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  HOME | World (Click here for more)

Shoemaker Creates Size 75 Shoes to Help Enforce Social Distancing

BUCHAREST/CLUJ, Romania – A Romanian shoemaker has created size 75 shoes to help people respect social distancing rules.

Grigori Lup, 55, says he had to make his 10 workers temporarily unemployed in March when orders stopped coming in.

“Suddenly, people stopped entering my business,” he tells EFE in his workshop in the city of Cluj.

Lup’s clientele base is theater, opera and dance groups which stopped putting in orders when their performances were canceled during lockdown.

“I saw that nobody was entering and I said to myself, stop, I have to close,” Lup adds.

Then he had an idea about how he could keep himself occupied during the crisis.

“Nobody respected social distancing and I thought: I’m going to make three pairs of these shoes, I’ll put them on the internet and I’ll call them social distancing shoes to attract attention,” he explains.

The leather shoes fit normally but have an extra-long toe filled with a light material, making them the equivalent of a size 75.

“If two people who were wearing my shoes were placed in front of each other there would be a separation of about a meter and a half between them,” Lup explains.

He has received eight orders from Romania, England and Canada for the shoes, which sell for around €100 a pair.

“Someone called me from England and said she wanted boots for social distancing.

“I showed her these boots and asked her: are they for a play? And she said no, that her husband had told her he wanted to go out in them.”

Lup has been making shoes by hand since 1949, when he was 16 years old and started working as an apprentice with a shoemaker from Cluj.

After Romania’s revolution in 1989, which ended more than four decades of communism in the country, he moved from the public sector to the private sector and started making shoes for a company founded by one of his bosses.

In 2001 he had to adapt to industrialization which pushed him to establish himself as a traditional cobbler.

Lup’s boss stopped making shoes by hand after reaching an agreement with an Italian company where he sent the unfinished product for them to put together in a factory.

“I liked doing the job as I knew it, manually, so I decided to open my own workshop,” he explains.

He founded AXA Magnolia which began by specializing in children’s leather shoes.

This initial venture did not work and Lup switched to making adult shoes shortly after launching the business.

He also had to weather the 2008 financial crisis, when he lost a large part of his sales revenues.

“There was a woman in Cluj who made traditional footwear for popular dances and had just retired,” Lup recalls.

So he started making shoes for dance groups and then expanded to theaters and opera.

“In all financial crises I have managed to continue making shoes, I have been making shoes since I was 16 years old, it is what I know best how to do,” he concludes.


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