Our new state of reality has had a huge impact on the fashion industry, supply chain and consumer purchasing patterns over the past several months.
Between limited disposable income, limited accessibility and production delays there has never been a better time to learn a new skill. In my opinion, it is time to take matters into our own hands, literally!
Throughout quarantine I have been shopping my own closet to see what I can revamp and upgrade!
This time has forced me to become extremely resourceful with what I already own and have access to.
The first project I tackled was a simple Decon/Recon of a pair of Nine West flats that I have had for years but have never worn.
Sooooo I decided to do a little Sole Surgery...
Keep reading for the step by step transformation how I turned these babies into my new favourite pair of shoes!
Pictured above: Original NineWest Oxford
I initially bought this Nine West pair of flats because I thought they were a creative take on the classic Oxford, although once I brought them home, I realized that I didn't like the look/ proportion of the black ankle strap on me and therefore they had never been worn.
Using an x-acto knife, I wedged the blade in between the insole and welt to slice off the straps! I made sure to cut the straps right at the base so there wouldn't be any leftover remnants.
FUN FACT: When cutting leather I always use an xacto knife, but I make sure to swap the original blade for an "ultra sharp" black blade. You can purchase these separately at Home Depot or Canadian Tire and they are just as good as a specialty shoemaker's knife!
I then carefully peeled off the sock liner. I never like the look of a natural sock liner on a black pair of shoes. Especially if they are a transition shoe that might be worn with pair of socks or tights.
Once the liner was peeled you can see a thin 2mm layer of green padding and then an extra circle layer of foam to protect you from feeling the screws.
FUN FACT: Believe it or not, this is a lot of padding that has been included for a production pair of shoes. Most brands will eliminate padding to save on cost and will just include the heel cookie to cover the screws.
To replace the natural sock liner I retraced the original shape onto a piece of black lambskin. I then used our heat stamp to emboss the Art and Sole logo. Once embossed, I glued them back in using "Barge Contact Cement".
FUN FACT: Most leather in the market has been Chrome tanned. This means the leather has been produced using a solution of chemicals, acids and salts to due the hide. It's is the most common tanning process because it is cheap and easy to mass produce. Due to the chemical process the only way to emboss this leather is with heat!
This new sock liner has been cut from a chrome tan article although when I purchase leather for the studio I generally source the offcuts from other leather companies that would otherwise throw them away. Ie. Canadian garment and upholstery companies.
With that said, when possible we prefer to use Vegetable tanned leather. It is called "vegetable" because of the natural materials used in the tanning process such as "tree bark" for instance. Since vegetable tanning is a natural process, its also eco-friendly and very maluable. It can be warped, shaped and embossed simply by wetting it with water. Therefore, if this sock liner has been cut out of veg tan. I would have wet the heel section with water and then could have grabbed my stamp and hammer to emboss the logo.
After removing the ankle straps, I realized I could turn the two leftover pieces into leather cuffs! BONUS!
So I grabbed my rotary hole punch and added a few more holes to fit them to my wrist instead of my ankle.
FUN FACT: You could use this same tool to adjust your belts!
While punching holes, I made an executive decision too punch around the entire strap for a perforated look. I them trimmed off a bit of the length.
FUN FACT: To clean up the raw edge I took a lighter and waved the flame over the stitching and the raw cut ends to seal the layers together and to singe threads ends. This will stop them from unraveling. Please note: Do not hold the flame over one spot for too long!
For a more professional finish (which I have yet to do), you could grab a bottle of black leather dye and with a small paint brush, drip a bit of dye inside each hole to cover up the bits of white. The white is a layer of interfacing that has been placed in between the upper and lining to make the straps more durable.
Et voila! I now have two new leather cuffs and one new pair of Mules in my life!