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Featured Shop: Tamar Shalem

Nov 18, 2013

by Tamar Shalem

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

My name is Tamar Shalem, and I design and make shoes here in Tel Aviv, Israel.

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My shoe-making story starts during my first year of industrial design studies at Shenkar College: I had to design a sandal as part of a school project, so I came up with a collection of shoes made from fresh fruits and vegetables. I enjoyed working on it so much that I couldn’t wait for my four years of studies to be over so I could make more shoes! When I graduated from college, I got married and decided to make my own bridal shoes. I made a pair of nice flats, but they broke apart in the middle of the event. Understanding that I had zero technical skills, I signed up for classes at The Guild to learn more.

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I select and test all of my materials to make sure they are sustainable and durable, and I am constantly looking for new materials to work with. I examine every piece of leather to see how it feels because I believe shoes should be comfortable – not just pretty. I like buying a small stock of unique leather and letting it inspire me. The number of shoes I make in one style is often a result of the quantity of leather I have, and most of my designs are limited editions.

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I pick a theme for every season, which often changes during my design process. I start by sketching on my lasts and paper until something happens. This stage is impossible to explain in words, but when I know I have something, it’s one of the most exciting moments of the whole process. Once I have an idea, I cut a pattern and start sewing it and processing it in 3D. When it turns into a shoe prototype, I measure it on different feet to get feedback and make adjustments until the design is ready for production.

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I work with a family of shoemakers that have been producing shoes for nearly 40 years. All of my shoes are hand-sewn and assembled the old-fashioned way, with a lot of love and attention to the smallest details. Working with my manufacturer was not easy at first. I had to learn how to communicate with him in order to get what I was aiming for and also trust his technical skills and knowledge when he said a design could or could not be made, or had to be changed. Slowly, he’s started to understand my design wishes, and I’ve started to understand the production limitations.

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I spend about 3 days a weeks at the workshop, taking part in all production stages. The production of my shoes is very traditional: most of the stages require very simple hand tools and, of course, the craftsman’s skills. I believe that a major part of my product’s character is the fact that they come from a traditional production line, rather than a mass production one. Each and every shoe is designed and assembled by hand with full attention.

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I manage my Etsy shop as if it were an actual shop, rather than a virtual one. I treat my visitors as guests – as if we were meeting face-to-face – and assist them in every way I can, doing my best to offer them a great shopping experience before, during, and after the purchase. I am always honest in my answers to customers so they have a clear sense of what they are going to get. Many of my clients are returning customers, and a few of them have several pairs of my shoes. This is the greatest compliment of all and the reason why I love my job so much.

Studio and maker photographs by Gilad Bar Shalev.

