‘A world championship for shoe shining? You’re joking right?’ That is the reaction we often got when we told why we were going to London for a weekend. But in our business, it is a serious event.
On Saturday the 7th of April The Music Room in Mayfair in the heart of London was the place where about 1000 shoe enthusiasts got together. It was the stage for the Super Truck Show which was organized by Swedish shoe fanatic, Jesper, and an American in London with his own shoe brand, Justin.
In a somewhat like a small ballroom looking space there were hundreds of shining pairs on display for people coming from all over the world. The goal of the Trunk Show is to showcase shoe brands that are not sold by shops in the region the show is held. You won’t come across big English players like Crockett & Jones and Edward Green on this convention. These are mainly shoes from Italian, Spanish and Asian shoemakers. A selection of the attendees: Barbanera, Mario Bemer and Paolo Scafora, Matsumoto, Miyagi Kogyo, TLB, J. FitzPatrick shoes.
Besides nice shoes, the day was also about shoe care. Saphir is well represented as the sponsor of the event. And during the shoeshine contest, it is mainly about the products and the shoes. The title WC was given by the organization itself, but if you can get that many people to London on a Saturday to watch at and talk about shoes and shoe care, then we can’t blame them.
The world championship title went to John Chung, owner of the shoe shine bar Mason & Smith in Singapore. In twenty minutes he managed to transform a normal pair of Loake shoes into an incredibly shining pair.
At Distinctly Different we are pretty skilled with a cloth and some shoe wax, but in those twenty minutes we won’t manage to do what Mr. Chung did. That is probably why we were there as a visitor and not as a participant…
The shoemaking competition was, even though less highlighted, even more impressive. Not all thirty entries were as nice as the other, but there were some amazing shoes. The winning shoe came from Patrick Frei, a real collection of magnificent details, but judge for yourself beneath or take a look at the report on The Shoegazing Blog.
Of course, that Saturday in Mayfair is, as the name says, a Show. Although for a lot of people (the shoe brands, the shoe shiners, and the thirty shoemakers) it is about that day, our lies interest more in the things around that day. For a couple of days, the city is filled with fanatics from the business, relations, competitors and possible leads. And everything mixes with each other. On Thursday we had a great dinner with one of biggest competitors in the shoe care business. The party was completed by the organization of the event and also by the writer of the book Master Shoemakers. After writing about the best shoemakers in the world the Gary Tok is planning to do the same but then with suit makers. For that cause, he brought the same piece of fabric to the ten biggest suit makers with the assignment: ‘make a suit for me that holds your company’s identity, that is what I’m going to write about.’ This somewhat crazy, but so inspired lover of nice clothing and shoes soon takes for granted that he will have ten suits made of the same fabric in his closet. What a great guy!
We are almost a bit embarrassed about our daytime activities on Friday, a normal working day, but how great is it to spend the whole day on just one part of a street. Between the first (Crockett & Jones) and the last store (Taylor of Old Bond Street) that we visited on Jermyn Street, lies 141 feet according to Google Maps and it should take you about one minute to cross, and not the four hours that we needed. That is what you get when in every store you walk into you meet enthusiasts who only every now and then come across a person that he can talk indifferently to about the density of the cloth that you shine with or till how far you can let you shoe wax dry out for the optimal shine. Lovely to speak to people who work daily with the products that we write and give advice about and who practice what we tell our customers.
The date for next year isn’t announced yet, but we are for sure going again. In case you like shoes and London, we advise you to keep that weekend free!
Want to read and see more about the event? Or look at all the attendees of the Super Truck Show 2018, then read the whole part on The Shoegazing Blog. @Jesper&Justin, thanks and see you next year!