In this nostalgic Diamond Jubilee year, sentiments are running deep for all things British-made. One Scottish (Glasgow-based) footwear company which has for nearly 90 years provided high-quality tailored shoes to men, have taken on new apprentices to teach them the craft of luxury footwear production. To get them off to a good start, the apprentices recently met their football hero, Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United.
The three apprentices from Buchanan Bespoke Footwear are Andrew Harvey, 18, Scott Rennie, 17, and William Magee, 27, from the Govan area. They made the journey from the company's headquarters in Helen Street to Manchester United's training ground, to soak up the iconic atmosphere and delivery a pair of size nigh brogues to Sir Alex in person. It was a particularly exciting experience for William who is a player for Harmony Row Football Club of which Sir Alex is a patron and honorary member.
Diana Currie, managing director of Buchanan Bespoke Footwear, said: “We have been providing high quality footwear since 1925. It is important that we keep the traditional hand crafting shoemaking skills alive and by taking on new apprentices we can create a new generation of experts who can keep the business going as other staff retire.
"I wrote to Sir Alex to tell him about our commitment to training and the three new apprentices. He was only too happy to show his support and get involved with us as we are based in his hometown. Our apprentices were thrilled to meet him and I am sure it will inspire them to continue learning new skills and the business as a whole."
As part of their apprenticeship the young men will learn first-hand about the shoemaking process from beginning to end. Initially Buchanan Bespoke Footwear’s last-maker will make a last from the detailed measurement of the foot. Then the pattern cutter will design the patterns for the chosen style and cut the uppers from the leather. The leather and lining are then pieced together carefully for quality and comfort, and the footwear is then hand made on the last using traditional skills and expertise.
Cathy Black, head of textiles, Scottish Enterprise, said: “Our textiles and apparel industry in Scotland relies on meticulous processes and a highly skilled workforce. It is essential for companies, like Buchanan Bespoke Footwear to invest in the next generation through apprenticeships and ensure that skills are passed on allowing the industry to thrive.
"We know that the Buchanan team enjoyed their visit to meet Sir Alex and that they now have a new ambassador for their premier league products."