Traditional craftsmanship is something to be treasured, respected, and appreciated. The adage “they don’t make ’em like they used to” rings true for vintage shoe collector and store owner of Vintage Ziggy, Pat Griffin. Trained as an architect passionate about ecological sustainability, he has developed an eye and appreciation for good design and structure and places a high value on quality. Taking time out from architecture, Pat’s hobby of restoring traditional vintage and quirky retro leather treads quickly grew from selling his refurbished finds at local vintage markets around Byron Bay to opening up an online store to make his shoes available to all far and wide.
Growing up, if you lived in your lace-up Doc Martens, Blundstones, or RM Williams daily, you would know the close affinity you developed with these shoes. Their supple leather is molded to your foot just so. Putting them on was like putting on a pair of slippers. They gave you street cred and reflected your personality. Then somewhere along the line, you got all serious, and formal uncomfortable shoes became the mainstay of your wardrobe. Perhaps I’m talking too much from personal experience? Looking through Pat’s covetable shoe collection reminded me of my brown RM Williams still sitting at the back of the cupboard. They haven’t been worn in 15 years, but I can’t bear to part with them. After speaking with Pat (read below), I think I might get them out for the upcoming winter season.
What is it about vintage shoes and boots you love? In stark contrast to the contemporary “fast fashion” phenomenon, vintage boots ooze with quality and character. There is something very tactile about them. I loved the bygone era of craftsmanship when boots were built to last; they can be polished, conditioned, repaired, resoled, and reused. Even as they age, every wrinkle tells a story.
Why did you start the store? After finishing my architecture degree, I wanted to do something different for a while, and restoring and selling vintage boots only started as a hobby. With my background in design and ecological sustainability, I saw restoring leather goods as a great way to address today’s culture of disposable footwear.
I started selling in conventional vintage markets, but I began marketing my boots online after a severe back injury. An Etsy store was an ideal format for a small and independent vendor. The Etsy philosophy also resonates with many of my values, particularly regarding bespoke and vintage craftsmanship.
What are your favorite pair of boots? It’s almost too hard to choose just one pair of boots. My size is a Men’s 12, so sadly, most of my collection won’t fit me. I grew up wearing old secondhand Baxter and Blundstone boots, so I have a soft spot for all things Australian-made. My current pride and joy is a pair of black Cuban-heeled R.M. Williams boots. There is something quite timeless about Australian Chelsea riding boots.
If I had more bravado, my favorite boots in my store would be ‘Brown Chippewa Logger Boots .’Made in the USA in the ‘80s, the thick leather has a rich, warm glow. The Cuban heel and tapered calf hints at how they may have been worn with logging harnesses or spurs.