Behind the Scenes_John

John has been the shoemaker for Vivienne Westwood since the beginning of 1987. Originally his father Aresti managed the business & it was he that I first met & dealt with as it was I working for my mother’s production at the time that first found & approached them.
Using the hunch that the best shoemakers in town were Greek, I checked in the Yellow pages & went to visit two or three of them with the brief to make me a sample of the rocking horse boot. Aresti originally from Cyprus did the best job & gave the best price & so started a partnership which I suppose has been rather life changing.
Originally the shoe shop in Roman Road, East London did business by the repair of shoes & by the making of special orders for customers. The shelves in the shop front & the window advertised an interesting range of fetish boots & shoes as it was the fetish scene that were the main clients. However business with Westwood steadily got better & by 1995 they had left the high street shop & moved into an industrial workshop around the corner in Old Ford Rd. From here they devoted their whole business to the Westwood production along with some work for Bella Freud who had worked with Vivienne’s company previously & also with Agent Provocateur (run by Vivienne’s son Joe).During this time John took more of a front seat running the business.
Over the years John reckons that on average they have made 3000 pairs of shoes a year. During the period where they were making the overseas orders for the Japanese company Itochu they were making twice that amount. Until ten years ago they made all the samples for the fashion shows but although invited they did not always attend the show as they were usually too tired. In the last ten years the samples have been made in Italy but just this season they have started doing these again. I ask John which shoes does he remember making the most & he laughs & says that he remembers a sample pair for a show years ago which had rubber vibrators sticking out of their toes. Funny enough this was for the Erotic Zones ss95 show.
Right at the moment he is making a new order of 5 styles for the World’s End shop including the slave sandal platform which you can see in production in the below photographs. These should be in the shop in a couple of months.
Another thing that makes John laugh are the various characters that have done the driving for the company. He remembers one in particular who was always in such a rush that he nicknamed him `Quicksilver` (I remember this one as well. He had slicked back silver/grey hair, was a member of a western/cowboy club where I think he was the quickest gun & I remember that he never used to use the clutch pedal to change gears on the manual gearbox saying that this was quicker to drive. He went through about 3 gearboxes).
John’s father Aresti retired about 3 years ago & now John works on his own in a new workshop. He has two sons; Stephen (21) is at University studying history & Matthew (18) who is taking A levels. Sometimes at weekends they like to go up to Old Trafford to watch the match as John has a season ticket. He says that he is never bored in the job. He normally starts work about 6.30am finishing about 4.30pm & he has been doing the job so long now that he doesn’t even notice the fumes from the glue & polishes used. `High` or not John’s work has always been to the highest standard & there is nothing shoe ways that he cannot make. So the partnership with Westwood has definitely been a mutually beneficial one. We couldn’t have done without him…

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14 thoughts on “Behind the Scenes_John

  1. Amazing and very insightful great that the shoes are made in the UK, I own a couple of pairs and the quality is amazing and well worth the price tag.

  2. Thanks for your latest addition to the Worlds End website. LOVE what you’ve been doing with it recently. Really informative pieces ( great to know the shoes are made back in the UK). Looking forward to future articles. Cheers Ben

  3. How wonderful :-) so exciting to see the person who made the shoes I own. Beautiful craftsmanship and stunning design working hand in hand :-) just magic :-)

  4. A huge thank you for John for making all my Westwood shoes, I have never suffered a blister or rubbing when wearing them, every pair fits like a glove and are as comfortable as a pair of slippers. The price you pay reflects the quality materials and the skills of this clever artisan. Thanks to John and the Westwood collaboration.

  5. Amazing post! I too look forward to the new designs. Thank you John for your hard work! I love all of my gold label shoes.

  6. Pingback: The Kind of Winter I do Like – Vivienne Westwood Shakespeare Boots | Fashion Pearls of Wisdom

  7. What a brilliant post! I have to echo what others have said before me, I love what you’re doing with the website at the moment! It’s also really nice to hear that so much of their production is in the UK!

    Do you still sell the Propaganda Pirate Boots at WE? x

  8. Very interesting post. Many thanks to John for making such beautiful VW shoes. I bought several pairs recently and find them amazingly comfortable to wear.

  9. Amazing! Thanks for this informative article. Vivienne Westwood shoes are AMAZING! I treasure all of mine!

  10. such a good information. I start to make shoes and have the same process difficult at begin to find a good craftmanshomaker ,ito undertand the value of those professionals guru making be possible achive a quality pair of shoes!and of course amazing sandals !