Our family’s shoemaking tradition dates three generations back
He married into a line of shoemakers. He honed his skills under his father-in-law, Brunon, who — as family legend has it — apprenticed under thirteen consecutive pre-WWII masters. A one-man band and an uneasy spirit. He has made shoes for speed skaters and windsurfing boards. After hours, he pursues his other great passion, watchmaking. It was his daughter who persuaded him to revive his old (and requited) love for shoes. In the workshop, he is primarily responsible for taking measurements and shaping lasts. He also supervises the work of shoemakers and upper makers. A meticulous perfectionist and an expert in foot ergonomics. Usually assertive, except with customers.
She has absorbed the craft tradition since childhood. Sunday dinners at the grandparents’ apartment in Nowy Świat Street were always accompanied by the smell of leather and the sight of lasts piled up in the stairwell. If it were not for the size, today she would still wear the court shoes which Brunon made for her first communion. To her own surprise, after graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, she decided to seek inspiration in the family roots. Her idea was to combine her father’s unique experience and her fresh approach. As the designer, she ensures that the designs are repetitive in only one respect: their timeless elegance. Additionally, she manages the workshop: coordinates work, attends to customers and handles promotion, as well as keeping the shop supplied with leather and materials.
It is hard to say when he began to learn the trade, but ever since he can remember, he used to sit in his grandfather’s workshop. Nowadays, he is always the first to arrive at work. Never waits around, busy as a bee. Always open to feedback and ready for non-standard solutions. That is because every pair of shoes is different and represents a new challenge. In the workshop, he handles the execution. He makes both men’s and women’s shoes, which is quite a rare skill in itself. What is even less common, he makes them well. He is living proof that the Warsaw craftsman is perhaps an endangered species, but certainly not extinct.
Brunon Kamiński was one of the most renowned
shoemakers in post-WWII Warsaw
Born in early 20th century in a small village in Pomerania. He wanted to be a shoemaker since he was small. An original idea, as there were none in the area. Few people wore shoes for that matter. He went to the capital by himself and, as family legend has it, managed to apprentice under thirteen masters before WWII. He dreamed of his own workshop in Nowy Świat Street, which he attained in 1943. The shop became popular quickly. Soon, Master Brunon was the favourite shoemaker of movie stars, politicians, musicians, foreigners and diplomats.
In the 1960s, he worked for Moda Polska, the national fashion enterprise, and fashion designer Xymena Zaniewska requested that he make shoes for her models. He was successful in international shows. Customers loved him. He made shoes for celebrities like Irena Santor, Beata Tyszkiewicz, Grażyna Szapołowska, as well as party dignitaries and their wives. The Leather Craft Guild appointed him to make a pair of shoes for Pope John Paul II.
To this day, Brunon’s legend inspires us and sets a standard of perfection which we constantly pursue.
Left: a pair of white nubuck loafers made by Brunon Kamiński as a present from the Warsaw-based Leather Craft Guild for Pope John Paul II. Above: Brunon Kamiński in his workshop in Nowy Świat 22, in the 1960s. (Photo: family archive)
Above: a view of Kamiński’s workshop right after WWII. A display with the sign “Footwear. Brunon Kamiński” is shown. (Photo from the book Kronikarki. Zofia Chomętowska – Maria Chrząszczowa. Fotografie Warszawy 1945–1946)