Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 18th, 2008 at 3:05 pm
Jeff Mandel specializes in making leather shoes from his small shop in Southeast Portland.
Taught by masters in Holland, Mandel does everything by hand and he has documented each and every pair he's ever made (he just finished pair number 23).
A few days ago someone told me (thanks Jessica!) that Mandel not only works out of the same building as I do, but that tomorrow he's having an open house where he'll debut a new product; handmade, leather bike saddles.
I just stopped by his shop to check them out.
Mandel's first batch of saddles utilize the metal frames of the archetypal Brooks models that are revered by cyclists worldwide. After mastering the process, he plans to team up with a friend who will do all the metalwork, creating a completely Portland-made handcrafted leather bicycle saddle.
Mandel -- who rides a Dutch city bike to work everyday -- is experimenting with dyes and said he's having fun coming up with different colors and patterns. The price of the saddles will be "competitive with Brooks" (his shoes run $800 and he says they'll last 10-20 years).
Today, just as my brief visit was over, he said he also wants to work on adapting his shoes to accept SPD cleats (photo below). Classy!
Mandel is just getting off the ground here in Portland, but I suspect we'll be hearing a lot more about his work in the months and years to come.
You can see Jeff's work tomorrow at his first Open House event since moving to Portland from Eugene just a few weeks ago.
Learn more about Mandel's work at ExITShoes.com.
For a few more photos of my visit to Jeff's shop, check out these photos.
ExIT Shoes Open House
featuring leather bicycle saddles
Saturday, January 19
Noon to 4pm
The ActivSpace Building
833 SE Main St. #201