Playing footsie

Elleke van Duin, Monday, March 10, 2014

When I am abroad and talk about one of my favourite topics, shoes, I can tell that our Jan Jansen has become known far and wide. And he is the only Dutch shoe designer who is internationally renowned, which is a pity because new top talents have been emerging ever since ArtEZ, Arnhem’s art academy, started teaching a master’s course in shoe design.

Jan Jansen is known as the godfather of Dutch shoe designers. He studied at the Academy of Art and Industry in Eindhoven, got his shoemaker’s training in Waalwijk and acquired the art of design in the Italian workshops in Rome. He introduced his own label, Jan Jansen shoes, in 1968. His designs are always innovative and powerful and comply with the highest standards of craftsmanship. He has been in the business for 47 years now, received many awards and shows his work at (international) exhibitions on a regular basis.

Fred de la Bretonière is another living legend. His maxim is ‘A sole for every soul’ and he seems to be succeeding, celebrating his 40th anniversary as a footwear designer in 2011. He runs three labels, a classically fashionally Fred de la Bretonière, the casual Shabbies collection, and Fretons, a sneaker label. His design team is headed up by Lilian Sanderson and designs women’s and men’s shoes, women’s and men’s bags and belts for all three brands. He recently added clothing to the repertoire.

Fredie Stevens has gained international fame with her designs for years now. She designs every shoe for the shows of celebrity design duo Viktor & Rolf and her designs are sold in London and Paris. Marijke Bruggink is another celebrity in the footwear industry. She opened her store Lola Pagola in collaboration with Marlie Witteveen in 1985, selling their own shoe designs. Bruggink has been the lead designer for Clarks Originals in London for years now, but the extensive digital archives of Lola Pagola are still available to inspire a new generation of shoe designers.

Rosanne Bergsma graduated from ArtEZ, the art academy in Arnhem, in 2009. While studying she specialised in traditional shoemaking methods. After graduating, she founded her own footwear label. Marloes ten Böhmer, who creates provocative couture shoes, and Roderick Pieters, who seeks his challenge in simplifying traditional shoe constructions, are two other newcomers. The first students graduated from the Master’s course in Fashion Design in Arnhem in 2012, with Deniz Terli and Amber Verstegen among their numbers. Terli has already designed shoes for the Sacha footwear stores.

If you still prefer the old-fashioned wooden clog, you won’t be disappointed. One of the places you can visit is the Klompenschuurtje (‘little wooden shoe barn’) in Aarle-Rixtel in Brabant, where Nicole van Aarle is the fifth generation in the family to create tailor made wooden shoes. Quite special, wouldn’t you say?

Fred de la Bretonière, several stores throughout Holland, for instance:
Utrechtsestraat 77, Amsterdam
Korte Poten - Plein 13, The Hague
Steenweg 27, Utrecht

Jan Jansen, Rokin 42, Amsterdam
Klompenschuurtje, Helmondseweg 3B, Aarle-Rixtel