Meet the artisan shoemaker creating products for individualists, innovators, thinkers, makers and those who are too gentle to live among wolves.
Name: Stefanie Schoeninger || AKA: Stef or Schnitzel (because of my German heritage haha) || Often found: In my studio or in the ocean || Listening to: Vocal deep house (what can I say? I’m a Berlin girl..) || Whilst sipping: A glass of Laphroaig || Passionately discussing: Design ideas, politics & human rights, what’s for dinner, the power of the mind || And working on: Shoes.
They say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and for Atelier Stefani, that first step takes place in Lakeside Studios, a light-filled workshop that she shares with hatter BSVII in Sydney. Beneath its soaring ceilings are shoemaking tools scattered across wooden tables, a finishing machine that’s over a century old, and a loft space filled with shelves upon shelves of mechanical shoe forms.
It’s the home of German-born Stefanie Schöninger, an artisan shoemaker who creates pieces of art that last a lifetime. With dark hair cascading down her back, Stefanie doesn’t look like your typical shoemaker, so it makes sense that her shoes are anything but ordinary.
For Stefanie, being an artisan means creating something individual and unique for a specific person. With each shoe taking 40-90 hours to create, she imbues her emotions and energy into every stitch, infusing them with the passion of a true artist.
The process of creating the perfect shoe begins with the spark of an idea. Whether it’s a pair of boots for your next grand adventure or some shoes as you start your dream job, every shoe is inspired by the customer. During the initial design, Stefanie sits down to capture your story, your personality, your essence. And, once it hits the paper, the idea starts to become a reality.
It all comes down to the perfect fit, which is why detailed measurements are taken from the client’s foot. Using these measurements, Stefanie makes a last (a mechanical model of the foot), around which the footwear will be shaped. She then creates a pattern, which will then eventually becomes the trial shoe.
After this, the shoe begins to take shape. Using leather that has been sourced from family-owned tanneries in Italy, she hand-cuts the shapes that will form the upper, as well as skiving (thinning out portions of the leather for a seamless overlap), folding over the leather, and sewing it all together with meticulous precision.
This form is then moulded to the last and partnered with hand-cut insoles, before receiving its randing, a thin leather binding that runs around the junction of the upper and sole. Add a sole and a heel, and the shoe is shaped and polish to perfection.
It’s a time-consuming process, but one that Stefanie pours her heart and soul into. By transforming ancient traditions into modern craftsmanship, she hopes to create a new appreciation for products that are made well and with care.
If you value passion, creativity and skill, you will simply adore working with Stefanie to create something that walks with you through life, wherever the journey takes you.
Atelier Stefani https://atelierstefani.com/
Images by: Camila TorresVideo by: TwoStoryTellers