For our artisan Andrea Cassai being a shoe craftsman is not about work, but about passion. He talks to us on the art of shoemaking.
We interviewed several artisans for our blog. Andrea is the first artisan we interview, though, who works at Fratelli Borgioli.
He has been working at Fratelli Borgioli for a few years, but his passion and enthusiasm allowed him to learn quickly.
We met Andrea and asked him some questions about his work and what it means to be a craftsman.
How can a job be first of all a passion? Let’s find out what he told us!
Questions For Andrea Cassai, Shoe Artisan
- Hi! Could you please introduce yourself and tell us something about yourself?
- Have you always thought of being an artisan?
- What does it mean for you to be a craftsman?
- How long have you been working for Fratelli Borgioli and in which roles?
- Today what is your specialization within the company?
- We know you are also involved in Goodyear processing. What’s it about?
- What are the most difficult techniques to learn in your trade?
- What role does technology play in your profession today, and in your opinion can tradition and innovation coexist?
- In your opinion, is there still room for craft traditions in Italy? Are they preserved in any way?
- What are the strengths of the Fratelli Borgioli shoes?
- Tell us about a particular moment you experienced in your work as a craftsman.
- What shoe model did you like the most to work on? For what reason?
- What advice would you give to those who want to pursue your profession?
#1. Hi! Could you please introduce yourself and tell us something about yourself?
Hi, I’m Andrea Cassai, I’m 30 years old. I balance my life between work and family – I had the joy of becoming a father 5 months ago.
#2. Have you always thought of becoming an artisan?
I studied hotel and catering operations, and I actually never thought I would be an artisan before I got the chance to work at Fratelli Borgioli. When I started working here, though, I realized that I had the opportunity to create something beautiful with my own hands. Since then, I’ve been passionate about it, and I’ve been exploring all the aspects of shoe creation.
#3. What does it mean for you to be a craftsman?
Having a passion for what I do. This is not a job but fun. It’s a wonderful feeling starting with semi-finished products and, after your intervention, finding yourself with a finished product ready to be sold.
#4. How long have you been working for Fratelli Borgioli and in which roles?
From May 2017 I started working in maneuvers, covering the simplest jobs at the beginning, because I had to learn everything, even how to hold a shoe with the shape.
But quite quickly, thanks to the teaching of older workers, I moved on to more complicated and important jobs, because if something is wrong you risk damaging the shoe and having to throw it away.
#5. Today what is your specialization within the company?
I play a leading role in the shoe construction process. My job consists in processing the upper when it is already put on last.
In case the shoes have a simple sole construction, I scratch the lower part of the shoe to prepare them for the next production step during which the sole will be glued to the upper.
In case the shoes have a Goodyear construction, I am in charge of the whole process of sole construction, including blake rapid stitching necessary to attach the sole to the welt.
#6. We know you are also involved in Goodyear processing. What’s it about?
Goodyear construction implies the usage of the welt made out of soft leather which is attached on the whole length of the shoe. I stitch the welt under the edge of the shoe to join the upper, the lining and the insole.
Then I stitch the lower part of the welt to attach the sole. The space between the insole and the sole is filled with soft material and special filling material that gives a very pleasant fit to the shoe.
#7. What are the most difficult techniques to learn in your trade?
The blake and blake rapid stitching and the trimming of the sole. These processes are considered difficult to be executed because manual skills are very important. Moreover, there is little space for mistakes. It is easy to damage the upper or the sole of the shoes. We often produce shoes in exotic skins or in hand coloured leather. Such shoes have high economic value and we cannot afford to damage them.
#8. What role does technology play in your profession today, and in your opinion can tradition and innovation coexist?
Technology supports my work. The Goodyear sewing that I do by machine was once done by hand. A person could not make more than three pairs of shoes a day. I work on a modern computerized machine, which performs the usual type of sewing that was done by hand, guaranteeing a constant and faster result.
#9. In your opinion, is there still room for craft traditions in Italy? Are they preserved in any way?
If you find a company like Fratelli Borgioli, there is still room because such a company gives young people the opportunity to learn from older artisans.
But I realize that there are less and less realities around that value the knowledge of craftsmen.
#10. What are the strenghts of the Fratelli Borgioli shoes?
The quality of the handmade shoe. Just think that from when you start from cutting the leather to when a shoe is put in the box for delivery, it is picked up about 300 times by 40 different people.
So each shoe has a unique and unrepeatable story. Each shoe has inside the soul of those who participated in creating it, and it will be different from the next.
Despite this, we are able to guarantee a constant quality of the product.
#11. Tell us about a particular moment you experienced in your work as a craftsman.
There are many. One in particular, when the elderly craftsman was teaching me, at one point he told me: “Andrea, you give me satisfaction”.
#12. What shoe model did you like the most to work on? For what reason?
The style I like the most is the Wholecut Patina Coloured Lace-up.
This style is a top notch shoe for the following reasons: the shape is beautiful, the style is elegant, it is made out of one piece of leather with one stitching on the back part.
The sole construction is entirely made by me, including stitching of the welt, closings, putting filling material, attaching the sole and stitching with blake rapid technology. There are few workers who can execute so many complicated processes.
#13. What advice would you give to those who want to pursue your profession?
Find a company that gives you the opportunity to learn this profession, and I recommend that you try. In the beginning, it will be hard because the steps of a single shoe are so many and it may seem difficult. Growing in your expertise, you will understand that you have a job in your hands that few are able to do, and you can have your say, expressing your value.
We thank Andrea who gave us the opportunity to take a look inside the Fratelli Borgioli’s shoemaking process.