Shoemaking 101

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I just got back from a 10 hour day at Brooklyn Shoe Space and although I’m tired my head is swimming with all that we did today.
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Let me break it down:

  • We measured our feet(Keiko could tell I do yoga since my feet are a little wide and I evenly distribute weight across my foot)
  • We picked out our lasts (the plastic/wood strucutures in the shape of feet that dictate heel height, toe shape, etc,) and covered them with masking tape
  • We drew our designs onto the lasts
  • We removed the masking tape and used it to cut out patterns for both the lining and the upper of the shoe

How did that take 10 hours? Luckily I already had a design in mind and, although it’s fairly simple and linear, making the pattern was really time-intensive. I can’t imagine making patterns by hand for a more complex shoe. (Also the act of turning something 3D into something 2D can really throw you for a loop.)
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Once the last is covered with masking tape you draw your design on and then cut it in half, very carefully removing the tape and smoothing this 3D mold onto a piece of card stock. From there you trace, measure, cut, and cut some more. I feel like every time I finsished a step Keiko would say, “trace it again.” Now, there are very good reasons why you have to trace your design so many times. After all, you are building a shoe out of many different parts. But when you finally get to breaking your design down into smaller parts, seeing the pattern start to reform into a structure is incredibly exciting.
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Catch up with me on Instagram or Twitter to see some more #miromakesshoes pics!

#MiroMakesShoes

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Yesterday morning I headed off to New York for what I hope will be a rewarding adventure. If you’ve read this blog before, you know that I’m just a smidgen obsessed with shoes. Okay maybe a little more than that. So what does a person besotted with shoes do? Why, she goes to Brooklyn to learn how to make them by hand, of course!

Back in August I became fascinated with the techniques and mechanics behind making a pair of shoes. Have you ever really stopped to think about it? Many of us have tried our hand at a sewing machine and can determine how a (simple) piece of clothing is made, but what about shoes?

Let me tell you that from what I’ve learned it is very complicated, repetitive, and tedious. Gluing, cutting, folding, hammering, cutting, hammering again. But I’m still so excited because there are few things more rewarding than creating something with your own hands.

If you want to follow along with my adventures this week just take a look at my Instagram or Twitter accounts!

Why I’m Shopping Local for the Holidays This Year

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I’m a consumer, I’m an avid shopper, I’m a bargain hunter, I’m a luxury lover. These are things I’ve never tried to hide about myself (although I’ve never broadcasted them, either). I’ve recently decided to change my lifestyle drastically and have cut down on a lot of little luxuries. No more lunches out (I have plenty of food at home!), no more bits of shopping here and there, no more lattes.

So what does this have to do with shopping locally? With less money to spend I have to think hard about where I want to spend it. I always eat and drink coffee locally and always give tips (here’s an interesting article on why it’s so important to tip well) but I often shop where I can get the nicest items for the best prices. This usually takes me online or to my favorite stomping grounds, Neiman Marcus Last Call. As I’ve become more conscious about where I spend my dough I realize how important it is to support others trying to make a living in my area. It comes down to common sense. Why wouldn’t you want to help maintain and create jobs in your city?

The Austin Independent Business Alliance says that shopping locally puts 3 times as much money back into the local economy. Of every $100 you spend locally, $45 stays in the community. Every $100 you spend at a chain gives only $13 back to the local economy. Wow.

Yes, local stores are often more expensive. They can’t give the huge discounts that the big boxes do. And while I don’t think it’s practical to always buy everything locally, the writing is on the walls. This season I’m buying less and shopping more consciously, and hopefully supporting my community along the way.

What about you — how much do you shop locally during the holidays? Would you consider doing it more?

Here are some Austin stores I’ll be checking out this holiday season:

5 Trending Cuts for Dashing Men

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I recently had the pleasure of meeting with José Buitron, owner and stylist, of José Luis Salon here in Austin. Along with his men’s stylist expert, Michael Zuniga, we discussed style forecasting for men’s looks this year.

As José and Michael point out, men’s hair fashion is completely different than women’s because it is much slower to gain traction with the masses and, once popular, is much more stubborn about leaving. Men’s hairstyles also seem to derive from trends that are already happening by reinventing themselves in small increments, going a little neater or messier depending on society’s mood.

Luckily for me, José and Michael walked me through five trending cuts that would work for any man regardless of age, profession, or sexual orientation. Styled using the wonderful V76 by Vaughn products, here are the five tried and true men’s cuts that will leave any man looking dapper and dashing.

men's loose pompadour style

Loose Pompador: The new take on the ‘50s pompadour is loose, flowing, and a little messy.
V76 Products: Conditioning Gel, V Rated Natural Wax, Holding Spray

quiff men's hairstyle

Quiff: An edgy hairstyle for anyone wanting to channel his rocker fantasies.
V76 Products: Styling Cream, Molding Paste, Holding Spray

push-up men's haircut

Push-up: Not just for your father, this is the most versatile of all the looks.
V76 Products: TEX Texture Paste, Control Balm, Holding Spray

classic men's hairdo

Classic: With shows like Boardwalk Empire molding our views of men’s hairstyles, this ‘20s-inspired look is for the slick, dapper man.
V76 Products: TEX Texture Paste, Control Balm, Holding Spray

fohawk hairdo products

Fohawk: A sexy mix between the push-up and quiff, this style is perfect for the low-maintenance man who doesn’t want to give up his style card.
V76 Products: Control Balm, Holding Spray

Of course, none of the above could have been achieved without some serious help from some American-made grooming products. V76 by Vaughn is the complete men’s grooming line used at José Luis Salon. While most of these looks use multiple products, José says that if you’re on the go and lower-maintenance, invest in the Control Balm Strong Hold. It’s 5 fluid ounces of the best sculpting balm I’ve ever used. Lightweight and sturdy, it does the trick.

v76 by vaughn control balm

Whether you are gay, straight, old, young, purple, or green, don’t forget that it is OK for men to take care of themselves and their hair. After all, these days, it’s the cool thing to do. Keep it dashing my friends.

- Andy aka Dashing Man