An artisanal conversation with Louis Lampertsdörfer, Founder and Bespoke shoemaker of Mogada Munich
Dear readers, since we were talking about German artisan lately, so why not keep this German artisanal works of art going, this time we are returning to Munich, to discover another young, emerging German bespoke shoemaker who makes exquisite bespoke, and ready-to-wear shoes for gentlemen. I stumbled across the German bespoke shoemaker named Mogada Munich by coincident when I spotted a post about ‘The World Championship In Shoemaking 2023’, which the Founder, Mr. Louis Lampertsdörfer, is the soul and artisan behind the brand, was one of the contestant who got the 3rd place in "The World Championship In Shoemaking 2023" in London.
Before establishing his own bespoke shoe label, Louis has taken an apprenticeship in the bespoke department at Gaziano Girling, a prestigious British bespoke shoemaker, in London, then become a full time Bespoke Shoemaker there for some time; with the passion and entrepreneurial spirit that Louis possessed, he decided to return to Munich, and founded his very own bespoke shoe brand. His bespoke shoes creation has been highly regarded by connoisseurs, men's classic shoes bloggers and discerning clients, with its refined quality in terms of craftsmanship, timelessly classic appeal, and discreet selection of premium leather for his shoes, the name Mogada Munich is undoubtedly one of the raising star in classic bespoke shoes field. Today, I am thrilled to invite this young German bespoke shoemaker to have a chat about his work, passion and something about the art of craftsmanship and lifestyle, let’s dive right in!
My Modern Darcy: Hi Louis, it’s great to have you with us today, and congratulations with your achievement in this year’s ‘The World Championship In Shoemaking 2023’, can you tell us a bit your experience about being in this championship? And how does it feel?
Louis Lampertsdörfer: It has been the second time I participated, the first time was in 2019 and sort of marked the end of my apprenticeship at Gaziano Girling, back then it was just a fun little side project to enter the competition and I felt very happy and humbled to make the 6th place back then, this year however I felt under more pressure since I now run my own business and potentially had a reputation to loose. Whenever entering a competition like this, I like to choose techniques and certain specifications for the shoe that are outside my comfort zone. This year the very fine sole-stiching and the horseshoe heel where something I hadn’t done before in this way. First it frightens you but it is truly rewarding to step outside the comfort zone and what I love most about this competition is how it
creates a platform for artisans form all over the world to meet and display their work.
MMD: Can you tell us what makes you so fascinated about bespoke shoes, and makes this as your career?
LL: Briefly, I think it is the personalities involved, the client's taste and personality, also of course the maker's fingerprint, this combination then creates something truly unique which is really special today. Every bespoke client usually has a certain idea of what they would like their shoes to be, and it is my job to transfer that into the final pair; how the client then wears the shoe, what they are combined with etc. makes it his pair. From a crafts perspective, I love how solid these shoes are built even though they might appear delicate and elegant, this makes them age in a beautiful way.
MMD: As you have been working for a reputed British bespoke shoemaker before, and spending time with some experienced mentors, can you tell us what have you learn during that period of time, that it still valuable to you until today?
LL: Many many things, I wouldn’t be where I am now and wouldn’t work the way I do without the training I had, I was very lucky that I was taken on as an apprentice in probably one of the best bespoke work shops in the world, and I was trained by Daniel Wegan, who then became world champion and can probably be considered one of the best shoemakers on the planet, but also Tony Gaziano and Dean Girling who shared their knowledge with me, for example, Dean sat down to show me how he finishes shoes, which was very interesting to see for me because it was a different approach that also created an amazing outcome.
MMD: Some shoe makers like to work in an established brand, you choose to establish your own house, can you tell us what motivates you to do so?
LL: I like the freedom and being my own boss, it has always been my dream to set up my own brand. Even though I can now better understand the challenges my former employers had and confronted with, I am still very happy I chose this path.
MMD: Let’s talk about Mogada Munich, the bespoke shoes brand that you founded, can you tell us what makes Mogada Munich unique? Do you have any "house style", or what are the signature bespoke shoes of yours?
LL: I think every shoemaker has their own style, and this automatically creates a sort of uniqueness in their work. I think to name a "house style" or a signature bespoke style it is yet too early (for the brand), this is the third year since founding Mogada Munich, and I would leave it to my customers to turn one style into a shoe that makes the brand recognizable. So far the „Corinth“, the full brogue Oxford from the ready-to-wear collection, which is based on my competition shoe from the 2019 championships, seems to be a favorite both for bespoke and ready-to-wear, but as the collection grows, this might still change.
