First of August visited Shoemaker Nils Kalf Amsterdam
A little while ago, I passed by a building in the Jordaan district in Amsterdam. A black industrial craftmachine and a nicely exposured wall of brown paper shoebags caught my attention. I stopped to have a better look and got surprised when I noticed I was staring through the windows of a shoemaker company. I figured the person behind the company would be someone with passion for his or her work and so I decided to get in touch with the owner, named Nils Kalf. I can say that my expectations got confirmed. My visit that could have lasted half an hour, ended up in an one and a half hour visit in which Nils told me all about his company and the craft of shoemaking. For example, how he in 1986, after a six year workexperience, decided to start his own business in Amsterdam’s city centre. Together with a few of his creative friends he arranged an entire new look for the store. Six months ago, Nils moved his company from the citycentre to the heart of the Jordaan district. He also demonstrated me the entire shoemaking process in a nutshell: from footprint, to shoe-last, fitting, adjustments and final result.
Nils is not a typical shoe repairer. He also designs and makes customized shoes under his own shoelabel ‘Nils Kalf’. Since 1,5 year, he shares his studio together with two young designers, Jelske Peterson and Jarah Stoop. The two ladies collaborate under a new label in luxury leather goods: PetersonStoop. Nils’ passion for the craft of shoemaking is clearly expressed through his work and his enthusiasm when he speaks with me about his techniques, leather materials (ever heard of stingray leather?) and his customers. During the years, he has optimized the quality of his repairments. His contant willingness to improve and learn results in great work. Today, Nils even receives shoes by mail from people from the other side of the country who want to get their shoes ‘revived’ with a Nils Kalf sole.
© FoA. Images by Karlijn