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Project Onward

Soul Searching with Oak Street Bootmakers

The son of a cobbler, Oak Street Bootmakers founder and design director George Vlagos is keeping Chicago fresh with handcrafted shoes and boots. In an industry where fast fashion is faster than ever, George preserves the fine art of shoemaking with traditional leather processes and designs that are built for a lifetime—with all parts American-made. For example: twenty-eight days and 89 separate processes later, Oak Street’s Chromexcel leather turns into soft, supple and durable leather that are transformed into George’s thoughtful designs. Growing up around his father’s shop, George learned the craft of shoemaking at a very young age and later became an apprentice to further perfect his skills. Watch as George talks about training with his father and keeping the heritage of fine shoemaking alive.