In Conversation with Ivan Crivellaro (Bespoke Shoemaker)

IvanC_BrogueIn our effort to cultivate an appreciation for fine craftsmanship, particulary in the area of leather, we have embarked on a journey to engage craftsmen to share with us their passion, thoughts and of course, their work!  We have aptly named this new bog segment in our Journal as In Conversation. And we hope you will enjoy it. 

For our inaugural post, we have the pleasure to interview Mr. Ivan Crivellaro - a bespoke shoemaker from Italy. This 31 year-old self-taught shoemaker has been creating handmade shoes for the last 7 years. Ivan has chosen the traditional craft of shoemaking because it allows him to express himself by bringing fantasy to reality.   See how his work of art more than makes up for that little language barrier we have here.

Find out more as Ivan shares with us his thoughts behind this beautiful, time-honored art of shoemaking.

How did you get started in shoemaking?

Ivan: The production of footwear and born to one of my personal dissatisfaction, I was always brought for art in general from music to painting etc. What made me decide to do this job, first as a passion and then to work was that I could not find shoes that I liked and I decided to carry them out alone.

Do you come from a family of shoemakers?

Ivan: I do not come from a family of cobblers but I discovered that my uncle and 'CAT (class) in Rome that produced handmade shoes, a huge surprise, pity that when I met him he had sold the brand and did not work + and could not follow in my training.

How are your shoes constructed and what are the advantages? 

Ivan: My shoes come in entirely handmade crafts and seeds. handmade, Goodyear and Norwegian craft seeds Blake and also Goodyear. The advantages are that the shoes made entirely crafted by hand has a lot more substance, there is at first sight, and is' more' convenient and better built, it takes about a month to realize it because I respect all the time of implementation.

A good pair of shoes starts with the finest materials. What kind of leather do you like to work with?

Ivan: I love working the breech (rear) of a horse and skin so strong that endures over time and that I love. In fact, about 3 ½ years ago I designed a shoe with breech cavallomessa (mass horse) marinated in wine and aglianico (black grape) and created a masterpiece. Then use the leather, crocodile if the customer wants it short, even the many skins of camels. And cordovan. Of course it all depends on customer requirements, all skins that are used to dye natural tanned except cordovan that already 'and' color and I do not like this fact because I do not enjoy this dye in the skin. I forgot the leather and use J.Redenbach (known for their soles).

IvanC_Brogue 2-tone 

OB: How long do you take to complete a pair of shoes?

Ivan: As I said for a custom shoe I impego (take) about 1 month and a half months. Over all time of construction.

1. Think it takes me a week to dye your shoes cause the skin to look to rest and to stabilize the moisture that there in the skin and out.

2. Use 2 days to polish your shoes. Use cristal champagne for polishing.

3. An hour the first day of preparation for polishing and the second term. 

IvanC_Shine Shine!

OB: What is the price range we are looking at for your bespoke/customisation services? 

Ivan: Prices are 450 to 750 euro for semi-handmade shoes and 800 to 12,000 euro in various custom made entirely by hand.

What is your design philosophy?

Ivan: Actually to design for me and simple ideas come to me when I'm happy in the shower or when I am relaxed. I observe much what happens and then rework them, hence giving birth to my shoes.

What makes a good pair of shoes?

Ivan: What makes good shoes are a number of things, the form must be comfortable and at the same time on appeal, the construction of the shoe, I like to make it look more delicate shoe never heavy with large soles that leave much of the form. Important materials and then the design that gives the shoe.

OB: You seem to have a love for decorating soles. They are so intricate that it looks more like a work of art than a pair of shoe! Tell us more.

Ivan: In fact, as you say when I realize I really think the soles to create a framework, the shoe and my canvas upper which is the sole on these 2 things I can express, but especially the desire to leave, surprising the customer and see a beautiful smile on her face, that 's what makes me happy.

IvanC_Salvador Salvador Dali

OB: Who is your favorite shoemaker/artist?

Ivan: My favorite shoemaker! :))))) OLGA Berluti, which unfortunately has sold the brand, then there Andy Warhol caravaggio, and the whole world whatever I can make an input to achieve.

What do you think makes you stand out from other shoemakers?

