by Adrienne So
Jeff Mandel owns a one-man shoe shop in Portland, OR called ExIT Shoes. After learning his craft in the Netherlands, he set up shop where he emphasizes the importance of making shoes that fit feet, with the best materials possible.
No pair of feet is the sameâ€š Mandel says on his site. Even your left foot measures different than your right. Finding well-made shoes that fit poses a problem for feet that differ even slightly from the production model.
Mandel's Italian vegetable-tanned leather, which uses chestnut and oak tannins in the curing process, costs more than leather tanned with mineral methods but it absorbs more water and keeps feet drier.
Mandel works from a custom print of the foot, from which he orders a custom last (or mold) around which he forms the shoe. Last modification takes place with customer input. The entire process can take up to a month to complete.
Handmade shoes cost $475; custom shoes run around $1,000. The cost covers all materials, labor, and a pair of trial shoes. For those outside of Portland, Mandel also takes out-of-town orders. Contact jeff [at] exitshoes [dot] com for more information.
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