On wooden soles

The shoemaking family from the Allgäu

On wooden soles

The shoemaking family from the Allgäu

The workshop is full of rails, pieces of wood and whirring machines. The whole place smells of wood, leather and glue. Pieces of animal hide and rubber soles are stacked up on a workbench. All kinds of different tools are stored on the shelf behind. Marco Keller sits in between the two, dressed in his work apron. He is adding the finishing touches to a wood and animal skin shoe. He carefully rivets the soft pelt upper to the wooden footbed. Next to him, the sewing machine hums continuously: Marco's father, Alfred Keller, is processing a piece of lambskin for the inner lining of the next shoe.

Business is generally busy for the Kellers. With their handmade shoes, the family has made a name for itself far beyond the borders of the Allgäu. They produce wood and animal skin shoes, slippers, traditional Haferlshoes (shoes in the style of a traditional custom) as well as climbing boots and hunting shoes.

Marco Keller has been running the business since 2014. He is the third generation to do so, as it was his grandfather who founded the company back in 1943. The whole family gets involved: Father Alfred, mother Edith and Marco's younger brother Alexander Keller. The shoemakers divide up the tasks between themselves – from production to sales in the shop.

Familie Keller

Shoemakers in the Allgäu – the last of their kind

The Kellers are some of the few remaining shoemakers in Germany still practising the centuries-old craft. Milling out wood, cutting the animal skins, sewing together the uppers and linings – Marco Keller and his family work in line with old traditions. They only use natural materials for their wood and animal skin shoes. The cowhide, which they use to cover the wooden footbed, lends the shoes their characteristic appearance. No two pairs are the same – depending on the colour of the hide, brown tones, black or white determine the look. This makes the fluffy footwear a real eye-catcher.

 

 

"Each shoe is unique", says Marco Keller. The cultivator of tradition has finished his training in the family business. He still has the Haferlschuh that he made during his trade qualification exam – the first shoe he ever made. "I kind of grew up in the workshop", he says, explaining his passion for making shoes.

The craftsmanship shapes the production process, even though a few stages are supported by machines. Without these machines, production would take too long and the shoes would be too expensive. Each wood and animal skin shoe takes around two and a half hours to make.

'Each shoe is unique.'

When it comes to the leather Haferlschuh shoes, which the Keller family produce to order, more steps are required. The Kellers spend around 15 hours working on the footwear. The black Haferlschuh shoes are robust and go with everything. They are very popular when paired with Lederhosen trousers.

How the wooden shoe from the Allgäu conquered the world

The Kellers are proving that traditional craftsmanship and modern life can go hand in hand on a daily basis. "We produce shoes that are needed and in demand – for example as work shoes or slippers. Thus we have conquered a niche", says Marco Keller. Durable and comfortable – customers treasure these characteristics of the wooden shoes made by the Kellers. The wooden footbed is weatherproof and keeps the feet dry when it is wet outside. The leather upper and inner help to keep the feet warm. Time doesn't do much to the wooden shoes. "We know customers who have been wearing our shoes for 20 or 30 years", says Marco Keller, proudly.

The footwear is especially popular at the region's markets and transhumance festivals – amongst locals and guests from other countries. Thus the shoes have become known across the world. "We are currently working on an order from Canada. But we have sent deliveries to the USA and New Zealand in the past", says Marco Keller. There are no borders as far as the Keller's shoes are concerned.

SCHUH KELLER Marco Keller
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address: Ortsstraße 21, 87538 Bolsterlang
Tel: +49 (0)8326 7550
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email: Kontakt@Keller-Schuh.de
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web: //www.keller-schuh.de