Vita ~ 1
›This boy shall become a shoemaker, the shoemaker will always have something to eat!‹.
With this prophecy of my grandfather I was born on the island of Föhr in 1959. The step into this handicraft I only made after I had graduated from Secondary school and did community service but then with all consequences:
At that time it was quite unusual to be trained as a custom shoemaker. However, I was incredibly lucky to come across the last member of his guild, a true master of this profession in Germany. Especially because Harai, who was born in Hungary, had enormously high demands on his trainees. This signified to thoroughly learn the basics and sophistications of Hungarian shoemaking and to finally master it.
After three years of apprenticeship, one year as a journeyman and a sturdy dispute with the old Harai, I decided to ask John Lobb for a job in London. It was like a dream come true: the great master advised me to immediately set up my workshop and start working as soon as possible.
Vita ~ 2
That’s how I started the ›London adventure‹ in January 1986. Having acquired my first basic equipment for 50 Deutschmark from the inheritance of a shoemaker on Föhr, I went, with my two little children to London. The risk of self-employment began thus for me and my wife at this internationally known place: John Lobb. That one company that is since 1863 allowed to bear the seal of the purveyor to His Majesty and that is until today, not only the shoemaker of the Queen, but also of the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales.
At Lobb’s business I received a training for three months, where I was allowed to look over the shoulder of a so called ›Don‹ and where I was introduced into the secrets of English shoemaking. Through the abundance and diversity of the work, I was able to deepen and to perfect my skills very quickly.
As a ›freelancer‹ I was free to be employed by other shoemakers as well. Hence I managed to gain orders from Foster & Son, New & Lingwood, Alan McAfee and George Cleverly. In addition I succeeded in receiving orders from the shoe house ›Eduard Meier‹ who resides in Munich.
Vita ~ 3
The orders and demands have accordingly been various ranging from the noble business model to the robust golf players’ shoe, from the classic Oxford or Fullbrogue to the sporty and sporty and comfortable walking boot. However, even simple sandals made from snakeskin for a Saudi Prince were part of the orders.
But a shoemaker should not reveal more information about his customers as discretion is not only highest precept in London but it belongs to the tools in the same way as stretching straps and awls.
These years have been very instructive and full of changes, one could call them ›years spent in travel‹ as it is common in handicraft tradition. In 1988 my wife Magrit got also involved into this work and thus my activity turned into a family business in which all components of shoemaking were united under one roof.
But in 1989 it seemed to me that we had reached the point to establish our small business at home again.
Vita ~ 4
By 1990 we were able to take over the former fire-station on Gut Basthorst in Herzogtum Lauenburg and establish our business there. The estate of Baron Enno von Ruffin gave us, 17 years long, the perfect opportunity to bring life and work in harmony. From our workshop in Basthorst we steadily and persistently developed our business.
In 1997 my wife passed the trade examination as master craftswoman for shoemaking with the grade ›very good‹ and turned ›Klemann Shoes‹ into a recognised master business with letter and seal.
In the meantime our eldest son Lennert also acquired the craft of shoemaking. He passed in 2003 his examination as first Federal winner in the efficiency competition of the German Youth of Handicrafts. In the following years he deepened his skills and started his own business in London. At the time he worked for such established Companies like Taylor & Son in Paddington Street and Georg Cleverly´s in Royal Arcade.
In 2007 Lennert came back into the family business, which moved in the meantime to Hamburg. Today Lennert still works self-employed and builds his own line of Sports shoes and produces for Klemann Shoes and Georg Cleverly´s traditional english handmade bespoke shoes.
In the year 2003 his brother Vincent decided to follow our footprints. He made his three years apprenticeship at Klemann Shoes and finish like his brother as the best Shoemaker in Germany 2006. In the following years Vincent deepened his skills and became a Master Shoemaker in 2011.
Since than Vincent is like his brother a self-employed Master Shoemaker and serves his own customers with Sneakers and casual Footwear and builds Klemann Shoes by traditional methods.
All this, the move into our own Workshop in the City of Hamburg and the fact of 25 years in business makes my wife und me very happy and grateful.