Dear Shaded Viewers and Diane,
If when you think of bespoke footwear in London you picture a highbrow set of monk strap or wingtips, paired with striped socks and knee buckles as did Brummell and his peers, it’s time perhaps to update your standards. Based far east from the Savile Row clique, in the neighbourhood of Hackney, James Kearns sews his sneakers entirely by hand, having learned his craft from YouTube, the classical way. One of a kind unisex styles, with artfully rusted eyelets, nail marks, matching strings and purposely sourced imperfect leathers, each shoe takes an average of 30-32 hours to complete. Most of his materials come from Italy – James mentions in particular a 1896 tannery in Ischia –, which may be a reason why he’s back at Origin for the second year in a row. Of the models on display, he shows me one inspired by a snowboard boot, and a slip-on made out of a wolffish. Working on site at his booth in Vicenza, at the end of each day James collects the offcuts and scraps from the floor to make jewellery and buttons, soon to be casted in silver or bronze.