Artisans Behind Your Brogues: PART I - The Clicker - Julia Bo - Women's Oxfords


Under our 45-day return policy, you can always return/exchange your custom shoes. In this case, you'll have to send them back to our US or UK address. We offer free exchanges for orders over $75

You can return/exchange your custom shoes under the following terms and conditions:

a. We have a 45-day return policy. After this period, we no longer accept exchanges or returns.

b. In case of returns, we'll issue you a full refund as soon as we receive your shoes back.

c. Shoes must be returned in an unworn/original condition. When trying your shoes on, please walk only on carpeted surfaces to avoid marks and scuffs on the soles.

d. Buyers are responsible for the return shipping cost to our UK (London) or US (Oregon) address.

e. Please contact us before sending your shoes back.


Artisans Behind Your Brogues: PART I - The Clicker

Enjoy our new mini-series 'Artisans Behind Your Brogues', where you'll meet some of the artisans crafting your shoes in our workshop located in Lviv, Ukraine.

In this first capsule, we introduce you to Andrey, who has been working for over 16 years as a clicker. Hope you like it!         



Name: Andrey Zaharin
Age: 40 years old
Job: Shoe Clicker - and math teacher in his previous life.


How did you become a clicker?  And where did you learn your craft?

Accidentally…By occupation, I am a math teacher and used to work in a local secondary school. In 2008, during the summer term, my brother, who was a clicker at the small local factory, asked me if I can cover him up at work when he undergoes the surgery. He did not want to lose his job. I agreed. He became my teacher.                                                                                                                       

Don’t you find this craft less challenging than teaching? 

Yes, and I like it. I am an introverted person who likes to work alone and as a young teacher I felt frustrated to deal with young rebellious teenagers with no interest in math.

On the other hand, shoemaking craft demands me to be focused, precise, efficient and calm. My knife looks very much as a scalp, one does not want to go wrong with it.

Tell us more about your skill? What are the basic steps to perform your craft?

It is like a sort of meditation for me: first of all, each piece of leather is scrutinised very close to see if there are any defects in it.

Secondly, I pull the leather in all directions in order to determine its direction of stretch and find out how elastic it is.

Thirdly, I count the design patterns and arrange them economically on the skin or hide. I have a great deal of responsibility here because top-quality leather is a very expensive material. If I do not work carefully enough I cut rejects or waste instead of correctly sized and shaped vamps and quarters. The distance between two parts is often as little as a twenty-fifth of an inch (1 mm).

Lastly, the name of the customer is written on each of the parts, the parts are tied together, placed in a small bag and sent to the closer for the upper to be assembled in the traditional expert fashion.

What are your craft tools?

A cutting table covered with a sheet of rubber about 3 inches (8cm) thick, so that I can cut into the rubber without leaving traces because it just closes up. My knife. It should be very sharp. If it is blunt, the cut edges may be jagged or wavy and the knife can slip, causing mistakes.  

What makes a good clicker craft?

The arrangement of the patterns always has to be given careful thought each time. The patterns are laid on the leather in the same strict order, still avoiding any leather defects. The individual parts of the left and right shoes must be cut in pairs so that they come from the same piece of leather and have the same qualities.

The direction of stretch of a piece of leather is up most important too. For example, the pattern for the vamp must be laid onto the leather in such a way that the piece cut out can stretch lengthwise, but not sideways. By contrast, the quarter must not stretch lengthwise because otherwise it may become about a half inch (1-2 cm) longer after being worn for a while and destroy the shoes rigidity and shape. It is all about  those details and order that only experienced clickers have.

What is your favorite JuliaBo design to work with?

I like to cut customized shoes. It is fascinating to see customer’s thirst for uniqueness. It always makes me wonder who is the customer? What is a particular outfit or occasion? And I feel a part of it, being the first to cut out a combination of different leathers and colours.

What is your least favorite JuliaBo design to work with?

Best-seller of the season. I cut it so often daily that I can lose a focus and the knife can slip. Luckily, best sellers change from season to season.

How many pairs can you can cut out daily?

It depends on the design. On average, I aim for 30 pairs.

It is not a secret that since shoemaking became industrialised, your job is performed by a plotter machine at mass production factories. How is your work different from the work the machine does?

The plotter is a powerful machine that cuts thousands of patterns per hour and is utilized in nearly all modern shoe factories. It excels at scrutinizing leather for defects and economically arranging patterns on the material. However, I believe that my role as the clicker encompasses more than just these technical aspects. A proficient clicker serves as an expert in choosing the best piece of leather for each shoe based on color tones, weights, grain distribution, and flexibilities.

Maybe in the near future, due to the mass production of inexpensive shoes primarily in China and India, my job may become extinct, and I could end up as just a plotter assistant who puts leather on a plotter board. However, I still want to believe that I will be the one to choose a piece of leather for that board. That's where my expertise and experience matter. Apart from that, clicking itself is child’s play: as long as the knife is sharp enough and you have a steady hand, you can't go wrong.

Thank you machine but at Julia Bo we prefer to keep it old school!
Hasta la vista, baby... 😎