It’s hard not to be intrigued by Wootten. Inside the studio in Richmond, the first thing you notice is the rich smell of leather; then the sound of intermittent metal banging from the cordwainers in the warehouse out back.
A large dark wooden desk sits in the middle of the space, which is lit by hanging light bulbs. An antique Singer sewing machine sits on an old wooden shelf near an even older-looking typewriter. Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling Good’ plays faintly.
It’s here that all of Wootten’s fine leather goods are made: overnight bags, belts, wallets, key rings, suspenders, bowties, laptop sleeves, aprons, cushion, and the brand’s bread and butter: hand-crafted leather shoes.
Wootten is run by second-generation cordwainer Jess Cameron-Wootten, a trained shoemaker with roots in industrial design. The store, which has been Jess is enthralled by the world of ‘slow fashion’, a movement focused on sustainable, timeless and high-quality fashion. With today’s mainstream fashion industry relying heavily on globalised mass production where garments are churned out and sold at dirt-cheap prices, Wootten is putting that churn on hold. They're not selling a brand; they're selling a genuine lifestyle.
Jess and his shoemaking team take their time to craft and create distinctive pieces for each customer, all the way from the initial consultation and design to the measuring, making, cobbling, stitching and final fitting.
Prices reflect this, as does the quality. Staff know their stuff and will be able to provide expert advice on caring for your goods, right down to the exact leather protector to buy to keep them spick and span.