Press Release

In the mid-1980s, Australia had a thriving footwear manufacturing industry but when tariffs were cut the industry all but died out. Local business Custom Fit Australia has defied this trend and has been making shoes on demand in Hampton East for the past 18 years. And furthermore the business is expanding!

Bespoke shoemaker, Peter Cordwell has recently been joined by Jess Cameron-Wootten and the two shoemakers are hand-crafting shoes for a variety of customers with special requirements.

Peter has a loyal band of customers in the south-east region who he has been supplying custom-made golf shoes, prescription made (medical grade) footwear and individualised boots. "Every customer is different and each pair of shoes we make is the perfect style and fit for that customer" he said.

There are a number of customers that life wouldn’t be the same for without the work that Peter does. “We have customers that have been coming to us for ten or more years who wouldn’t be able to walk without our shoes”. It’s obvious how much this means to Peter. “We have an on going relationship with many of our clients and this relationship is what our business survives on”.

Jess is bringing a background of design to the business and is catering for the fashion market. “The relationship that people have with their shoes is something very different to that which we have with many other inanimate objects in our lives. They have an emotive quality that is somehow intrinsic to them. We take great care in hand crafting each shoe to suit the customer’s physical needs as well as being able to offer something unique that fits with their personality and style. We work with our customers to make each design an individual fashion statement." Wether it’s a pair of knee high crocodile skin boots or a comfortable walking shoe Custom Fit can make it. “Peter’s made some amazing creations in the past. The Gold ad Silver metallic football boots for the EJ Whitten Legends game a few years back were pretty out there. If you’re a golfer that likes to be noticed then the pink crocodile skin brogues are one way of getting some attention!”

The pair have a long history in the industry. Peter started as a young man over 30 years ago, working in factories producing a wide variety of shoes for many different markets. He started Custom Fit Australia with Max Pizzey. Peter and Max had worked together at Corvin Shoes in Melbourne for many years prior to the 80’s tariff cuts. When Corvin was forced to close Max and Peter decided that there was still a need for quality Australian made shoes, they began making Golf, Football, Nurses shoes catering for the likes of Garry Ablett, Stephen Silvagni and Many Australian Golf Pro’s.

Jess’ father, Ross Wootten, was a bespoke shoe maker who began working in the early 70’s in South Australia with George Koleff. George was a Belgian Master Craftsman who had a huge impact on the shoe making industry in Australia. For Jess it was important to continue his father’s legacy, “I grew up sitting in wonderment in the corner of my dad’s tiny studio out the back of our family home in Northern NSW. I was always amazed at the care taken, he was a traditional craftsman who had a love affair with the shoe. The relationship he built with his clients was as much appealing to me as his creations.”

The Doc Cobbler retail space and studio/workshop is located opposite the Moorabbin Town Hall at 864 Nepean Highway, in Hampton East. This space is undergoing a face lift to bring it up to the standard of the footwear it produces. “It is important that people are aware that high quality shoes are still made here in Melbourne” Peter said.

When you walk into Doc Cobbler it is immediately apparent that this isn’t your run-of-the-mill suburban shoe shop, the smells and sounds of this age-old craft surround you. “We found that people would quite often be surprised to find out that the products were made on the premises, so we are making the workshop part of our retail space, bringing the public in contact with the making process. People seem to have a genuine interest in the inner workings of such a traditional trade and we feel it is important to share it with them. The shop showcases a small portion of shoes and boots we make on the premises, but the possibilities are endless" Jess said, "and with time we'll be expanding our range to include uniquely designed leather apparel such as belts and bags to compliment the footwear we're crafting."

Custom-made shoes from Custom Fit cost upwards of $600 a pair and boots are $750 plus. Costs vary with types of leather chosen, the need for individualised design and the degree of detail in the shoe style chosen. Doc Cobbler is open Tuesday-Wednesday 8am-4pm, Thursday-Friday 8am-5pm and Saturday 9am-1pm. A visit to the shop provides the sights, smells and sounds of the shoemaking trade that have become truely rare in Australia today.