Nasser Vies is one of only handful of bespoke (made to order) shoe and boot makers in Toronto. He doesn't have a website however he does have a blog where you can see some of his latest work. Nasser is also very interested in teaching and passing on his skills and trade secrets. He works out of a small shop on Queen St. East.
"Shoemaking is a vocation, it is applied science and art, it is called the “gentle craft” and it isn’t a hobby, because of the length of time taken to master it. It’s like a revelation, it comes piece by piece periodically until the “correct ideal” is fixed in the mind of the student."
He is originally from Abadan, Iran, a city across the river from Iraq, where he studied math and was planning to become an engineer. But when he moved to Canada in 1980, he discovered shoemaking. He worked for 2½ years as an apprentice in Dundas but when the shop owner moved to Nova Scotia he decided to stay and open his own shop in Toronto.
He hopes to expand his shop to three or four — if only to pass on his secrets. “It’s a trade in decline,” he said. “There are not enough shoemakers.” Things may well turn around in that respect since there seems to be a growing trend toward buying better made, hand-made items. More and more people are realizing that it is much more satisfying to buy a quality product and enjoy it for many years rather buying something that has been mass-produced and made from cheap materials and doesn't last, only to throw it away in a year to buy again. This cycle doesn't do justice to the buyer, the seller, the community or the people assembling it on-mass.
You can reach Nasser Vies in his Toronto workshop by phone at 416-778-7012 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit his blog to see more of his work and find out more about his courses.