MMD: Compare with the classic British bespoke shoes style, in your opinion, what are the distinction between the classic British style and the German one?
LL: That’s difficult as there’s only very few bespoke shoe makers working in Germany, and they all have their own style I would say, often depending where they were trained. The bespoke shoe-making craft, unfortunately, isn’t as dynamic in Germany as it is in other countries; my customers often call my style as the European version of British shoe-making, which I really like.
MMD: In your opinion, how do you define a pair of well-made bespoke shoes?
LL: The comfort is always first, if the shoe isn’t comfortable and the customers won’t wear them much, it's not a good bespoke shoe in my opinion, then of course, it comes the look, I always try to achieve a harmonic and balanced look. Sometimes the key is to not have the sharpest toe shape, or the most narrow wait line, even though a shoe like this might look stunning on its own, it is more important that the shoe looks good and well proportioned when worn. And this of course always depends on the customer's taste but also my interpretation.
MMD: Besides bespoke shoes, you also offer ready-to-wear collection which you worked with manufacture in northern Italy and even Vienna, and I realized that you have a very smart idea to maintain the cost the lowest possible, yet offering the best quality of shoes alternative to clients, can you elaborate more about the purpose behind? And how does it beneficial to your brand? Why not simply focus on the bespoke version only but also ready-to-wear one? Will that compete to your own product offerings?
LL: I started Mogada Munich in February 2020, one month before the first COVID lockdown, and then later, I had many requests from people that liked my shoes but neither wanted them bespoke nor had we the possibility to meet up in person back then, so I started developing the idea of a collection of shoes that were as close as possible to how my bespoke shoes are made, but available in sizes. Making good ready-to-wear shoes is a challenge of its own, especially when it comes to consistency, but it just seemed logical to me to also offer that to my customers; I am currently preparing a made-to-order / made-to-measure option, to still take into account to the individual needs for those customers that don’t want to go through the full bespoke process. In terms of cost, I try to save where I can, for example, not having a brick-and-mortar store in Munich where the rents are relatively high, rather, spending that on having the best quality possible available. So far I think my customers cherish this approach and I am quite happy with it too.
MMD: To establish a young emerging brand usually faces different kind of challenges, can you share some of the experience that you had, what challenges have you encountered, and how did you overcome them?
LL: I think it depends a bit on the approach, I chose to grow Mogada Munich organically without an investor for example, it is entirely self-funded and I don’t need to report to anyone, that gives me a lot
of freedom and the possibility to not make compromises when it comes to quality whenever I think that is necessary. On the other hand, it is more difficult to source high quality skins (leather) if your (business or brand is) smaller, and couldn’t order the same amounts as those larger companies do. I think as a small brand, it can be harder to offer a great selection of products and models right away, but I can make that up by having direct contact with my clients, and taking the time for them.
MMD: With the dress-down and fast fashion culture that we are living in now, how did you see the value of existence of classic bespoke shoes for men, in particular the art, the craftsmanship and
the creation? Why is that matter to you or even to the world of refined menswear?
LL: When it comes to bespoke shoes, I can’t really say that there is a noticeable turn towards more casual styles, at least to me. My bespoke clients still order mostly classic elegant styles, for ready-to-
wear, I have more and more requests for loafers now which is why that will be the next addition to the range. I think the more people will dress more casual, bespoke hand made shoes will become even more special and cherished by everyone with a passion for classic menswear and craftsmanship.
MMD: Now let’s talk about yourself, can you let us know who is your favorite men’s style icon or artisan that you look up to? Or what men’s fashion style that inspires you deeply to your work?
LL: That's hard to say as I don’t really have someone I look up to when it comes to dressing, but I definitely have some shoemakers who’s work that I admire, of course, Daniel Wegan, also my time at Gaziano Girling, which they have a big impact on me and my work, but I also admire TYE Shoemaker from Japan, or Hidetaka Fukaya who works in Florence.
MMD: Can you tell us a bit of your personal style? What is your favorite ensemble of the day?
LL: Recently I really like the combination of a dark blue jacket and dark grey pants, I know this is as classic as it gets, but I’m starting to cherish it more and more, with black or dark brown shoes and a
MMD: If someone comes to you one day and ask you how to become a successful bespoke shoemaker, what is your advice?
LL: Work hard and try to get an apprenticeship at a good workshop, that's really what makes the difference. If you’re at a good workshop but you don’t put the hours in it, it's going to be hard, but also, if you work hard yet without guidance in the beginning, it can make things very hard too.
Special thanks to Mr. Louis Lampertsdörfer.
Image courtesy of Mogada Munich.