Ιn Tsikalaria, Chania, Crete there is an Industrial Park, ΒΙΟ.ΠΑ, that consists of small and medium workshops. There we visited the Klimatsakis workshop and had the pleasure of talking with Michalis Klimatsakis, a member of the family that makes handmade leather sandals for men, women, and children.
TNH: How old is the business and how did it start?
Michalis Klimatsakis: The workshop has been in its present form since 2006 when it started manufacturing leather sandals. My father, Konstantinos Klimatsakis, started working with sandals many years back when he started working as a machine maintainer in a large footwear factory. There he learned the art of footwear and learned how to make molds and leather bags, slowly gaining a tremendous amount of experience in the making of sandals.
TNH: Are you open all year round or just for a specific season every year?
M.K. The workshop is open all year round. During winter months we fill the warehouse in order to cope with the great summer demand.
TNH: The sandals are made from scratch, correct?
M.K. Correct. The sandals are handmade and are made from scratch here at the workshop. We only buy the leather and we create the sandals.
TNH: Where do you get the leather from and what kind of leather do you use?
M.K. About 95% of our production is calves’ leather that the tanners buy semi-processed (the hair is removed) and then process by using only natural materials. It is a technique that was developed here in Greece, and as a result the leather has no chemicals. That is what makes the leather very durable.
TNH: Describe to us the stages of a sandal’s production.M.K. The first stage is the cutting, in which you basically take the pieces of leather and you attach them by either stitching them or with the help of various metallic elements in order to get the shape of the sandal you want. Then, after you have prepared the bottom, you create holes in specific places and you put on the fonti, the assembled leather. Then you modernize it on a shoe last stand, which is shaped like a human foot, and give it its final form. This is the most important step, since it must be formed in such a way as to be stable and comfortable. Finally, you glue the soles to the sandals and add some last details so that the sandals are not only comfortable, but perfect for display.
TNH: Who is in charge of the designs?
M.K. My father is mostly in charge for the designs since he has many years of experience. My brother and I, Anastasios Klimatsakis, help in the process as well.
TNH: Were there times when you had to do something out of the ordinary and experiment with new designs? Did you get a good outcome, or do you think your classic designs are the most successful at the end?
M.K. You should always follow fashion, but only up to the point where the character of the handmade Greek leather sandal is preserved. If you have new ideas, you can always create a very good Greek fashionable sandal. Classic designs are always a big part of our production but there are some new designs that people love so much that in the end they become classic and timeless as well.
TNH: Where can someone find and buy your sandals?
M.K. Our sandals can be found in almost all the Greek Islands and in all the major Greek cities.
TNH: You recently opened a store in Chania and Rethymno. What can someone find there besides sandals?
In our new stores where my brother Yiannis Klimatsakis is in charge, besides the enormous range of our sandals, someone can also find leather bags and belts as well as leather wallets in a wide variety of designs and colors.
TNH: Do you trade overseas or just in Greece?
M.K. We sell our sandals in many countries such as France, Germany, Britain, the USA, and Israel.
TNH: You recently participated in the TECHNIMA Trade Fair of 2019 that took place at the metropolitan Expo in Athens. What did you present this year?
M.K. This year in the Exhibition we presented our collection for 2019, which is enriched with many new designs and many new colors in order to catch up with the market’s requirements.