Oh what to do with a dull pair of shoes! It’s a common problem; the impulsive buy and the resultant gnawing regret; the decision to return and the lack of time. “Was it really 30 days ago that I made that idiotic decision to purchase another pair of regulation-brown shoes?” you ask ruefully, knowing that the pair in question will languish in their box, a pang of sadness that it was not only money but also perfectly good shoes that go to waste.
eBay is always an option – it is after all the fastest growing clothing market on the internet – and some shoes, as long as they are new and boxed, can fetch more than 75% of their retail value making the option a cost-efficient one; cost-efficient… and ever so dull. Surely there has to be a fruitier option, a more exciting experiment, some wave of a magic wand that can turn boring shoes into wearable objet d’art worthy of admiration?
Of course there is! Enter Bert Kamps, a self-confessed shoe-fetishist from Amsterdam who educated himself in style by visits to high-end Italian retailers like Borelli, Isaia and Attolini. ‘Dullness’ is how he characterised the dress of those around him in the small Dutch village in which he once lived and he reacted admirably by seeking his own style with a particular desire to introduce, as he put it, “quality into his life”; tailored suits, jackets and trousers were the first step, the next was to plunder the Italian shoemakers; “Santoni, Borgioli, Bontoni etc”
It was at this point that Bert experienced the limitations of high-end ready to wear shoes;
“I found out that it wasn’t really possible to choose your own design and patina with “normal” priced high end shoes. I know it’s possible if you visit a good shoemaker and buy a pair of bespoke shoes but they are way too expensive for me. Also brands like Berluti (you can choose your own patina) are too expensive and don’t offer total freedom.”
What would most men do in such an unfortunate state of affairs? Save up? Give up? Possibly the former, probably the latter. Not for Bert, though. He pursued an entirely different course;
“First I started to strip an old pair of shoes of their patina and painted them with special leather dye. I mixed the basic colours (Red, green and blue) to achieve the colour I want and then use paint techniques to add accents to certain parts of the shoe (nose, heel, stitches etc).”
Cream and then wax is used to finish the process. Bert, so pleased with the outcome of his first shoes, experimented further and even decided to share his work with an artisanal Italian shoemaker whose resultant enthusiasm convinced Bert to take his talent and his idea to the next level.
“I want to sell unique shoes, unique by (my own) design and by the fact you can choose your own patina finish. The customer can personalise the shoes by choosing the colours he wants the shoes to have; in this he has total freedom.”
Aesthetically, the results are as beguiling as the work of Berluti; rich, gorgeously colour-deep and subtly ‘aged.’ The only limit to the beauty of the shoes is the imagination of the customer; imagine walking into a shoe store and asking to have a pair of shoes coloured like a Turner painting, or an antique walnut bureau, or a leaf of ivy or a Morello cherry. Such delectable and fantastical thoughts are actually capable of stimulating salivation.
No exact prices are available as of yet as Bert is still working on the samples but even though the shoes are hand-made using the finest leather, it is safe to assume that, unlike Berluti, the shoes will not be, as Bert puts it, “outrageously priced.”
Visit Bert’s blog at http://blog.patina-shoes.nl/