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Winter 2001

" Shoes Made Simple "



Shoes Made Simple

If the turn of the nineteenth century was the beginning of the designer one-of-a-kind shoe, the turn of the twentieth century would mark the advent of the do-it-yourself shoe.

Perhaps it is a reaction against the parallel trend towards labels and logos. The customization of footwear and fashion is much more entailed than ever before. We did some research to find out where you can learn to make custom shoes of your own.

First we found Alan Zerobnick, Leatherworker and Shoemaker of Port Townsend, Washington. Alan runs one of the few Shoemaker Schools in the United States and makes custom shoes for a select group of clients. He is a consultant for several shoe manufacturers, and is even working on a proprietary system of computer hardware and software designed to revolutionize the custom shoemaking industry.

His company Digitoe, has developed a non-contact foot scanner that is programmed to measure the foot and design a custom last, which then can be read by a computer.

Once people's feet have been measured and their last details are on file, they could communicate with Digitoe directly by Internet or telephone without having to return to a retail-fitting center, thereby making Mass Customization a reality.

Alan teaches nearly five intense three day workshops annually at this Tenderfoot ShoeSchool in Port Townsend. At his school base includes not only novice artisans but company executives and designers, or simply anyone interested. As for the requirements of the students, nothing less than no prior experience and a positive attitude is needed. In the workshop, students see how everything is done and actually get to make a pair of shoes for their own.

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