What does it mean to be "handmade"

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We have noticed that there is a growing problem in our industry - brands using the term "handmade" with no real proof that anything about their product is handmade. The term "handmade" has become a marketing catchword even if there is very little or no truth behind the claim.

There is nothing more important to us than the authenticity of our footwear. The Rancourt family has been making handsewn shoes in Lewiston, ME continuously for three generations. Our process has remained virtually unchanged and we believe it is worthy of the term "handmade".

To us, handmade means crafting a product with the utmost care and using traditional techniques and hand tools to accomplish our goals. Our shoes are lasted using simple hand tools like tacks, pliers, and shoemaking hammers. The handsewers can adjust the fit of the leather on the last with their hands, helping to mold the leather to the last based on their years of training and experience. Our calfskin dress shoes go through a multi-step process of antiquing and burnishing that give them a brilliant finish. The edges on our leather soles are inked using small horsehair brushes and the careful yet steady hand of a skilled craftsperson. Throughout our process the shoes are guided by the skilled hands of experienced shoemakers.

The authentic use of the term handmade is important to us, it means something, and it should be cherished. It celebrates the hard work and dedication that it takes to learn a skill like shoemaking - and to dilute the significance of this term by sticking it on cheap, disposable goods is just wrong.

The Art of the Handsewn from Rancourt & Co. on Vimeo.

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