Made in London: Allan Baudoin

This is the latest in our Made in London series of films about London-based makers by filmmaker William Scothern. This month’s video is about shoemaker Allan Baudoin. Originally trained in computer science with a Masters Degree in business, this former Apple employee became an independent shoemaker out of a desire to do something with his hands and re-connect with a traditional craft.

Born and raised in Paris, Allan moved to London in 2007. He took a pair of shoes to be repaired one day and discovered that the man who repaired them also made shoes. They get talking and soon a business partnership was formed. “I said, okay, if you can make these shoes, I’ll just handle the business and everything will be easy,” he says. “It just turns out, it’s not at all like this.”

He soon found himself getting involved in the making side of the business too. “I started this company not knowing how to make shoes,” he says. “I was so much into computers and not doing anything with my hands, that it appealed a lot. I spent two years in the workshop, looking and helping my own shoemakers – and the rest is mostly self-taught.”

Allan believes people increasingly want to know where the things they are buying come from. “The idea of knowing the maker is always a big thing for the customer. Customers follow makers, they don’t follow the brand.”

The quality of his product speaks for itself, and this is down to his almost relentless pursuit of perfection. “You’re never really happy with your product,” he says. “You will always see the thing you didn’t do perfectly. I like making them perfect, so I’m always the last person to work on them. It’s never going to be perfect, but you go to a certain level where imperfection is going to be imperceptible and that’s where you can stop.”

Katie Treggiden is a purpose-driven journalist, author and, podcaster championing a circular approach to design – because Planet Earth needs better stories. She is also the founder and director of Making Design Circular, a program and membership community for designer-makers who want to join the circular economy. With 20 years' experience in the creative industries, she regularly contributes to publications such as The Guardian, Crafts Magazine and Monocle24 – as well as being Editor at Large for Design Milk. She is currently exploring the question ‘can craft save the world?’ through an emerging body of work that includes her fifth book, Wasted: When Trash Becomes Treasure (Ludion, 2020), and a podcast, Circular with Katie Treggiden.