barbara shaum was one of my happy discoveries as i was wandering the east village this fall. truly beautiful handcrafted leather goods can be found in this teeny tiny shop where barbara shaum designs and creates these leather goodies which she has been doing since 1954. the shop feels like stepping back in time, and i was really in awe of the belts, which are basic but gorgeous, and those cuffs pictured above.
barbara shaum is best known, however, for her hand made leather sandals which have been featured in places like italian vogue, esquire and gq. if you want a pair, your feet will be measured and you can pick from about 30 classic styles.
the painstaking custom work takes about three weeks, and the finished product costs somewhere between $300 and $600. according to the new york times, barbara shaum learned her craft from menalkas duncan, a nephew of isadora duncan.
barbara shaum herself is pretty incredible. at the age of 80, she continues to work 6 days a week, and has no plans to retire. spotlight magazine, which seems to be a german publication designed to help people learn english did a short interview with barbara recently if you want to hear her talk a little about her work. and i’m trying to get my hands on barbara leather a 10-minute short film directed by seth lind in 2005 which gets a little more in-depth with barbara’s history in new york including having been one of the first women to be served at mcsorley’s. barbara shaum ltd., 60 east 4th street between the bowery and 2nd avenue, manhattan, new york, 212.254.4250.