Featured Shop Archive

Black leather oxford shoes, Grace
Black leather oxford shoes, Grace
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Black flat casual shoes, Grace
Black flat casual shoes, Grace
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Black ballerina shoes, Vicky, handmade leather flats
Black ballerina shoes, Vicky, handmade leather flats
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Yellow Pepita oxford shoes, Polly Jean flat leather womens shoes
Yellow Pepita oxford shoes, Polly Jean flat leather womens shoes
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Pointy Flat black leather handmade shoes / Stella shoes
Pointy Flat black leather handmade shoes / Stella shoes
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Yellow Pepita oxford shoes, Polly Jean
Yellow Pepita oxford shoes, Polly Jean
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Black casual flat shoes, Grace
Black casual flat shoes, Grace
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
White leather oxfords, Polly jean
White leather oxfords, Polly jean
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Black Chelsea boots with snake pattern
Black Chelsea boots with snake pattern
TamarShalem
$279.00 USD
Blue leather casual shoes, Grace
Blue leather casual shoes, Grace
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
White leather sandals, Vivian.
White leather sandals, Vivian.
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Blue leather flat shoes, Grace
Blue leather flat shoes, Grace
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Black summer sandals, Harper.
Black summer sandals, Harper.
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
black leather round toe flats, Camila.
black leather round toe flats, Camila.
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
custom order
custom order
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Stone white summer sandals, Vivian.
Stone white summer sandals, Vivian.
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Green flat casual shoes, Grace
Green flat casual shoes, Grace
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Black handmade oxford shoes, Polly Jean
Black handmade oxford shoes, Polly Jean
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Pointy flat lace up oxfords, Valerie blue
Pointy flat lace up oxfords, Valerie blue
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Pointy flat oxford shoes, Valerie pink
Pointy flat oxford shoes, Valerie pink
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Pointed toe oxford shoes, Valerie blue
Pointed toe oxford shoes, Valerie blue
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Black flat summer sandals, Vivian.
Black flat summer sandals, Vivian.
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Flat royal blue oxford shoes, Polly jean.
Flat royal blue oxford shoes, Polly jean.
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Black pointed toe sandals, Vivian.
Black pointed toe sandals, Vivian.
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Black leather casual shoes, Grace
Black leather casual shoes, Grace
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Gold leather oxford shoes, Polly Jean
Gold leather oxford shoes, Polly Jean
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Red summer shoes, Mia
Red summer shoes, Mia
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Turquoise open toe shoes, Mia
Turquoise open toe shoes, Mia
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Yellow leather shoes, Grace
Yellow leather shoes, Grace
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Custom order shoes by tamar shalem
Custom order shoes by tamar shalem
TamarShalem
$224.00 USD
Casual blue womens oxfords, Polly jean.
Casual blue womens oxfords, Polly jean.
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Black and white oxford shoes / B&W handmade flat leather shoes / Polly Jean by Tamar Shalem
Black and white oxford shoes / B&W handmade flat leather shoes / Polly Jean by Tamar Shalem
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Black ballerina shoes, Vicky, handmade leather flats
Black ballerina shoes, Vicky, handmade leather flats
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Yellow leather shoes, Grace , Handmade Oxford shoes
Yellow leather shoes, Grace , Handmade Oxford shoes
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Pointed toe oxford shoes, Valerie pink
Pointed toe oxford shoes, Valerie pink
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Brown leather flat shoes, Grace.
Brown leather flat shoes, Grace.
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Gold sandals, Harper.
Gold sandals, Harper.
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Black flat leather sandals, Harper.
Black flat leather sandals, Harper.
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Black and white oxford shoes / B&W handmade flat leather shoes / Polly Jean by Tamar Shalem
Black and white oxford shoes / B&W handmade flat leather shoes / Polly Jean by Tamar Shalem
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Black leather flats, Mia
Black leather flats, Mia
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Black leather oxford shoes, Polly Jean, handmade leather shoes
Black leather oxford shoes, Polly Jean, handmade leather shoes
TamarShalem
$189.00 USD
Turquoise leather shoes, Mia
Turquoise leather shoes, Mia
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Red leather open toe shoes, Mia
Red leather open toe shoes, Mia
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Summer sandals in green leather, Harper sandals.
Summer sandals in green leather, Harper sandals.
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Summer sandals in gold and white, Harper sandals.
Summer sandals in gold and white, Harper sandals.
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Yellow summer open toe shoes, Mia
Yellow summer open toe shoes, Mia
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Yellow leather flat summer shoes, Mia
Yellow leather flat summer shoes, Mia
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Casual leather shoes, Grace yellow flats.
Casual leather shoes, Grace yellow flats.
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Red leather round toe flats, Camila.
Red leather round toe flats, Camila.
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Yellow leather round toe flats, Camila.
Yellow leather round toe flats, Camila.
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Sky blue perfect summer flats, Camila.
Sky blue perfect summer flats, Camila.
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Black flat tie shoes, Polly jean oxfords
Black flat tie shoes, Polly jean oxfords
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
Yellow leather shoes, Grace
Yellow leather shoes, Grace
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD
White oxfords, Polly jean
White oxfords, Polly jean
TamarShalem
$198.00 USD

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