In Praise of the Cobbler



I feel lucky to have a fantastic local cobbler. He's a 'proper' cobbler, by which I mean that all he does is fixing shoes and leather items - no key cutting or engraving name plates for a high street chain. He has a small workshop, which looks filthy and is a complete tip, but he never fails to do a fantastic job re-heeling my shoes or sewing the strap of a sandal to make it wearable again.

Last week I asked him to fix a bag for me. It is a cheapie faux Cath Kidston Bag, and though I normally prefer leather bags, I loved the colour, size and style (and price!) of it. Of course, the faux leather parts which attach the strap to the side of the bag soon started to tear. I took the bag to my cobbler and asked him to replace those parts with leather. Done! And for only £5, "because it's you". This was about half of the bag's original cost, but well worth it so I can keep using it. Returning it to the shop for a replacement would have only seen exactly the same fault occur.

It definitely pays to use your local services. The traditional cobbler is a great example of someone who can give new life to your beloved shoes and bags. And in our era of throwaway fashion, isn't that fantastic?

K x


19 comments:

  1. I too have an amazing local cobbler who works out of a shop that is the size of a toilet cubicle. He's very grumpy (I take that to be part of the cobbler job description) but works miracles. I have exceptionally big feet and make an effort to keep my shoes going for as long as possible. I live in fear that he'll retire.

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  2. I love my cobbler. He does work for that high street chain - well, it's a franchise I think - so he does also cut keys and engrave things. But he is fantastically knowledgable and has been able to fix up shoes that otherwise would have been scrapped. In fact, when the heel tips wore down on a pair of Melissa shoes the Melissa people told me they weren't designed to be fixable but he fixed them! Hurrah for cobblers :)

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    1. 'Not designed to be fixable' sounds like a rallying cry to cobblers everywhere!

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  3. I love our cobbler, too, he's so cheap and a pleasure to visit. x

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  4. We live in the depths of the countryside and have a saddlemaker who keeps my beloved handbag/baby change bag going. All the horrible plastic bits are gradually being replaced with lovely saddle leather and the bag looks better every time it comes back from his workshop. MrsAlex

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  5. Oooh lovely bag! There's a cobbler like that in my parents' town, known locally as 'Ron the Boot'. His shop is like the one you've described, very messy and a bit grimy, but he has masses of experience and he's so cheap.

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  6. A great reminder - you are right that we often throw away things which could quite easily be repaired.
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

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  7. I LOVE my local cobbler! I take my nice black heels there every year to get shined & have the heels re-tipped... absolutely worth it. I don't think mine makes keys, but he does sell western shirts & cowboy boots, which are totally beautiful & totally expensive :)

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  8. I love the cobbler, too! I've had the same two pairs of cheapo boots for years now, and he resoles them every year for about $11! He's a total miracle worker. What a great skill!

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  9. Great idea! I have a bag I just love but the strap (I'm not sure if it's leather or not) has come undone. I don't know if there is anyone like your cobbler around here... time to find out!

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    1. Good luck - hope you find one :)

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  10. I have a beautiful red Kate Spade patent leather bag that is in desperate need of repair. Your post reminds me that I should take it to a cobbler. Thanks lady!

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  11. We had a fantastic local cobbler but, alas! he retired a year or two since, and his shop became a newsagents. 'Proper' cobblers are so few and far between these days, if you do have one in your area, please do support them. You don't know what you've got til it's gone, as the song goes.

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    1. So true, you do wonder how anyone could really make a living at it.

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  12. What a cute bag - and such a nice story about your cobbler. Our local cobbler retired last year, and it is a terrible loss to me! The key cutting "replacement" can only re heel shoes, he has no skill at patching or sewing on new straps, very sad.

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  13. I'm another fan of local cobblers. It must be part of their "thing" to work in a room the size of a telephone box that is an absolute tip! You bag is lovely, and definately worth getting fixed. :)

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  14. I think you're right; we lost something, maybe you could call it the "art of repair" when so much became cheap and disposable.

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  15. we have found an amazing cobbler here in antwerp... took us a while since there are so many choices. this one does a great job and has quite the sense of humour: when i took my winter boots in to be re-heeled he took a look at them, grinned, and said 'oh boy, you should've stayed inside!'

    now we have to find a decent dressmaker to do alterations... the last one my mother tried messed up SO BAD replacing the zippers on a dress and a skirt (he put a super cheap, giant plastic blue zipper in the dress and an exposed zipper in the skirt instead of an invisible one). I told her i'd fix it but i'm getting sick of doing alterartions and repairs all the time.

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