The only handcrafted shoe firm in America.|Cydwoq founder, Rafi Balouzian comes from a long line of master shoe-makers. In the early 1900's, his great grandfather earned the reputation as a true artisan, crafting custom-made shoes to discriminating customers in Armenia. As a child, Balouzian grew up around his father's shoe factory, drawing the shoe making process into his blood. It was also on trips with his father to Italy and France that the young Balouzian was exposed to those nations' great handcrafted leather artists, learning the materials and techniques, molding them with crafts, which made his family's products the ultimate shoes of the region. Rafi has continued the family tradition by obtaining a degree in architecture, which influences his designs.|His son, Ari, the seventh generation of the family artistry, designs for the line and is also the company's Creative Director. Ari initiates styles, which place CYDWOQ shoes in a place of fashion leadership for the young, powerful and famous in that special place of glamour.|After a hundred and twenty years of expertise in the art of handcrafted shoes, the tradition began again. The CYDWOQ factory opened its doors in Burbank, California in 1996. The company's mission was then, and still remains, to create hand-crafted shoes using the best leathers that provide the ultimate walking comfort in unique and timeless designs. Rafi, having been taught by his father from an early age to appreciate the artistry and quality of vegetable-tanned leathers, makes sure that to this day, rolls and rolls of the best Italian hand-painted leathers line the walls of the CYDWOQ factory. Natural choices dominate the CYDWOQ product. In shoe construction, the uppers are hand-lasted to the leather insoles using water-based biodegradable glues. Once inspected, the shoes are packed in distinctive cotton bags and recycled cardboard boxes. It is one of the world's most ecologically responsible shoe firms, setting the bar for a greener shoe world.|The design in CYDWOQ is based on an architectural approach of modifying and creating new constructions while using a handmade process to create shoes that are timeless as well as unique. Influences in the designs come from nature (in terms of shapes used and natural finishes), architecture, automobile design (in creating lines that complement the shape of the foot) as well as old films (in terms of materials used as well as modifying classic shapes).|CYDWOQ's construction alone sets them apart. Their shoes are the only all leather shoes that have the insole (footbed) and the outsole contoured with the shape of the foot to facilitate the walking process. CYDWOQ is also distinguished from other shoe companies by the fact that its shoe components are manufactured at the CYDWOQ factory. Where other shoe companies only make the uppers and purchase the components from third parties, CYDWOQ manufactures the complete shoe with 90% of the components (heels, insoles, outsoles, wooden soles) constructed in-house. How is it done? On one side of the factory, the shoe-makers hand-cut the leather bottoms and shape the insoles and soles to the shape of the foot while other craftsmen hand-cut and sand the custom wooden heels. On the other side, shoe-makers sew the uppers and attach them to the lasts using water-based glues. Once completed, the soles and uppers meet in the center of the factory for final assembly, hand-painting, cleaning and quality control.|
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