A Parisian Boot-Maker
To be tailor-made intrinsically goes hand in hand with an ethical dimension, and this seems to be embodied in Eric Lomain’s work: a modest person, he says he does not have the desire to “save” the people he makes shoes for, but he admits that some of them are deeply grateful, telling him that “they could not walk without [him]”. This is an art of giving meaning to the shoes, an object that has unwillingly become an emblem of superficiality.
At the Lomains, traditional boot-making techniques are transmitted from father to son; Eric is the third generation of boot-makers and he perpetuates the legacy in his tiny atelier located in the 12th arrondissement of Paris.
After defining what the client expects, it will take about fifteen hours to give birth to a unique pair of shoes, custom-made at the boot-maker’s studio. Under the auspices of the master, a team composed of seven people bustles about a thoroughly elaborated ritual: manufacturing plan, shoe tree modelling, pattern making, cutting, pricking, assembling, fitting, and sole making.
Even if he has been a specialist of orthopedic shoes since his grandfather’s decisive encounter with a doctor in the 1950s, Eric Lomain likes to inject a hint of creativity into universe of medical shoes. He claims he neither wants to make luxury goods – “I am neither Berluti nor Lobb” – nor to fulfill his clients’ eccentric orders – “this is a whole different job!” Nevertheless, he confesses: “If a very old customer expresses his wish to get one pink shoe and one green shoe, then okay, I will do it!” However, he acknowledges he carefully looks after “the look of the shoes”: “I am part of the orthopedic category, but I try to bring fashion in it”; and one can detect a note of deep pleasure in the boot-maker’s words while he talks about designing new models or searching for innovative and aesthetic materials to offer his clients.
As he maintains that “working hard is not enough, the most difficult part of the job is to get new clients there; if they talk about you, then you exist”, Eric Lomain attends to his communication: his website is illustrated with splendid photographs of his studio, and he estimates that this display has impacted his clientele, diversifying and rejuvenating it. He nurses a loyal following by preciously guarding their orders and measures in handwritten notebooks and by refusing to talk about outstanding customers, arguing “each customer is special”.
Eric Lomain is the exception that proves the rule: the boot-maker admits with a smile that he has not made the shoes he himself is wearing because he does not have enough time to devote to his own feet.
Made in Amiens. Angèle Rincheval-Hernu is graduated from Sciences Po and the Institut Français de la Mode. After a ready-to-wear marketing experience (Hermès, Prada, Miu Miu), she joined in 2007 the communication direction at Yohji Yamamoto house. Working now as a freelancer, she is the author of Trésors du Vintage published by La Martinière, writes for fashion brands and parisian cultural clubs, and contributes to the Maison d’Exceptions online magazine dedicated to textile know-how.
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