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Calgary duo makes vintage style shoes entirely by hand

From start to finish, each pair takes about a week to create

Calgarian Darren Stefanyshyn shoes off his handmade footwear at one of the company’s pop-up shop events. Each pair of shoes takes about a week to make.

Aaron Chatha / Metro

Calgarian Darren Stefanyshyn shoes off his handmade footwear at one of the company’s pop-up shop events. Each pair of shoes takes about a week to make.

Two Calgary shoe designers are taking a step back in footwear foundations.

Darren Stefanyshyn and Terri Garland are the souls behind DSign Step, which exclusively offers hand-made shoes.

No assembly lines here – each shoe is meticulously put together, and takes about a week to create.

“When you put your hands on a shoe, you can actually mould it around the last to make sure the fit is perfect,” explained Stefanyshyn. “When you’re doing things on a mass production scale, basically the machines just don’t have the finesse that a pair of hands does.”

A last is like a model of the shoe’s shape, and all the fabrics and materials are sewn together to fit the last as tight as possible. It gives shape and structure to the shoe, in a process Stefanyshyn said is more art than science. The mould is completed when the base is glued on, and finished off with the heel or other flourishes. In-between, there are periods where the shoe needs to sit for the glue to dry.

Stefanyshyn has always had a passion for shoes. He’s currently a biomechanics professor at the University of Calgary, specifically in footwear, but he’s also worked for companies like Nike, Reebok and Fila.

He wanted to take that knowledge of athletic footwear, and apply it to more fashion-focused footwear.

Terri Garland designed the shoes with a vintage look.

Aaron Chatha / Metro

Terri Garland designed the shoes with a vintage look.

The design side of the process is handled by his partner Garland – who favours a more vintage flair.

“It’s timeless, classic – it never goes out of style,” she said. “I’m very practical, so when I look for something, I want it to last for a long time. The handmade shoe, in a vintage style, just fits.”

The pair does use modern techniques, meaning they can produce old style shoes, but with printed leathers or laser-etched designs that would be been impossible decades ago.

They've also travelled the world to find artisans, who helped create their handcrafted designs.

DSign Step is often kicking it at their pop up events, but you can still get tied up at their website www.dsignstep.com.

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