Handmade at every step.
From our studio/shop in Bristol UK, Ollie & Lucy handcraft every pair of Ottowin shoes, boots and sandals. We use industry waste and locally tanned leather for all of our footwear, supporting tradition tanning crafts and keeping precious materials away from landfill. We make less than 200 pairs a year - mainly made to order with a 6 week lead time.
Designing for Longevity
To be sustainable you have to build up from the basics.
Designing for longevity is most important first step to take. We design timeless footwear styles which you will want to wear today, tomorrow, next year and next decade.
This is at the heart of slowing down. We don’t create 6 seasons a year, and you will never receive an email from us letting you know our high summer collection has launched. Encouraging a change of wardrobe at this speed is the work of fast fashion; a growth model which can never be sustainable.
We use leather not plastic - and industry waste leather as far as possible.
Leather is the most important component of our footwear and the starting place for our styles. We use rich, characterful, hardwearing leather hand-picked in unique a tonal range that represents us.
We use leather in every part of our uppers; from the parts you can see to the hidden structural components used to shape and stiffen at the toe, heel and insole, to create a long lasting footbed. Using leather in this traditional way as opposed to the modern industry standard of plastic and cardboard stiffeners and insoles means that our footwear will last longer and mold to your feet. Vegetable tanned leather also has the benefit of being naturally antibacterial, so combatting bad odours is literally built into our shoes.
Our vegetable-tanned leather is sourced from Thomas Wares, a traditional vegetable tannery here in Bristol, just a bike ride away from our studio.
See a short film of the ancient tannery here.
For our Uppers, we use industry waste leather for nearly all of our styles (with only two exceptions). We source our industry waste leather from the stacks of waste produced by the Northampton shoe trade. We actively hunt out the best leather - every hide we use has been hand-picked by us, sometimes found deep in the tallest stacks. We might spend a whole day searching through mountains of leather to find a select few, choosing only 5 - 10 new hides per season.
This means every colour we make is a limited run: we can normally only cut 10-15 pairs of shoes out of each hide, and once we have used it up, that colour has gone for good.
We work with a few different materials for soles of our shoes. This is one of the hardest parts to produce sustainably, as the properties needed for a sole (hard-wearing, grippy and waterproof) are so readily fulfilled by products like EVA and composite rubbers - all oil based materials.
There are two more sustainable alternatives available to a small-scale makers like us: leather soling or natural rubber. While we do use both these materials for our sandals and light boots, come winter neither material produces the grip and water repellence of the oil-based options.
We are working on a way of molding crepe (natural rubber) to produce a grippy sole, but the material can still be slippery when wet so more experimentation is needed.
In the meantime, we use Vibram soles - a world leader in outdoor, hardwearing soles. And we can re-sole all of our footwear when the time comes.
We hand-cut all our leathers with a clicking blade - a specific leather knife.
There are elements of hand-stitching on most of our boot styles as well as machine stitching.
We hand-last our footwear onto a vegetable tanned insole board: this is the process of stretching the leather around a foot-form so the shoes take their desired shape. The vegetable-tanned leather becomes the foot bed. It is naturally odour-resistant, antibacterial and moulds to the shape of your feet making them comfier the more you wear them.
Next we attach the upper to the sole. This is done using both Blake stitching - a very strong stitch which goes through the insole, upper & the outsole and pulls all the components of the footwear together - and cement bonding, the process of using a contact adhesive to glue all of these layers together. Using both of these processes makes for a very well-made shoe which can be re-soled.
Because we make our shoes to order, we can measure your feet in person in Bristol or you can measure your own using our online video. This allows us to offer a greater variety of fits including half sizes and three different widths, giving us a lot of permutations and meaning we will have a great size to suit you.
We are keen to spread the love of footwear and share the skills we know. We run in-person courses as well as a make-at-home sandal course which includes a video and kits sent to you in the post.