Join Me For A tale Of Heritage & Passion
In today’s article I will tell you the story of Andres Sendra Bootmaker.
One of the definitive Goodyear Welted Shoe & Boot factories in Europe.
Through this short editorial I hope to give you a glimpse of the experience I had during my visit last week.
I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.
BootMakers Since 1913
Andres Sendra is an important player in the shoe world.
A Brand with over 100 years of heritage and experience in shoemaking and a family business nonetheless.
Their base is in the small town of Almansa in Spain, just an hour away from Alicante and Valencia.
We talked about the story and heritage with Angel and Abi, both working with sales and working closely with customers.
Angel works at the factory for almost 40 years, since he was around 17.
Abi on the other hand is a younger, passionate woman with an eye for detail and great shoe suggestions.
It was my intent to visit the Factory and learn more about their processes, ambitions and operations in order to share this with you.
You see, Andres Sendra makes a multitude of products and has endless customization potential.
From making some of the most famous brands in the world, to having their own line, patina service, to cowboy boots and state of the art machinery Andres Sendra does it all and well.
The Andres Sendra Factory
Just seeing the factory is an experience on its own.
There is a giant boot sign with a colorful palette, but wait until you get inside.
There are modern, Spanish and Mexican themed murals everywhere and it’s really cool to see for the first time.
Generally, apart from the offices the factory has different sections specializing in different things.
I will try to cover most of it since for privacy reasons and to protect other brands I cannot show everything.
It was a pleasant surprise to see that right next door Berwick has a base as well.
Everybody tends to forget that there is a lot of leather coming in and out in shoe factories and that’s where everything begins.
The first layer consists of leather arrivals, preparation, inspection, quality control and sorting.
Mainly calf, suede and other types of leather that depends on the client and the industry supply.
You see there are shortages and difficulties in the leather industry right now for quality leathers.
It is hard for certain leathers to have a consistent hue and color, so there is a range of acceptable variations.
Pictures cannot tell you how much leather is in storage and all the wonderful combinations one could make.
Tip: Learn all about The Types of Shoe Leather Here.
Assembling The Uppers
Afterwards we visited the assembly room.
Those of you that read my Bespoke Shoemaking Guides will know that a pattern and accurate closing of the uppers is vital.
There are dedicated people spending all their life working as a cutter, clicker, operator of sewing machines and much more.
In this room there is a flow of processes but it all begins with the way you want to cut the pattern.
You can do it by hand, using a die cast or a special razor machine.
Making Bespoke or Handmade products is great, but for an industrial setting and application such machinery is vital.
I (and many others) speak a lot about making things purely by hand and how Goodyear shoes are not “handmade”.
We spent a lot of time in the factory observing the skill required to operate successfully a machine and be precise and consistent.
There are still human hands with decades of experience operating those machines.
Back on topic, in this section of the Andres Sendra Factory we saw the whole process of upper making.
Skiving, cutting, lining and stitching it all together.
The Production ROom
Onto the “meat” of the situation which is making actual shoes.
It was refreshing for me to compare my experience to the Carlos Santos Factory now that I know how to make shoes by hand.
I recognized every step and the why and how behind each section.
In the main production room Andres Sendra takes the uppers and creates actual shoes.
Up to 400 pairs of shoes every day in fact which is a great amount.
Angel made a remark that I still hold dearly and impressed about the production.
He said that they would not want to increase the output as quality would decline and skilled passionate personnel is generally scarce in this industry.
They seem to care about their shoes and their reputation, rather than a quick buck.
Here you will see all the classic steps to produce a Goodyear Welted Shoe but most of their machinery is really impressive.
The Goodyear Welted Method
A Goodyear Welt is a strip of leather that acts essentially as an intermediary between the uppers, insole and outsole.
It’s stitched individually with the outsole which means that it is very easy to replace a worn out sole.
It is the first time I really observed in detail the production technique.
The application of the “fake” canvas rib holdfast receives a few stitches to hold it in place.
There is also a machine that lasts the leather onto the shoe.
It’s mind boggling to see the progression and idea behind this in action.
It then receives stitches on the front and back to hold it in place, before an incredible machine trims the excess leather on the bottom with precision.
There are tones of details such as flattening the welt and outsole with accuracy, cutting the hidden sole channel or creating the fiddleback waist.
Especially that last one is an automated process that involves a roller going back and forth in an angle.
Of course there are a ton more steps and processes, such as putting the heel block, sanding and tying any loose ends.
To simplify, the production room takes something that resembles a shoe and turns it into one.
Tip: Read about the Methods of Shoe Construction Here.
Lastly, you have a dedicated area for the finishing.
This includes polishing or any other touches and of course the patina work.
Certain leathers receive a uniform finish on crust leather with spray while others the full handpainted treatment with brushes.
There are a ton of well-known brands that end up here which I unfortunately cannot share with you.
Possibilities With Andres Sendra
Andres Sendra has the experience to produce any shoes with Goodyear, Blake or lower construction.
They have their own RTW Range which is fairly priced and often has some clearance sales if you are lucky with your size.
The production possibilities and choices are truly endless.
You can develop new models, styles and designs all in house.
You can also choose one of the pre-determined lasts, produce new ones and get help when it comes to shipping, packing and labelling.
It is a great all-in-one solution place which I prefer since the more hands get involved in a process the bigger the change of a mistake.
There are also many leather options from regular box calf, to suede, certain exotics, Utah and Hatchgrain or regular scotchgrain.
Most importantly this remains a family business and Angel and Abi as well as all the workers made us feel welcome and at home.
It is a place where I can recommend you to do shopping but also business.
It’s been a while since I was in a proper factory visit.
I thoroughly enjoyed this trip and this opportunity to check out the Andres Sendra Factory.
Spain and its people make it such a wonderful place to be.
It also shows me and reminds me how much effort still goes into the production of most of the shoes you see there.
But also gives me a different perspective that they are just humans and maybe I should not be that hard on certain inconsistencies of the production.
Let me know in the comments what you think and if you liked it I will try to visit Enzo Bonafe in Bologna next.
Thank you for reading,
How does the quality compare to Carlos Santos?
Hi Steve, such comparisons don’t really much sense since they can produce a variety of styles and constructions.
At the highest level I would say they are comparable with the Handgrade line of Santos. Their own rtw range is affordable and decent quality too.