Ivan: I have utmost respect for alri (other) shoemakers, but I do not like their behavior with envy, I believe that eventually everyone makes his product, and is the customer to choose what' he likes. I love being in the company to confront others see if they have done something good or beautiful. Envy too bad!

Which is your most satisfied pair of shoes and why?

Ivan: My favorite shoes are so many but if I choose, the one with the geisha (image below), that realized with the Aglianico wine and the one with the Aston Martin and then the one with the paintings of Salvador Dali that I appreciate so much.

IvanC_Geisha Geisha   IvanC_AstonMartin Aston Martin

OB: So far, what is the best compliment you have received from your customer?

Ivan: The best compliment I do not know. But when I see their amazement I get excited and do not mind so much the compliment, but to observe the reaction of the customer. I remember a compliment if you so 'and we call it' when a customer said “Ivan thanks. I finally got my shoe, my shoe!” With these words made me realize that I had played a full spirit of the person. That satisfaction. 

What is the most unforgettable request you ever receive from a customer?

Ivan: To be honest I have not requested havoto unforgettable, because 'they tell me Ivan you do' cause I can not choose because all the shoes are unique and beautiful that I can not decide.

Are there any shoemaking requests that you will NEVER accept from a customer?

Ivan: To be honest, women's shoes 'cause they make you lose your head and in my opinion the world dellascarpa (of the shoe) women and an industrial because they want everything immediately. In fact, women's riding boots realizable only say that in general want the best of the shoe but would like to spend less, I tell them: take it or leave it!

What is your advice to a customer who is thinking of making a pair of bespoke shoes?

Ivan: The board and ask all the shoes you want to accomplish, ask for clarification and to be present the details, as I do that I do understand what the customer going to buy.

Where do you think the men's shoe industry is heading as a whole?

Ivan: The footwear company is gearing up to market demands, create nice things but not of quality.

Some shoemakers are creating their own line of ready-to-wear (RTW) shoes. What are your thoughts?

Ivan: I do not like this but it also serves as the second line, perhaps he needs to pocket more 'money, but the quality' and ricercateza (refinement) certainly will come down. I love the quality I'm out to create pieces unici.purtroppo (unique).

What do you think can be done to preserve the traditional craft of shoemaking and to encourage the young to take up the craft?

Ivan: To preserve the crafts not easy because boys do not want to work, do not have suction and are deluded by this false and barren world, then we also must be known and that the road long and then leave the idea. But above all we want to make money easily without working. I think that whoever wants to put you in this world alone without the need to say or do. Who wants to do it like me.


If you are not a shoemaker, what would you rather be?

Ivan: I would like to be a musician, a tattoo artist, an architect in short, a job that allows me to express what I have to say, but I also create things piacerbbe (like) eg. helping others.

Any plans for ready-to-wear (RTW) shoes for customers in Asia? 

Ivan: Most likely there will be a shop in Singapore that will have the exclusive but my shoes are always limited and exclusive. (Gentlemen in Singapore. Keep a lookout)!

Lastly, what advice do you have for someone who aspires to be a shoemaker?

Ivan: My advice for those who want to be a shoemaker like me cherealizzo (I make) throughout the shoe, model, dye, I make dyes from natural products that I paint ...... BIOGNA be stubborn and SOILS AND SHOULD NOT EVER GIVE UP. (OB: In short, Never Give Up!)

-End of interview-


1) (Kelvin Cheong)

2) (Ivan Crivellaro)


Thank you, it's great to hear from others stiuydng shoemaking as it's becoming so rare. I think the steps involved in patternmaking can change around a bit, I'd like to try drawing design lines straight onto a taped up last and making a standard from that. I haven't tested out making clothing in a shoemaking way yet, I should stop being lazy! I was thinking I would get a 3d object, tape it up and make a pattern from that to add on to a clothing pattern. It might turn out a bit lady gaga, or it might work. Otherwise taping up a section of a mannequin could produce interesting results too. Thanks again for your comment!Anna

Thanks for writing in, Anna. I hope the article will create more interest in the art of shoemaking. I do not profess to be an expert but I strangely, the whole thing about drawing lines on taped up last reminds me of Japanese shoemaker, Chihiro Yamaguchi from Guild of Crafts. Time for some research on this great craftsman! Keep your feedback coming!

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