How Tracey Neuls Shoes Are Made | Process and Production | In Portugal
For the past two decades, Tracey Neuls has continued to design with an original and distinctive signature, an extension of her character and personal values. Combining both her creative and technical ability, she creates shoes that are unique and wearable, two things not often found together.
A little passion goes a long way. First it's important to remember that Tracey sculpts all the heel and toe shapes in clay from scratch, by herself. There is no design team, it is a beautifully concentrated vision from this one designer, who has a strong emotional, kinetic and rare approach to design, that creates shoes that are completely original with atelier quality.
Tracey's shoes were originally made in Italy, with her Italian atelier. Neuls recalls one Italian gent in particular who put his heart and his soul into his work – so much so that he created a groove in his tooth from repeatedly throwing the tacks into his mouth before putting them into the leather. Shoe making is a way of life and we continue to use small, family run factories. They embarked on making artisan footwear together in Portugal, where her shoes are still produced.
Developing all of our original components, starts with the shape that Tracey has sculpted herself. The practice of buying a ready made ‘fashion approved’ shape off the shelf is very foreign indeed. From the original form we create all the hidden internal components (at least 7 or more) and make sure that they are durable and stand the test of time. Comfort is a must. In this day and age women should be always be empowered, never impeded by pain causing footwear. All out footwear has a metal shank inside the sole, this is the sign of a good shoe, almost like the back bone of the sole that offers structure, comfort and support. Lower priced brands will leave this ingredient out.
The materials that we choose are also important. We use ethical Italian tanneries. Leather after all is a natural material, with natural variance and this is what makes the material so lovely. Over processing can make the leather uniform and plastic in feel – we prefer that leather looks like leather and embraces its natural irregularities. Shoes that patina well over time are true friends. Luxury Italian leathers are also used on both the uppers and the linings – no corners are cut when it comes to quality, inside or out.
Inspired by a shadow, the heel is covered in one piece from the upper down, eliminating any internal construction lines and celebrating the silhouette. Neuls was the first to pioneer this craftsmanship, it is very hard to produce and takes great skill from practiced ateliers.
Where possible, we celebrate the hand work of our makers. A hand-stitched N creates a secure the bar tack.
The way Neuls produces her footwear is very rare. We place importance on crafting the footwear within family run producers, using only quality materials from caring sources, creating timeless design that shuns a throw away culture.