Handcrafted in Maine: A Sperry Shoemaker Shares His Craft

August 1, 2018
in Design

We caught up with shoe designer, David Nau, to learn more about his craft and the time-honored tradition of locally made products.

What do you love about the art of shoemaking, and what piqued your interest in becoming a shoe designer?
When I was 10 years old, I decided I wanted to design cars and learned about the field of industrial design (product design). As I got older, I still wanted to create products, and after winning an internship at a leading footwear brand, I found that I loved designing shoes. It had all the excitement of designing other products, but with an added fashion element and a fast-paced timeline.
Along with many other products of trade, why do you think shoemaking is a dying art?
I wouldn’t say it’s dying, it’s just evolving. The last 10-20 years have brought tons of innovation to footwear with advancements in materials and compounds, molding techniques, computerized knitting, 3D printing, etc. But all of these advancements and technology can sometimes make you appreciate the classic, heritage-based type of shoes that a true artisan creates.
What are the benefits of Made in America, and why do you think it’s important to foster this idea?
There’s this handcrafted attention to detail that you get in these authentic factories of Maine, where everything is still done by hand, with an “old world” way of art and craft. It gives the shoes an extra level of care and finesse, and even an individuality, that becomes apparent the second you pull them out of the box.
What other Made in America brands and products inspire you?
I was blown away when I found out that we were going to ship more of our Made in Maine shoes outside of the U.S. than we would sell here. There’s a certain pride that any Made in America product gives me; It’s knowing that we still have the expertise and ability to provide great products, not only for ourselves but also for those around the world who still appreciate something special.
What makes this collection so special? What details were added to make the product unique?
We are really proud that these are Made in America, so we added some subtle red, white and blue stitching on the handsewn moc and inside the shoe on the footbed. Another thing that makes these products special is that nearly all the materials and components still come from within the U.S., with some of those suppliers founded as early as 1863 and 1905. (Horween 1905, Auburn 1863, Tasman 1947, Maine Thread 1965.)
Why did you choose the Authentic Original Boat Shoe and the 1-Eye Driver?
The A/O is our most iconic shoe, and for decades, our icon was made in Maine—it seemed like the appropriate place to start. The 1-Eye Driver is another iconic handcrafted moccasin that provides a wonderful complement to the boat shoe.

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