FK chats to David of handmade bespoke footwear and leather label Brothers Footwear. Help bring the beautiful art of local shoe making back by buying a pair directly from the maker this weekend at our Brisbane SS14 markets.
Tell us about your label Brothers Footwear and what the concept is behind it?
My name is David Kelly; I am a Bespoke Shoemaker trained by my father before me. The ethos behind Brothers Footwear is to make Australian, handmade footwear and leather products available to the everyman (and the everywoman). We believe that if we can design our products deftly enough and manufacture them efficiently enough that anybody could access them.
What inspired you to start your own label?
In 2010 my son was born and blew my heart to pieces. As I slowly cleaned up the debris I designed and made him these super cute, little, desert boots which he went on to kick rocks, chase pigeons, and jump in puddles in; since then I have had to make him many more pairs. However, I realised that he is the only little boy I know with handmade shoes; nobody else knows who made their shoes. That is when I started Brothers Footwear to make handmade shoes for everybody.
What do you love about working with leather and what keeps you creatively motivated?
Perhaps it is because I grew up hanging around the studio; but the smell of leather always smells like home. I love designing and making shoes because I feel that they are this perfect balance between aesthetic and functional design. Shoes are everywhere! Sometimes it feels inappropriate how often/long I look at strangers’ feet. Though that is where I get inspiration from seeing how people use shoes; what works, what doesn’t. Also going to the leather shop and seeing ‘that hide’, seeing it catch the light, feeling it yield to my hands.
What is your creative workspace like, and what inspires you about your surroundings?
Though I dream of sunlight streaming through the climbing rose boarding my casement windows and bouncing of the hardwood floor (…ah dreams) my studio at this present time is quite functional. It is filled with archaic machines, bins of lasts, piles of leather, and a circle of stools. My bookcase bursting with catalogues, magazines, and passé shoe books and the drawings and posters littering my workbench along with the perpetual chatter of my apprentices and students amount to an immense amount of inspiration (even without the hardwood flooring).
What challenges have you faced starting your own label, and what are some things you love about it?
When I am not making Brothers shoes I teach shoemaking. The largest hurdle I have had to overcome is getting enough time to dedicate to the work that I love. There is nothing quite as rewarding as meeting a client who is wearing a pair of my shoes, and as I look down at their feet (appropriately of course) I see that they are worn, used, and loved. Not much elates me as much as when people inform me that although their Brothers shoes aren’t as presentable as they were in the beginning they can’t stop wearing them because they are so comfortable. I love making shoes!
What new projects are you working on and where would you like to see Brothers Footwear in the future?
At the moment we only have one shoe design for women; we are currently working on coming up with more variety for the better looking half of the population. Every shoe that we make is made from start to finish from myself and my apprentice. We are currently looking for more apprentices. We want to make shoemaking a viable industry. We want to bring back the local shoemaker.