Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dan Freeman's Leatherworks


Dan Freeman learned to make shoes over thirty years ago in New Orleans. Now he practices his art in a small shop off of Route 7 in Middlebury, Vermont.

Dan custom makes all types of shoes including dress, sneakers and boat shoes but is best known for his equestrian and hiking boots. For every shoe, Dan creates a custom form modeled after the foot of a customer. Dan keeps all of these customers' forms in the back for future use.

Dan requires customers to make multiple sizing visits to his workspace in Middlebury, and ohh yahh, they cost $1,800.

Day Hikers. Dan uses Vibram soles for all of his rubber soled shoes.

Forms for Equestrian boots and a pair of his early work.

A view of Dan's shop and his apprentice.

Dan makes these labels himself.

I loved these sandals. Very simple, high quality and 1/10 the price of the Day Hikers.

I love the simplicity of the design. These will last forever.

If I ever have the money to purchase a pair of $2,000 custom made shoes, I will certainly support a shoemaker like Dan Freeman. His trade represents the last of a long tradition craftsman who learn by apprenticeship, not a $50,000 a year college or an online course. Dan doesn't have a website and does all of his business out of his workspace. Customers fly to Vermont from all over the US to have Dan make their shoes. After spending twenty minutes in his store I can see why.

20 comments:

J.P. said...

Wow-- thank you for this post. I have a place in Vermont and would love to stop by and check this place out.

jookyung.lee@gmail.com said...

Those day hikers are beautiful, leather looks amazing.

Foster Huntington said...

I love the hikers, If only my danners fit like them.
Foster

Sam said...

It's so great that there are still places that hand down their trade through apprenticeships.

Smashwindow said...

Its sad to think that you need to pay exorbitant amounts of money to get handmade shoes. Seriously $1,800? For Italian dress oxfords yes, for hiking boots never.

Foster Huntington said...

I would much rather spend 1800 on a pair of custom, hand made hiking boots than on some Italian dress shoes i would wear three times a year.
Foster

Smashwindow said...

haha yeah i guess you live in maine and i live in madrid so our needs are quite different

Isaac Buie said...

Beautiful boots, great post...thanks.

Foster Huntington said...

Well i guess that makes senses about the oxfords then...
Foster

newgrass said...

I back it. I probably will never have $1800 to spend on a pair of shoes, but I love the fact that there are real deal artisans still out there hand-making custom shoes like this. There certainly is an art to this.

What's up with the bluchers in the background of the sandal pic? Are those something he was making? They look nice.

nikole said...

Wow, I think I'll have to wait a few years, but this is beautiful, I'd love a pair.

bferry said...

loved browsing here when i was at middlebury. great post.

slim said...

There are other people making beautiful, expensive, handcrafted hiking boots in northern new england...

http://www.limmerboot.com/

slim said...

...and further north, for $1,600, is Mr. Van Gorkom...

http://www.hikingbootshandcrafted.com/hikingbootshandcrafted.html

...written up in the March/April 2007 Men's Vogue.

tons of land said...

love those sandals too. hey - a little closer to home for you is Robin Lawlor of Travellers Leather up in Belfast. I stumbled across his store years ago and spent a good hour chatting him up. I've since been craving a pair of his custom boots. Super pricy unfortunately, but I'm sure worth every penny.

http://www.travellersleather.com

Anonymous said...

I googled dan freeman leatherworks to get his telephone number to make sure he's open today and the first thing that pops up is a blog with a picture from Miller steps... further investigation led to discover that you are in my class at colby. I'll let you know how my handmade sandals for my move to Thailand come out. And thanks for writing about small Vermont artisans- I have yet to find a better place in all the world than this, my home state.

Anonymous said...

gdrg

sourceoutdoor said...

This is wonderful. You see everyday less and less Mom & Pop shops, and all the small shoes companies are being outrun by giant corporations. I salute to this little shop, and the shoes look really on the high end.

egorey said...

When I went into his shop to inquire about having shoes made he looked at me and before he even asked what I'd like he told me that I couldn't afford shoes he would make. I was standing there with two thousand dollars in my purse ready to buy shoes but because he is an arrogant snob I took my business elsewhere.

leather Passport Holder said...

nice blog nice posting...on freeman leather works.