A small shoemaker shop has nestled at the Zagreb Flower Square in the centre of the capital. There, Antun Lepen, his daughter Zrinka and a master of shoemaking craft create unique women’s shoe models. “My grandfather was a cobbler, and after completing the elementary school I learned the craft by completing the secondary shoemaking education in Borovo and the high technical shoemaking school in Zagreb”, designer Antun Lepen, the owner of the shoe shop with the tradition of manufacturing shoes of more than 25 years started his story.
“I studied design in Italy with the teacher and Italian designer Otello Bertocco”, explains Antun Lepen, who is especially proud of designing models for the most influential names in design: Armani, Prada, Manolo Blahnik and Bruno Magli. “I have designed models for the Italian company Shy, later renamed into Trend, and made models and small series of fashion footwear for the above world’s designers”, he adds. He is particularly proud of winning three first prizes for designing women’s and men’s footwear lines; he also won the Golden Shoe for Design in Belgrade in 1975, and afterwards in Zagreb in 1976 and 1980.
Lepen Design is engaged in designing and professional and high quality manual manufacturing of men’s, women’s and children’s footwear only of natural leather according to the measure, an idea, a drawing or a photo, and also makes shoe repairs. “I am one of the rare people who adore their job and I enjoy everyday creation of shoes,” Antun Lepen explains the main motivation of love for shoemaking and shoe designing. “To be a designer, you have to possess that trait, with inevitable development of the skills through learning”, he notes. In the Lepen’s model range, the emphasis is on the classical women’s evergreen models styled with trendy details depending on the designer’s inspiration.
Antun Lepen constantly follows the Italian trendsetting stylists, inventing his own fashion accessories for the models he creates. He also plans manufacture of men’s models of shoes that will be based on specifically selected soft materials from the classical to trendy designs. “The emphasis in manufacturing of all models is sophisticated manufacturing of only natural materials. I believe in leather as a natural material and I create coherent, complex and soft models”, stresses Antun who, describes himself, without hesitation, as one of the last shoemaking designers in Croatia.
“I have designed models for the main Zagreb cobblers that are now manufactured by their children, and I am still designing for various Italian companies”, Antun retells the background designer’s story. As for the clients, they are both domestic and foreign, and are all delighted that they can choose the type, color, material, height and shape of heels custom-made to their feet. “Keep us for the future”, Antun Lepen appeals referring to the declining interest in shoemaking craft, with the lack of formal education. “I will never retire because I would be really bored. In this way, I design something new every day. I love my job”, concludes Antun Lepen and jokingly says