“Craftsmanship shows dedication. When it comes to shoemaking, there are a lot more intricate steps required than most people think.”
Keith’s love affair with shoes started at a really young age. The very first pair of shoes that he wanted was a pair of Reebok air pumps in 1989. It was not only its cool design that drew him to it, but also its comfort that made him fall in love with it.
“I have pretty wide feet, which always puts me in an awkward situation where I have to buy shoes 1 or 2 sizes bigger to accommodate, but it always ends up too long for my feet length,” Keith said, “gradually I realize that standard sizes can’t fit all, and that is when bespoke shoes come into the picture.”
Driven by his obsession with details and everything handmade, in 2012, Keith made a bold move to leave his corporate career as a banker to pursue his lifelong passion for handmade bespoke shoes. What initially started as a personal journey in search for quality shoes has now transformed into a full pursuit of shoe making.
“As a shoe maker, you can decide what goes into it at each stage and finally, I could make a pair of shoes that I truly believe in. Best of all, I get to make it with my own hands. This is definitely my calling.” Keith smiled.
When he first started, there was limited access to in-depth knowledge and proper shoe making mentorship in Singapore, so Keith decided to travel to workshops available in different countries to learn the best each had to offer.
Through the years, he relentlessly learnt various shoemaking skills starting from designing patterns, understanding leather to finally constructing a pair of shoes. Currently Keith just finished his apprentice shoemaker training under luxury bespoke shoemaking masters in Florence, Italy.
“There are in fact easily 200 intricate steps involved in making a pair of high quality shoes,” Keith said, “but most times people don’t see it.” At his workstation in Florence, Keith will sometimes spend a whole day replicating the same step over and over again to make sure it is executed perfectly. Other times, he will spend time creating intended imperfection to make a unique pair of shoes he can call his own.
Keith strongly believes that one’s life is vastly enriched by experiences, and he is more than happy to have the opportunity to share his experiences with shoe enthusiasts back home. “I have a grand plan to set up an atelier in Singapore where I can teach and make shoes of Italian quality, of French precision for beauty and with an oriental twist.” Keith said, with a sparkle in his eye.
Keith is attracted to the beauty found in the art of shoemaking. It motivates him to continuously seek for perfection and gives him the freedom to express himself. “Nowadays few things actually show strong dedication,” he added, “but craftsmanship is certainly one of them.”
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