The London Super Trunk Show 2023
Written by: Jesper of Shoegazing with edits and addendums by myself.
The London Super Trunk Show 2023 is complete – another amazing shoe day to remember. Almost 1,300 visitors came to the event last Saturday and explored the shoe offerings from the 10+ exhibitors, second-hand shoes, shoe care, and accessories, plus followed the three world championships contests.
Here’s a substantial summary of the day:
It was the busiest event to date. There was more consistent foot traffic than ever from visitors (despite a train strike which may have affected locals a bit) who also in many cases had traveled in from around the world. Also, people seemed to stick around the event longer, talking to each other, spending time with the exhibitors, and so on. The atmosphere in the venue on 12 Regent Street, almost as central as one can be in London, was lovely the whole day. It was bustling and you could feel it. I, as well as Jesper of Shoegazing, who both organize the event, were really grateful for this turnout.
The Patina contest of The London Super Trunk Show 2023 kicked off 15 minutes after opening when the three patina finalists sat down at their tables to transform a pair of crust TLB Mallorca Artista shoes into something spectacular. At the event, they use Saphir leather dyes, creams, and waxes to complete their magic. The finalists this year were Alberto Suastez from the US, Rod Baudry from France, and his countryman Philippe Yang. The latter took the crown after five hours of work throughout the day, with an incredible patina job that had both contrast, depth, and finely executed details. Also, the other finalist’s work was of high class, with different styles. You can read more about the finalists, in this article.
In the afternoon it was time for the fifth edition of the World Championships of Shoe Shining. Always a spectacular happening, and the crowd was huge in front of the stage. The three finalists – Paul Black from Northern Ireland, Japanese Naoki Hayashida, and Albert Gjukaj from Switzerland – had 20 minutes to use their Saphir Medaille d’Or waxes and shine the Loake 1880 Aldwych shoe as neat, beautiful, and shiny as possible. Once again an Asian shoe shiner took the title, with Naoki Hayashida as champion in Shoe Shining 2023. You can read more about the contestants in this article.
Spread across two tables greeting the people as they entered the venue were 29 bespoke black balmoral boots. These were the entries of the World Championships of Shoemaking 2023. Surely a sight to behold. This marked the first time we had a boot to be made for the contest, which meant new challenges and opportunities for the shoemakers. We had participants that came from no less than 14 different countries around the world. The jury of shoemakers and shoe experts, who met during the afternoon before the event to judge the works, awarded the French bespoke maker Athanase Sephocle (who works for Berluti) the gold medal. Second place went to Victor Vulpe of Romania, and third to Louis Lampertsdörfer of Germany. Gladly, the two latter makers were both present at the award ceremony to collect their prizes.
The trio will share a prize sum of £6,000 which comes from contest sponsors Kirby Allison, Master Shoemakers, and Parker Schenecker, brother of shoe enthusiast Edmund Schenecker who sadly passed away two years ago. The three winners also get a handmade shoemaking awl made by Phil Norsworthy. You can see more of the top three in this article, and much more of them and all the other contest shoes will come in two huge articles later on (it takes a lot of time to put that together though, so bear with me). An incredibly high level of competition from the top three, both in terms of difficulty, execution, and creativity. These shoes along with the patina winner will go on a world tour later this year, will be more info about that coming as well.
New for this year was a second-hand shoe marketplace, where Abbot’s Shoes had brought more than 100 pairs of their quality second-hand shoe collection. Some visitors also brought shoes to have them sold on-site, which added even more value to their offering. This marketplace surely was an appreciated addition. Partner Bresciani, from Italy, showcased a range of their absolute top-class socks, versions in cotton, silk, and wool, in conservative classic styles as well as bold ones. The main event partner, Saphir, had a nice updated display where they showcased their Saphir Medaille d’Or shoe cream and wax polish range with open jars, giving visitors both a better view of the color ranges as well as a better feel for the quality of the products. Saphir, together with Marc of Bowbells Shoeshine, offered a much appreciated free shoe shining service throughout the day, where the line at times was quite long.
Yearn made their first appearance for The London Super Trunk Show 2023, and many visitors were impressed by their fully handmade shoes with sleek silhouettes and fine designs. They are still located in the midrange price segment despite the high level of making. Next to them, Bridlen from India had their table, with their classic classy shoes with old-school welting directly to the insole, and what was nice is that now with the second time participating, they had a bunch of sales to people who got acquainted with them last year and finally took the plunge. From Hungary, we had Attila, a merging of traditional Austro-Hungarian styles and rather bold modern stuff, fully handmade at great prices.
CNES from Vietnam has established itself as one of the best bang-for-the-buck brands out there, with Goodyear welted and hand welted shoes at an impressive price tag, with a wide range of styles and last shapes. Talking about bang-for-the-buck, one of the quickest growing brands in Japan is Raymar, also offering Goodyear and hand welted at excellent prices, more British in style and also it turned out with their international lasts working getting much praise for a good fit by the visitors. The Noble Shoe, based out of Sweden, showcased Carlos Santos shoes, some Italian goodies from Enzo Bonafè and Paolo Scafora, plus other stuff like the first samples of shoes under its own brand.
At every super trunk, we also try to showcase shoes also of the absolute highest level. This is why Catella, the brand of former world champ Daniel Wegan and now also Sam Norsworthy who works with Daniel, was present, with among the best bespoke shoes in the world. The specialized UK premium sneaker brand Goral showed that sneakers can also be crafted in a good way with fine materials, they are Blake stitched with real leather lasting boards and felt filler, then sidewall stitched to the cup soles. Finally, we had Acme, who already has marveled the world with their basically bespoke standard RTW, now they also introduced the slightly simpler, more affordable Marvel range. For those who wonder, Paul Sargent sadly had to pull out of the event at a very late stake.
Now Jesper and I will switch focus to the premiere New York edition of the super trunk show on October 14th, 2023, but of course, the London event will be back again next spring, we look forward to seeing you all again then!
At the bottom, you’ll also find the live stream videos from the three world champs contests as well as a tour around the venue.