooled designs, and conduct thorough quality checks after each step of the manufacturing process to ensure that all components are securely fastened together.

Before agreeing to work with Lin, who at that time had little shoe design experience, Lu grilled his potential client for almost six hours about her business plans and goals.

“Shoemaking is not an easy business. It takes a lot of work, you need to understand footwear construction and if you make limited quantities, the production costs are high,” Lu said during a break at his workshop.

Lu usually works with two to four other shoemakers. On a recent day, two women carefully cut and joined leather pieces, making sure the line of stitching was just one millimeter away from the seam. Lu painstakingly hammered the body of a red lambskin high heel to its sole, steadying a heavy plastic last in his lap. On average, he says, each of the workshop’s shoemakers completes two pairs per day.

“Their skills are not in their machines, it is in their hands,” Lin says. “I want people to see the amount of detail these artists can put in each pair of shoes.”

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