We were promised a tour of the Mascaró shoe factory in Ferreries, Menorca, but it didn’t materialize. So happily, we clamored down a small metal stairase and wandered the factory floor ourselves. Over here, metal bins of shoe forms and plastic heels that reminded us of Pedro Almodovar. There, a woman working on her machine, sewing butter-soft leather, chatting with a man with a paintbrush and glue. Each was doing his or her job in a relaxed atmosphere, as if it were a studio in a fantastic art school in the middle of a Mediterranean island.
The ballerinas, chic sandals and boots they produce, under the labels Pretty Ballerinas and Mascaró, are high end and sold in fancy high streets in London and Paris. The owners/designers, Jaime and Ursula Mascaró, decided to make use of the long-honed artisanry and knowledge of shoemaking and maintain the factory their grandfather started in Ferreries, on the Spanish island of Menorca.
“It’s my dream to work in a place like that,” sighed my 15-year-old. It made work look arty and fun.
The men in the photo from 1918 began a factory of cutting and sewing and stitching – because dancers needed special shoes. Ballerinas needed ballet shoes, flamenco dancers needed flamenco shoes. Nearly one hundred years later artisans still work with their hands making functional (and fetish) objects of quality and beauty. They’re not alienated from production, their fellow workers or homes. Long live the shoemaker! Long live sandals, stilettos, peep toes, and every fetish in between. On Labor Day, here’s a salute to doing satisfying work. Nice work if you can get it.