Community of shoemakers and leather artisans
Just off Bethnal Green Road, down a narrow alley cluttered with pre-loved office furniture, an odour comes from one of the arches, smelling like what I imagine Ron Burgundy's apartment does.
Although I can't quite figure out if the smell is a mix of the office furniture and the leather, or if it is the Santal perfume from Le Labo; I am already seduced.
Thomas, founder of The Parachute collective, welcomes me in to his studio placed under a railway arch. I am instantly very impressed with everything he tells me about the process of getting a studio like this up and running.
6-months course in shoe-making,
I sold all my music equipment to start the Parachute Collective."
I ask him which one is his favourite pair of shoes, only to get the answer: "Every pair I make. For instance, I'm very happy with my new collection".
Surprisingly to me, he doesn't find it hard to part with the shoes when he's done with them: "It's nice to release things and let go after you put all that work into them", he says, "it's good to practice impermanency".
Two years ago, Thomas was dedicating all his time to music, but after a six month's shoe making course, he sold all his music equipent and bought everything he needed to become a professional leather artisan.
The shoes in his showroom look like small pieces of artwork, and one can tell how much effort he puts into the details.
He works for the most part with Italian leather, but also does hand-marbling on vegan leather. In average, he spends three days on a pair of shoes, with a process of about 200 steps.
With the work being so time-consuming, and the equipment so big and expensive, the collective studio is ideal. It consists of two floors, with the top floor serving as a showroom, also equipped with the machines needed to begin a pair of hand-made shoes. The ground floor has separate studio spaces available for artisans to let.
The Parachute Collective offers courses in shoe-making, so if you would like to learn how to make your dream shoe, go to www.theparachutecollective.co.uk