I just love perusing through Etsy sometimes, and looking at the favorite shops and items of my favorite sellers…you never know what new awesomeness you might find! It just blows my mind how some of these amazing brands don’t get the recognition they deserve, but that, as I’m sure you know, is one main point of my blog. Every year after feeling fresh and inspired by the open and limitless creativity behind Lucidity Festival (and the vendors, especially), I’m always digging even deeper into the nooks and crannies of the internet to find even more independent artists to feature here or inspire me into any possible future creative ventures. There is some ridiculously impressive stuff out there!
One of my most recent finds is Soul Path Shoes, a Canadian brand run by artisan Nathan deBridge Bowes, who specializes in custom moccasins and sandals. I mean, these pieces speak for themselves…just look at the detailing! Long ago, Nathan was inspired by searching far and wide for the perfect handmade artisan footwear that was unique, comfortable and natural, to no avail. So, he was inspired to venture on his own path into creating his own, and mirrors genuine ancient practices and pours a ton of love, patience and skill into his work. From sharpening and maintaining his his tools (like tuning an instrument, as he says) to taking the risk of tedious custom fitting, Nathan stays true to his strong beliefs on the real value of old fashioned hard work, quality and customer satisfaction which is becoming more of a rarity these days.
Nathan uses supersoft 8-9 ounce buffalo leather for the main body and trim of his footwear which is 2-3 times thicker than regular leather. He also implements a traditional moccasin full leather outer sole with a Vibram rubber sole as an option, and a removable insole of wool felt and orthotic cushioning on a leather base. Every item comes with your choice of buttons (with several beautiful metal pieces to choose from) and main color, trim and heel cap colors. Other options include additional arch support, extra trim layers, added piping, leather or Arbutus wood buttons, cuffs, other custom artwork, and so much more! How gorgeous are these?! For the amount of work and custom options put into these, I’d say they are also priced incredibly well, at around $300-$600 before any custom options are included. Honestly, I’d just buy what I see right off the virtual racks.
Here are some of the moccasins and boots that catch my eyes the most from Soul Path Shoes! As usual with most of these talented artisans I discover, it was tough to narrow it down.
“For years I searched for real artisan footwear. I knew what I was looking for: A handmade leather sandal, shoe, boot or moccasin that was unique, natural, and comfortable; classic leather footwear with timeless beauty and functional elegance. Where did I find it? I found the heart of the craft in the pride of craftsmen of days gone by, I found ideas in the functional designs of ancient civilizations… But no one I could find was making what I longed to find. Or at least not yet… It was then I knew I was on the right path, a path of discovery and creation, and a path with Soul.”
“I love the work I have chosen to do… It is a pleasure for me to work with beautiful, soft leather, and to feel a good tool in my hands as I connect with an ancient tradition of sandal, boot, and moccasin making. I love old, quality tools, and handmade tools and knives the most, as they ring with quality and carry the energy of the maker.”
“It is a skill to learn to sharpen a blade for the task at hand; akin to tuning an instrument – it cultivates patience and presence of mind, and good work may be produced only once the tool is finely honed, as good music will only be produced once the instrument is finely tuned.”
“Making good footwear is difficult, and a custom fitting is more demanding still. One need not wonder for long why this trade and these skills have nearly disappeared – it is hard work, and risky in this day and age. So I am taking the risk of doing what I believe in because I know the value of real quality, and in this modern desert where people are beginning to feel the thirst for quality, some of us are creating an oasis.”
Take a look into the beautiful artistry that makes up Soul Path Shoes.