Lauren Brinkers Proves That Shoes Express More Than We Think
Lauren Brinkers, Owner
I'm Lauren Brinkers, a shoemaker and artist living and working in Brooklyn, New York. I trained formally at Cordwainers shoemaking school in London, learned first hand on the job with factory workers in Hackney, bespoke shoemakers on Saville Row, and cobblers in New York City. I've been practicing now for what seems like quite a while, about 13 years. Shoemaking is about people, about objects in the real world, putting in the time to get to know the leather and what can and can't be done.
New York is full of great museums and galleries- wonderful art and interesting people offering endless inspiration. A lot of my painting style I picked up just looking at paintings here. I love the immediacy and spontaneity of abstract expressionist painters from the late 60s. Painting is the opposite of longform shoemaking that originates in design, so it's really sets me free. I also really love the landscape of the American West- the palate and patterns you find out there are mind blowing.
I make hand-painted, handmade one-of-a kind shoes and boots. They're made with buttery soft vegetable-tanned leather, selected and sourced by me, painted with eco friendly dyes I mix myself. The minimalist silhouette allows for the painting- a passion of mine that came from a need to experiment freely with color.
I started making shoes officially in 2007, but I've had a thing for them for as long as I can remember. In college I chopped up vintage boots and broke several sewing machines trying to customize new styles for my friends. After my first class in New York my teacher told me about Cordwainers shoe making college in London, and that was it. I attended the following year and haven't stopped since. I tried a job in fashion upon my return to New York and realized quickly that I wanted to forge a completely new path for myself, bridging the gap between art and craft. I wanted to make a collection of shoes that I had dreamt of wearing myself, one that was entirely original and my own.
I believe objects can have a kind of aura or soul, you can feel when someone made something with their hands and you can feel the care someone puts into their work. Although shoemaking might be seen now a utilitarian or practical thing, I think there's more possibility for expression that can come through. I know I'm dreaming big here but it's expressiveness itself that I hope is different about my shoes, both in the way people express themselves as they wear them and through the act of making them, expressing some part of myself and my values.
My favorites are ones that I have complete artistic freedom on. It's so satisfying for me to break the rigid rules of pattern-making in footwear with the paintings- big broad strokes, pools of unexpected color. I love rebellion!