The beak shoe- A bestselling classic
Kero shoemakers have been making beak shoes since the first cobblers started working at the Kero factory in northern Sweden a hundred years ago, developing and improving their products over time. The popular Blötnäbb soft beak shoe was developed thanks to popular demand, when customers came around asking for a functional soft beak shoe. Traditionally, people used to sew their own beak shoes, but as society developed, the skill of making your own pair of shoes faded. Kero has kept that shoemaking tradition alive, and today the Blötnäbb soft beak shoe’s one of Kero’s bestselling classics. In our range you’ll find handmade shoes by Kero.
At the very beginning, every shoe at Kero was sewn by hand. Machines were later introduced, taking over parts of the production. Now, when you think of machines in factories, you may think of large halls with automated machines, but that’s not what it looks like at Kero. At Kero all the specialized machines are operated by hand, used for specific parts of the shoe making process. The soles need to be pressed, and the leather needs to be stretched and then hand-cut with a knife. Precision and an eye for detail are vital, and the people working at Kero have learnt their craft and the many steps of making leather shoes on site, right here at Kero’s own factory. A historic craft that’s been passed down through generations.
In addition to the traditional beak shoe, Kero also offer several other models to choose from. The newest addition is a white beak shoe that has all the familiar traits of a traditional beak shoe, but with a cool sneaker-like appearance.
The history of Beak shoes- from necessity to accessory
Beak shoes have been used in northern Sweden for hundreds of years. Through this rugged landscape people have travelled on skis through deep forests, over frozen lakes and vast mires since time immemorial. The “beak” at the front of the shoe was a clever way of keeping the leather ski straps from slipping off the shoe when you were skiing.
One of the first products Kero started making, when they first made the transition from only tanning leather to actually making finished leather products, was the beak shoe. Kero started manufacturing Blötnäbben, one of their most popular beak shoe models, because their customers specifically asked for a soft beak shoe. Back in the day when people used to sew their own clothes and shoes, they also made their own beak shoes at home. But as time went by and the economy grew stronger, people started buying shoes instead of making them themselves, and that’s how the Blötnäbben beak shoe became a bestselling classic.
At Kero, every shoe is made with manual precision. The soles need pressing, the leather stretching, and any excess leather has to be cut off with a knife. There are many steps in the process, and each step needs to be closely supervised. The women and men working at Kero have all been trained on site, step by step, to make sure each end product is of the highest quality. It’s also a way of keeping the traditional shoe making craft, that’s been passed on through generations, alive. Each pair of shoes is made from naturally tanned reindeer leather. This means the leather is free from chemicals. The hides are tanned using natural tannins like birch bark, and then washed, brushed, shaved and stretched in large barrels, making them soft and malleable. As a result, naturally tanned leather is softer and more breathable than chemically tanned leather. This makes it perfect for footwear, as your feet will sweat less and feel fresher.
Nowadays skiing isn’t the most common way of getting around anymore, and beak shoes and ski straps have been replaced with skiing boots and bindings. Even so, the beak shoe is more popular than ever. Kero’s latest model is a white beak shoe that has all the traditional traits of a classic beak shoe, but with a more modern sneaker-like design. And so the beak shoe has evolved from being an everyday necessity, to being a fashion statement and accessory, with its roots in the Arctic wilderness.
Text and photography:Amanda Matti Explorealittlemore.se