In the small studio of Roberts & Hassett, Theo Hassett carefully crafts a pair of bespoke shoes. The studio sits within the Captains of Industry cafe in the heart of Melbourne, within earshot of trams ringing their bells as they trundle along busy Elizabeth Street.
With the rich smell of leather in the air, R&H’s handmade footwear and leathergoods studio is equipped with old, almost antique, machines that look like they’ve seen a lot of work. Scraps of leather burst from various boxes as if trying hard to be noticed, waiting to be transformed.
Using bark tanned Kangaroo leather, cut and dyed by hand in their studio, no pair of R&H shoes are the same. All of them have a completely individual pattern designed for the client who will have come by for several consultations and fittings to ascertain the precise fit and style.
Ever since I first encountered R&H I’ve made it a goal to commission a pair of shoes from them, though I doubt I’ll be able to afford one anytime soon. As he works Theo tells me an average pair of shoes made by them will take a week to make and cost $1200, which I’m almost ashamed to admit is about $1150 more than I might usually spend on footwear. So for now, my R&H shoes will remain a ‘bucket list’ item.