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I am Kevin Leahy, and this is the introduction to a new paradigm in bespoke footwear in America. Up until now, bespoke footwear required either a last (foot form) that was pulled off a shelf and modified for your foot, or plaster foot casts that are modified into lasts. A few high-end bootmakers in London and continental Europe will hand-carve wood lasts from scratch, but this is very expensive ($5,000 and up). But quite frankly, if you have orthopedic issues, the finished shoes, though beautiful, may not meet your needs. Plaster casts are fragile, and most bootmakers will not work with plaster.

The ideal would be to scan an exact image of the foot into a computer, model the toe shape, orthopedic features and fit in the computer, then have wood lasts milled by computer for your feet. This is what I now offer. Casts are taken of your feet, your casts are then 3D scanned into a computer, your desired toe shape and heel height are applied to your 3D foot images, and then beautiful wood lasts are CNC machined from your 3D files. Then orthotic arch supports are molded to your lasts and custom cut and sewn uppers (the top part of the shoe or boot) are made from European leathers.

So now you can have old-world craftsmanship combined with state of the art 3D imagery of your feet!

In addition, I am offering designs that have been difficult to find in footwear made from foot casts. Individual crafts people, called upper makers, design elegant patterns to ensconse your feet in luxurious European leathers. They will draw the design on your lasts, make patterns and then cut and sew the leather to fit your feet. After a fitting with your custom arch supports molded to your lasts, I then stretch the leather sewn by the upper makers around your orthotics and lasts. I finish your shoes or boots with the sole and heel of your choice. Sound complicated? Not really. I will evaluate your feet and guide you through process of choosing the style and other options.

The process of boot and shoe upper making explained:  Boot and Shoe Upper Making

Need more info? Check out my reviews on my other website.

Gallery

Let your imagination run wild! These are bespoke boots!

Many clients require ankle support, but would like the convenience of a zipper. Very popular in Europe, a combo zip/lace boot offers the best of both easy on/off with the support that only lacing can provide. Whether it is for a severe orthopedic problem or just that little extra support that you need, a zip/ lace boot can be the answer.

Leather Fan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This post explains how you will choose your design: Boot and Shoe Upper Making

 

 

About

I’m Kevin Leahy, and I started making custom footwear in 1976, apprenticing under an Austrian Master Shoemaker in Seattle for three and a half years. Heinz Heiss was from Tyrol, and his specialty in the old country was making custom hiking boots and ski boots (back when ski boots were made from leather). During those years I learned various methods of constructing shoes and boots, including the art and nuance of measuring feet, patternmaking, and design. Heinz had learned his craft at a trade school located at a monastery. There was no electricity in that part of Tyrol back then; everything was done by hand. A sharp knife was essential, and there was to be no waste! Although Heinz had made some accommodations to more modern techniques, essentially Heinz was still a very traditional shoemaker intimately connected to a tradition that went back centuries.  I started out sweeping the floor and tidying the workbenches, and by the end of the 3 1/2 years I was making the shoes from start to finish, and Heinz would present them to the customer as his own work, which I considered the highest possible compliment. Heinz was tough, fair and expected perfection. Only a few of the many people that started apprenticeships with Heinz finished. But it was worth it.

I went on to work for the Veterans Administration as a custom orthopedic shoemaker, then took over a custom diabetic shoe program for the University of Texas Health Science System. But I knew my training was not complete. I traveled to the Munich School of Orthopedic Shoemaking and hired the valedictorian of the class. We returned to Texas, setting up a shop with all the latest German equipment and hired two additional German orthopedic shoemakers. As the supervisor of the facility I was able to absorb the latest skills and techniques of German orthopedic shoemaking for the next three years.

After thirteen years of shoemaking I completed the UCLA graduate Prosthetics Program. After my residency in prosthetics I opened a prosthetics and orthotics facility in Santa Cruz, which I operated for fourteen years. During this time I continued bootmaking and pedorthics.

This is what I have to offer you:

40 years of fitting shoes, braces and artificial limbs to hard to fit feet and limbs. Countless hours of training and experience in gait analysis and anatomy. Traditional training in how to make hiking boots combined with formal education in orthopedic appliances. I continue a close connection to German orthopedic shoemaking, attending courses and meetings in Germany. I directly import most of the components of your custom hiking boots from Germany.

If you have any kind of fitting problem I can address it. Make a no-cost appointment to have your feet evaluated and to discuss the possibilities!

Blog

Leather Samples from Europe Arrived

We just received over 200 swatches of leather from Europe. A large assortment of colors (almost any color you can think of!) in various weights and finishes, including Italian calf. Perforated, waterproof, natural tanned, metallics, earth tones, pastels and more. Also crocodile, cayman and lizard prints. Remember, it is you that is designing your shoes. Combine traditional calf …

Why an Orthopedic Bespoke Bootmaker?

What can an orthopedic shoemaker do for you that exceeds the capabilities of most bespoke shoemakers? A couple of examples: A German orthopedic shoemaker and I visited a famous west end London bespoke shoemaker. The owner very graciously spent some time with us and we naturally talked about shoemaking techniques. We brought up some orthopedic topics. …

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leahyboots@outlook.com

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