When a shoemaker passes his art to those willing to learn, he begins a legacy. A young apprentice begins by committing every slope and stitch of his master’s handiwork into memory at his own fingertips. After enough time, the pupil will have learned enough to make a pair worthy of his master’s legacy. Maybe it was this idea that urged José Albaladejo Pujadas to continue his forefathers’ steps.
A young “Pepe” apprenticed under the guidance of his grandfather to continue his great-grandfather’s art with Carmina Shoemaker, located in Spain’s Mediterranean island of Majorca. The Albaladejo Pujadas family has proven itself an ancestry of shoemaking, spanning six generations of cutting and sewing leather into purposeful footwear, helping turn this Spanish isle into its shoemaking capital. Pepe’s children maintain the business, with daughter Betty managing ever-expanding international accounts, ensuring quality control through small batches. Mrs. Albaladejo is the muse for whom the company is named. The former apprentice, Pepe still clocks in the factory every day.
Led by a family crest of experience, the craftsmen and women of Carmina commit themselves to produce shoes with as much handiwork as possible. The last — the heart of the shoe’s shape — is carved, sanded, and catalogued by masters. Every piece of leather is cut with manual blades. When machine work is necessary, it is time-honored. The Goodyear welt is an industry standard that ensures decades of wear. It was no other than Pepe’s grandfather Mateo Pujadas who introduced this process to the region in 1905. Once complete, every Carmina pair earns its namesake.
With this strict process, Pepe and his team honor not only the family name, but also Spain’s history of leather craft. Shell cordovan — the toughest, longest lasting shoe leather — originated in the southern Spanish city of Córdoba. In the 16th century, it emerged as a robust decoration for armor and trunks. And just like today, the manufacture and use of this unyielding horsehide requires the strength and precision of human hands. Carmina specializes in shell cordovan with over twenty models of various styles and colors.
If you asked for favorites, many shoe collectors would probably point to the austerity of an English cap toe, or the fluidity of an Italian loafer. Pepe’s team offers a spotlight on Spanish heritage and six generations of understanding. Their catalogue reveals a tapestry of styles and tastes fit for any conservative or dandy about town. A new customer feels it in the soles, and a first pair of Carmina won’t be his or her only.
When Matías Pujadas opened an intimate shoe workshop in his Majorcan town of Inca in 1866, did he know that his art would pass on and maintain one hundred and fifty years later? He was likely too caught in the whirlwind of his own business to entertain the thought. But when you follow your passion every day, people notice. Even your little grandson sees the devotion you leave at your bench. Now, there’s a legacy.