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The first thing you need to make a shoe is a last.

That’s not quite true: first you need to outline the sole, like a child with crayon. That guides you down the shop’s row of foot-shaped lasts. Cordovan’s shop is the top landing in a stairway with a broken roof lock. His rock maple lasts are pristine.

You don’t go to Cordovan for penny loafers; you go for the shoes in which they’ll never catch you. You go for the blessings he sews into them, the names of the Knights of St. Crispin, lip to tongue to feather edge.