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Technical Terms: Cordwainer

  • Najib Benouar

via ACL

Even the most well-versed man of style can still learn something new. Case in point: a cordwainer is not a cobbler. A cobbler is not a cordwainer. It’s an important distinction. But that doesn’t mean we’re going to be using the word in polite company...

As you surely remember, last week we interviewed Maine’s new hotshot shoemaker, Kyle Rancourt. In the title, we proclaimed him a rising star in the cobbling world. As a reader kindly pointed out, Kyle is a cordwainer (the traditional term for a shoemaker), not a cobbler (the traditional term for a shoe repairman). It’s a subtle distinction and one that’s been eroding over time—now that big labels often outsource their lines entirely, and most off-the-shelf shoes aren’t worth repairing—people forgot who was doing what when it came to their footwear.

We’ll probably stick to “shoemaker” in casual conversation (and writing), but the next time we’re looking for a quirky turn of phrase from the past, rest assured “cordwainer” is high on the list.

Meet Rising Star Cordwainer, Kyle Rancourt

  • Najib Benouar

Our comrades in style over at UrbanDaddy Perks recently teamed up with Maine’s most sought-after cobblers, Rancourt & Co., to offer a few exclusive styles of their boat shoe and ranger mocs—each of which comes in a chili pebble-grain upper or a suede that looks a lot like our favorite malbec. And we had the opportunity to catch up with Kyle Rancourt, third-generation cobbler and all-round stand-up guy, to talk footwear.

Here’s what he had to say about flip-flops, his favorite boots and the secrets to why shoes made in Maine are better...»