Documentary on the Cydwoq shoe factory

As mentioned before, I'm a big fan of the beautiful handmade shoes from Cydwoq, who manufacture their wares to order in Los Angeles. Here's a short and beautiful documentary on their factory and manufacturing techniques.


  1. It’s lovely – a trip back in time to when stuff was made by hand in American sweatshops with no safety equipment visible on the workers. 

  2. It’s rare that there is a any sort of positive portrayal of people in the working class doing what millions of us used to do and were seen as a “value”. Nowadays the only jobs that seem to warrant anything portrayed in popular visual culture are Cops, Doctors, Lawyers,,,,
    Anyways, a beautiful Doc, with music by Ari Balouzian, who has done alot of music for some very cool Shorts..

    1. Forgot to mention that though I dig this Doc, I don’t think anyone working at CYDWOQ would ever be able to afford a pair of the products they craft,,, Surprise.

      1. I’ve heard that complaint — “The people who make Product X can’t afford Product X” — fairly often, but I don’t entirely understand it. It’d be one thing if they couldn’t afford shoes at all, but why should we expect that people assembling luxury goods ought to be wealthy enough to buy them? Particularly since paying them enough for that to happen would presumably drive the cost up and make it unaffordable again.

        1.  You say “complaint”– It was just an observation. Certainly, I would not expect anyone mounting diamonds at a De Beers factory to be able to afford a ring they mounted. I would say though (seeing as you brought it up) that the very reason these “luxury goods”, as you call them are considered such, is because they are hand crafted and the crafts-people who make them vs their compensated value are a bit out of whack. Unless you are Imelda Marcos , I would not consider a shoe to be a “luxury good”. Hell, even as evil as Henry Ford was, at least he paid his workers enough to afford the products they maid. You’re logic is exactly why the computer you are viewing this on, and can afford to do so is why the vast majority of workers in China, Viet Nam, Indonesia…  are working, literally, as slave laborers and the goods, like CYDWOQ shoes are fabricated wherever Capitalism finds it financially most profitable to do so, despite what in the long run might be in the interest of the producer and consumer.  

      2. I bet they can afford them. From the cydwoq website:
        “Our factory has seen very little staff turnover since opening in 1996. This is not surprising since Rafi takes great care in selecting new employees. As Factory Manager in addition to Chief Designer, he knows the value of passionate people who believe in the common purpose of producing high-quality, long-lasting products of distinctive design.”

        Low turnover is a magical thing. You don’t get it by paying people less than they are worth. You have to pay them at least as much as they are worth, plus give them a working environment they don’t want to leave and reward them further in non-cash ways as well.

        As for the value of the shoes, handmade here in the USA is nice, but I’d love to try a pair for work for 30 days before deciding how I feel about them. I walk anywhere from 6-10 miles in a shift, and after 30 days (probably after 3, actually), I’d know whether the shoes are worth anything or not.

        1.  Hey, I agree with you. I did not read into their Website, but if I had I would still find it hard to justify paying $500 for a pair of boots. Hey, it was difficult for me to justify paying $150 for my Double HH riding boots,

          but I’m glad I’ve done so as I’ve had 1 pair that lasted 21 years and am now on my 2nd pair.

          1. 21 years?! You should ride more. :-) 

            Seriously though, it’s worth paying good money for good shoes, especially if you plan on wearing them. I love the all-day comfort of Johnston and Murphy’s (and they’re affordable), and someday I’ll have enough set aside for a pair of Allen Edmonds (and they’ll be worth it – I tried a pair on at Nordstrom’s and I didn’t want to take them off).

          2. $500 for a pair of handmade boots is incredibly cheap. $500 for a pair of handmade leather shoes would still be pretty reasonable in my opinion. Bench made shoes are expensive – so much so that I doubted these CYDWOQs were at that price. But looking at the details on the shoes, it doesn’t seem to unbelievable.

            If you’re worried about dropping money on shoes, get ones that can be re-soled. If you take care of them (rotating, trees, polish, etc), getting 20 years out of a pair of shoes is not hard at all.

  3. I work as a glovemaker in southern france and I am so excited to see other artisans and recognize some of the same machines we use . Though the girl on the leather press ( don’t know the english name ) should really have her hair tied back. 

  4. After reading one of Cory’s reviews, I purchased a pair. The shank (middle stiffening bit that helps keep the sole from twisting when you walk) shifted in one of the shoes after 7 months. That’s a major problem.  The soles are comfortable, but soft, and wear out very, very quickly. Repairs that Cydwoq refused to make when I sent them for service were done by a local cobbler, so I can continue to wear them, albiet for special occasions only, since they’re not really everyday wear kind of shoes.

     They’re stylish, and attractive, but not made to last 20 years. The leather is ho-hum, nothing like a cordovan (which is in the same price ranges). I have Allen Edmunds, Wolverine 1000 Mile and Johnston and Murphy shoes that are not quite as curious and eccentric, but far, far better made, worn every day, polished every month, and lasting year after year. 

    If you get 20 years out of these, you’re not wearing them much, and walking even less.

  5. Nice video but those are a *long* way from being hand made, they’re only hand made inasmuch as there are hands operating the machines that make them. When it comes to footwear ‘making’ is the act of shaping the closed upper on a last and uniting it with the soles. For all the hype about Goodyear welt there is no machine capable of replicating the work of a skilled cordwainer. Glue and cardboard and plastic have no place in a shoe.

    If you want to see what real hand made cordwaining looks like, look at Lisa Sorrel’s ( or Marcell Msran’s ( YouTube channels, or watch the videos of the French boot asker Anthony Delos at work (

    There is a series of videos of a Japanese shoemaker working in ways that are at once familiar and very foreign to western cordwainers, they use the same knife for everything where a western maker would use several tools.

Comments are closed.