Artisan shoemaker Kevin Rowley is busy bringing about a one man revolution in baby shoes. His company, The Little Shoemaker, is small and British, making beautiful handmade children’s shoes from his workshops in London and Brighton.
Kevin trained in both the footwear industry and then as an artist. It was after studying Art in Brighton and moving to London to take a place on a Fine Art MA course that he decided to re-enter the shoe industry to support his studies and found a small shop in Marylebone intending to work part-time.
However, the experiment reignited his passion for shoes and fifteen years he’s still there, splitting his time between shoemaking and working as an artist and lecturer in fine art. His children’s shoes, under the moniker ‘The Little Shoemaker’ are inspired by Kevin’s sense of a lack of substance in a lot of the designer brand shoes on the market.
He says, “Now that I have a daughter, I find myself in the market for children’s attire. I’ve bought several different pairs of ‘designer brand’ shoes (some of them British), and most of them are quite expensive. However, I’ve started to feel a little uncomfortable that these shoes that I sometimes pay up to £90 for, are being produced for as little as £2 in some far away country on a production line. I don’t even know anything about the person who’s made them. It’s become apparent to me that most shops have realized that if you’re in the store buying clothes, then you’re probably going to buy shoes to go with them. The problem for me here is that they’re simply add-ons, there’s no substance to them in my opinion.
I also feel a little uncomfortable that a lot of these products are trading on a ‘British’ theme, yet are using products put together on the other side of the world, and simply increasing the price based on the logo inside the shoe.”
The Little Shoemaker’s shoes on the other hand, work on a completely different, artisan level. Every Little Shoemaker shoe is hand-stitched, cut and moulded by Kevin and only by Kevin. The shoes have not been anywhere near a factory, a production line, or even another pair of hands.
The result is a unique pair of shoes, with every pair different from the next pair. If you look close, you can see how each stitch is created not by a machine, but by the hands of an artisan. Every part of the shoe shouts out ‘Hand Made’. There’s nothing synthetic involved in the process, nor in the materials.
The design of the baby shoes also reflect Kevin’s craft ethic with the leather and suede materials and retro styles for the shoes and the boots. The shoes for babies and toddlers are charming yet quirky, with a wonderful sense of vintage, timeless style brought up to date with their metallic finishes and contemporary cuts.
Kevin says, “I’ve looked at what shoe’s are on the market these days, and I’ve been quite disappointed with the styles and quality of the products around. Especially annoying, is how ‘over the top’ children’s shoes are. It’s almost impossible to source a child’s shoe that doesn’t have something cheesy stitched onto it. From cartoon characters, to mermaids, to stars and diamonds etc. And don’t even get me started on those flashing things I see in children’s heels. My shoes are contemporary in their ‘design’ yet ‘vintage’ in their style.”
These baby shoes are unique in every way, a real heirloom whose stitches can be traced one by one. Like something out of a thoroughly modern fairytale, these are pieces to wear and to treasure.