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I think wearing the Rey boot for a trial through early spring put a bounce in my step rarely seen in January amongst commuters on the Northern line. I was delighted to meet the craftsmen of my boots in Portugal last week.
The factory that makes the natural rubber soles for the Rey boot is based north of Porto. It is big, well ventilated, with lots of shiny metal that reminds me of a chocolate making factory in Switzerland… but maybe a bit more steam punk! (older machines from the 60s and 70s). The long, thick slabs of rubber are placed into a steel machine and cooked, after minutes they emerge, waffle on one side, and the outer sole tread on the other. I love the way the excess rubber flaps off like bits of fried egg or comical fingers of rubber gloves hanging freshly-baked over the heavy metal. The waste rubber is cut away and then placed ready for the fantasy laser engraving that is burnt into the sole.
The thick coconut-fibre sheets lie ready on the table, under a single foot-shaped cookie cutter, the iconic Po-Zu Foot-Mattress is cut, one by one, and placed into the rubber sole. The wool tweed fabric is rolled out onto the cutting table and again hand-held cutters shaped for each part of the pattern of the uppers are placed under the pressing machine. The parts are neatly tied together and passed to the seamstress. As with many Po-Zu styles, the details surprise: there is a back heel panel made in local Portuguese cork, which is printed in metallic bronze with the Resistance logo and the Star Wars logo is embossed into the cork.
The wool tweed is layered and sewn back to back for extra warmth and durability – the seamstress makes the sewing look easy, moving deftly around the cork on the back heel and adding a layer wool felt for the lining. This unique upper looks like a woolen baseball cap, until it is sewn to the rubber sole – using a little water-based glue. No synthetic-based solvents here.
Once finished, the Rey boot is then tagged and placed in the Star Wars Po-Zu box.
This boot looks so like the one Rey wore in The Force Awakens.
Watch the film, if you don’t believe me!
By Safia Minney