Expert Interview with Lifelong Cobbler, Yakov

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(Explained the Project)

L. “On your website I read that you repair Men’s dress shoes, leather purses, boots, and luggage. With all these different services, what is the most common repair? What is the most common shoe repair?”

Yakov. “I focus on this grouping because usually they are all made from leather. […] The most common repair at Dr. Shoes is usually a resole.  We focus mainly on shoes and most of our clients need resoles on boots and dress shoes. “

L. “I read that you were a leather cutter for a company making custom leather shoes. It seems that many cobblers get their start with working in leather. Do most cobblers only focus on Leather goods? Is there anything you can do to fix knit uppers/athletic shoes?”

Y. “Yes I worked as a leather cutter in a shop that specialized in making custom made shoes. A lot of my colleagues worked as an apprentice like myself. The early stages of being a cobbler is all in leather work. I began as a cutter and worked my way up to owning Dr. Shoes… […] I do not know of any cobblers that work with athletic shoes. […] Athletic shoes are difficult to repair and cannot be resoled. The details in the soles and level of support needed cannot be recreated in a cobbler shop. We focus with leather goods and usually work with leather and rubber when resoling.”

L. “If there was a way to repair/resole athletic shoes would you implement the service in your cobbler shop? Why/why not?”

Y. “It really depends on the process and if there is a demand for fixing athletic shoes. As of now I do not know any cobblers who work on athletic shoes and haven’t had many customers asking me about them […] If the service is proven and there is a demand then I could consider implementing it here at Dr. Shoes. […] That is about as much as I can answer on that because it is a space that I am just unfamiliar with. “

L. “Recently, the shoe industry has focused on bringing sustainability into their designs to help prevent excessive pollution. In general, a Cobbler helps with sustainability by keeping shoes out of landfills by repairing them. Once you repair a pair of shoes what do you

personally, do with the scraps and any leftover used pieces? Do you recycle or reuse?”

Y. “All of the old soles get thrown out immediately after replacement. There is not much you can do with them after they are covered in old glue and have threading holes around them. […] As for the scraps it really depends on the size. With resoling there isn’t too much leftover scraps so anything like that gets thrown away…”

L. “On your website I couldn’t find any pricing for repairs. What do you charge for shoe repairs? (resoling, leather touch ups, panel replacement, etc)”

Y. “We begin with a basic resoling price of $35, since the shoe market has become more affordable, I’ve had to adjust my prices since becoming the owner in 1999. […] Besides that, everything else when replacing a sole depends on the level of deterioration in the leather and the level of work needed to fix them. […]”

L. “Could you take me through the process of resoling a shoe?”

 (Got out a men’s dress shoe that needed a resole)

He began with cleaning the shoe saying “This is the most important part because it removes all the dust…”

Destruction

After cleaning the shoe, he took a knife and popped off the rubber and leather heel block that is connected with nails. This is where he would stop if he only had to replace the heel, but since this was a complete resole, he said he had to completely remove the whole leather sole. With this he took his knife and began cutting the thread holding the sole to the bottom of the shoe. After the threading was complete, he got out a solvent and began running it along the edges of the old leather sole. While do this he said, “this loosens up the leather allowing for it to be separated from the leather upper…” He then proceeded to take plyers and his knife and rip the leather sole off of the leather upper.

Reconstruction

At this point the sole was off and ready to begin the resoling process. He began with cleaning and sanding the glue and particles off the bottom of the leather uppers (cleaning for a good bond to the new sole). He then retrieved a leather sole blank and spreads glue on the leather upper and new blank. He let them sit for 10 minutes to dry then bonded them to each other. After letting them set up he brought them to the sander and shaped the sole to the upper. After this he made a line about 3mm from the outside of the sole and began cutting a canal around the outside of the shoe. From here he walked to his threading machine and rethreaded the leather soles to the upper. After this he began work on the heels. With this he got a rubber heel and glued it to the leather soles. He then nailed ten nails into the heel locking it in place. Finally, he went on the sander one last time to get the final shape of the soles. The final step was dying the leather sole to the desired color and he was done. This whole process took about 40 minutes with a lot of heavy machinery used.