A red wine and a pair of Toni Taloni’s please
Ever drank a glass of wine surrounded by the sweet company of high quality handcrafted Toni Taloni shoes? I did. About a week ago (throwing in a little shmurda dance).
Antoon Van den Ecker - Toni Taloni
Since last Friday customers of bar Lucy can drink their espresso’s and beers while enjoying the Toni Taloni exhibition. The exhibition, in the rather vintage looking bar, displays the latest high quality handcrafted shoes designed by Antoon Van den Ecker. “Picture perfect” I thought to myself as I was already trying to figure out the shots I would take for this article. Before I did, I took the chance to have a little talk with Antoon and share some words about shoes, shoes, shoes and even bars.
TIA: What gave you the idea to exhibit your shoes in this bar?
Antoon: Camilla, the owner of this bar is actually a close friend of mine. Every month she sets her bar available to artists, like illustrators and tattooists, to exhibit their work. About half a year ago the thought crossed my mind to do the same for my shoe brand Toni Taloni. I already had a little collection of shoes I bring along to little market places but I decided to create a couple more. The more shoes I had to exhibit, the better. So I’ve worked really hard to finish the shoes I wanted to show during the exhibition and even arranged a photo shoot to give the exhibition that extra touch.
TIA: Can people buy the shoes that are displayed in the bar?
Antoon: They can if they want to. But I can replicate each and every pair. Better yet, customers actually get the opportunity to design their own shoes at my studio. When customers tell me they like a particular pair of shoes but have a different shoe size or prefer another texture or color, I’ll make another pair for them. I have one pair of lasts in different sizes, for both women and men, around which I tighten the leather to shape my shoes. I’m thinking about acquiring a new series of lasts with a flatter point, for larger fits and smaller fits. For now customers can choose from seven classic but timeless designs that are based on the shape of the last. Even the choice of colors, patterns and fabrics is left entirely to the customer. Great care is put in the process of designing the shoes. An appointment with the customer easily takes an hour and a half.
TIA: What made you so passionate about the craft of shoemaking?
Antoon: That’s a really difficult question to answer as the craft just happened to be in reach. I was trying to figure out what I would really love to do for a living. I had already done various jobs, but none of them gave me satisfaction. My then-girlfriend took me to an evening class in shoemaking, and ever since that moment I didn’t want to do anything else. It’s a fun and cool craft, not too hard on my back and I get to be creative with my hands. After having searched for quite some time, I found a job as a shoe repairman and a couple of years later I also started making my own shoes.
TIA: Could you confirm whether the classic handcrafted shoe is making a comeback?
Antoon: I believe so. People also pay more attention to the quality of shoes. It’s crazy however that some shoe brands that ought to deliver quality fail to represent what they stand for. I certainly don’t want to run down any brand, but I’ve noticed how one particular reputable brand went from good quality and high prices to plastic shoe soles and even higher prices. The result is that the longevity of the latter is heavily reduced.
TIA: How long should a pair of high quality shoes last?
Antoon: I’ve actually been trying to figure that out myself. I’ve been testing with my own shoes and I’ve been wearing my favorite pair for three years now. I really wore them every day. Even though they look a bit worn, they are still in very good shape. I’ve included them in my exhibition as proof of the quality I’m providing. I even believe that if you take good care of your shoes and rub them with shoe cream at least once a month, they could last a lifetime.
TIA: Do you only wear your own creations?
Antoon: I did, but it’s not so healthy to continuously walk around in one pair of shoes. As all my shoes have the same shape, it practically feels as if I’m always wearing the same shoes. So I recently bought me a pair of comfortable Nikes. It’s nice to have a change of feel when you mostly work standing up. Then again, I prefer wearing my classic shoes.
TIA: What’s the reason you’ve located your studio in Antwerp?
Antoon: There’s no particular reason actually. I ‘ve always lived in Antwerp so it was an obvious decision. Friends of mine had a large room available on the ground floor of their house. It was big enough to use it as a studio. However, since I’m planning to expand, I will soon move out to a shop-space with a showcase at the Grote Godaardstraat. It’s really the ideal place to continue my business.
TIA: Which other places in Antwerp, besides your studio, do you love to hang out?
Antoon: As for shoe stores, I really like going to Zappa. They sell high quality shoes in the most special colors and fabrics. Not the ordinary classic brown pair of shoes, but a little more fun. I also love going to Bar Lucy obviously. I’m actually a true barfly, my favorite hangouts are bars. I visit Het Been at Berchem on a regular base, but you can often spot me in Borgerhout at Café Mombasa and Bar Leon as well.
The Toni Taloni display at Bar Lucy will stay until the 17th of February.The address is Koepoortbrug 4, 2000 Antwerp
Do you want an original pair of Toni Taloni’s straight ahead?
Call +32473 62 98 76 to make an appointment.
text by Laetitia Sabiti aka miss pointcinque.com
Pics by Laetitia Sabiti aka miss pointcinque.com