Ali Güven (68) has been hand-making leather sandals for the last 40 years in Bodrum.
Ali Güven (68) has been hand-making leather sandals for the last 40 years in Bodrum. Ali uses specially produced leather that does not cause perspiration or fungus. The leather is processed using Tannic Acid extracted from the bark of the Vallonea Oak tree and to the best of Ali’s knowledge there is only one remaining company that can produce this type of leather and they are based in Milas, near Bodrum.
Ali says that if they stop production he cannot continue to make the sandals for which he has become famous. Ali is also concerned that there is hardly anyone left to continue the tradition of the sandal craftsman. So far Ali has taught his art to seven apprentices but they all went their own way. Some went to Scotland some to the United States. ”Those staying in Bodrum have other jobs,” Güven said, adding that his only assistant now was Ada Basmaci, who has been working with him for five years.
Working from a small shop in a Bodrum bazaar Ali said that he receives orders from all over the world and has famous male and female clients worldwide as well as from Turkey’s fashion and business circles. He has designed sandals for famous fashion designers including Donna Karan and Lakis Gavalas. To try and keep his craft alive Ali plans to collate all his knowledge, skills, designs and ideas into a book. Ali says that from starting 40 years ago as a shoemaker he has created a world brand for his sandals and he will be very sad if the sandal craftmans traditional skills completely die out.