We first began making shoes in 1979. Even then, some people were beginning to want something different, something individual, something made by fellow human beings, from natural fibres, rather than the mass produced, impersonal footwear of the fashion industry. We wanted to make shoes that were comfortable, good for your feet, shoes that let your feet “breathe” and bend to the shape of the earth. We wanted to craft shoes in the traditional way, using hand tools and we wanted to do this in an environmentally friendly way. And, finally, living in a small island community in the beautiful and unspoilt islands of Scilly, we wanted to recreate the idea of being the village shoemaker, the craftsman who knew his customers and could respond to their individual needs. The result is the Island Shoemaker and, today, 40 years on, we are still making shoes, sometimes even for the same customers!
What we look for in a pair of shoes:
We aim for a pair of shoes into which your feet slide comfortably, being neither squeezed nor contorted – shoes you can wear all day without your feet aching or rubbing. We achieve this by using natural fibres – supple hides and natural plantation rubber crepe – which let your feet “breathe” and the air circulate. Natural materials bend and shape themselves to your feet, moving with you and using your feet as their mould. Layers of natural crepe and chrome split hide ( an especially soft leather) cushion your feet and, if you want more grip and even greater protection, we offer vibram non-slip soles as an option on nearly all of our footwear.Our shoes are also “foot-shaped.” This might sound obvious for footwear but many shoes are fashioned to slavishly follow latest styles providing impossibly contorted shapes into which feet are crammed. By contrast, we use Natureform lasts which means that our shoes are made to reflect a true foot shape. This leads to comfort and promotes the life of the shoe since reducing unnecessary stress on stitching.
Attention to Detail:
As a small, independent shoemaker,we take pride in offering natural footwear that lasts. We also listen to our customers and have over forty years experience of what makes the perfect shoe. We know where the potential weak spots are, what problems may occur and so have worked hard to find remedies and solutions .Our reinforced cross stitch is just one example. In most of our styles, the leather uppers are made of at least two sections. The manufacture of the uppers in a “front” and a “back” section gives the shoe greater flexibility but , at the same time, puts greater stress on the join between the two halves. We, therefore, both glue and stitch this join and further reinforce it with a decorative cross stitch, thereby providing the ultimate in durability.
Many hand-made shoes suffer in the rain (or even in damp grass!) Leather is a permeable material and so moisture quickly soaks through. We overcome this problem first of all by lining our footwear with pig skin. This, as it were, provides a coating over the foot, preventing it coming into direct contact with the wet leather. However, we also incorporate two layers of pure rubber solution. As the leather and lining is glued and stitched together this means that the lining is prevented from separating from the leather (as happens in cheaper shoes) and the glue provides a watertight membrane, protecting your feet from the damp.
We make our shoes to last! All parts are glued and stitched for double strength. Leathers are selected for their strength and flexibility. If you should wear through your natural crepe soles, we offer a resoling service to allow you to prolong the life of the uppers. We value the materials we use and intend that our customers should have the maximum wear possible out of their footwear.
One could not live on a beautiful island without being aware of the need to protect and preserve the environment. The unspoilt sandy beaches and transparent turquoise waters of Scilly, the lichen covered granite boulders that pepper the sweeps of pink thrift; scented honeysuckles tumbling over seas of golden gorse all make a strong case for nurturing the island where we live. Not surprisingly therefore, our shoes are made of natural fibres. The natural plantation crepe from which our soles are made comes from sustainable rubber plantations .We use wind power to provide electricity to our small workshop and most of the shoe making process is carried out by hand.
Our shoes are an investment. They are made to last. They are glued and stitched for durability. Even if your soles wear out, we can offer a re-sole. In buying footwear from Little Arthur, you are paying for high quality materials and craftsmanship. Our shoes are made for people who know what they want – comfort, durability and traditional good value at an affordable price. Take a look at our solid antique brass buckles – these are saddlery buckles intended for continuous use over many years.
Above all, we want you, the customer, to have a pair of shoes that fulfills your requirements. We offer a choice of colours, a range of different soles and an option to have your shoes, sandals or boots decorated with our pokerwork designs. If you would prefer to have your footwear crafted from more than one colour, please email us with your ideas and we will do our best to oblige. If you have one foot bigger than the other, again, email us with your requirements and we will quote you for a made-to-measure pair.