Old School Ilica

Ilica 112

Shoe Making, Reparations

Damir Mehkek – owner
+385 (0)98 981 5568, +385 (0)1 377 0184

Working hours: 09:00 – 13:00, 16:00 − 19.00 (pon-pet, Mon-Fri)
08:00 – 12:00 (sub, Sat)

"I am the second generation, continuing my father’s work."

Oaza: How many generations of shoemakers are there in your family business? What were your working beginnings like and how did you earn your practical experience?
Damir Mehkek: I am the second generation, continuing my father's work. We make custom shoes and do repairs. I graduated from the School for Textile and Design, at the same time working in my father's workshop. Two years of official training was mandatory so I worked in the Šimecki and Astra factories while they still operated.

Oaza: How long have you been at this location? Was it always a shoemaker's shop? What parts of the manufacturing process do you do? Do you have an additional space?                                                             
DM: No, we were at a different location, at number 95, but we have been here since 1998. I think this was a satchel maker's shop before. We have the workshop in Ilica, but we also work at home, where we cut and sew the uppers. This space is getting smaller so we are missing some of the machines needed. We fought for this location, it was important because of the foot traffic, but now most of our work is done based on pre-orders, the rest just does not pay.

Oaza: Do you design all the shoes in your product line? Are they mostly classic models or more modern? Can you explain the difference? Do you also offer models made from some older molds?
DM: We make every kind of shoes, whatever the customer wants. There are no rules or the most popular models. I have drawn up most of the patterns currently on offer. We try to follow the fashion, but lately it is all coming back to the classics. We are using old molds again, from 30 years ago.

O: Where do you get the materials?
DM: Before, you had to go to Italy, but today all the Italian and German materials are also available here. All the materials are imported. Our central shop in Samobor is our main supplier.

Oaza: Do you have some interesting clients?
DM: We do work for many organizations. Perhaps the most famous example would be the boots for the Zagreb Majorettes. Sometimes we get some celebrities from the entertainment business, and buyers find us online or through foreign customers.

Oaza: What is your favorite part of your work? What makes a great shoemaker?
DM: It is all the same to me, you just need to have the will for everything that you do. A real shoemaker should know how to do everything related to manufacturing. There are a lot of my fellow colleagues who do not know the half of it.

Oaza: Who will continue your work? Would you recommend this job?
DM: I have three sons, but I do not know what the situation will be when they grow up. I do not know if I would recommend this job to them, I have also accidentally found myself in this job. It is not very easy to do, you really have to have the will and patience, but we will see.

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