The Clicking Department is the first stage of production. The highly skilled Clickers (whose name derives from the ‘click’ sound made when the knife is removed from the leather) use predetermined patterns to intricately cut the shoe’s uppers and linings.
Today, the department is made with a mixture of experienced hands (some with over 40 years’ experience) and trainees. The younger members begin with cutting the leather linings, leaving the experienced clickers to focus on cutting the upper leather, whilst slowly passing on their years of expertise.
A Clicker’s knife is totally unique to the Clicker. Each operative design and grind the blade of their knife to their own personal taste and working preference.
Each clicking blade takes around 15-20 minutes to craft: 5-10 minutes to ‘fetch’ the blade, around 5 minutes to grind and several minutes to perfect the blade on the strop (a piece of wood coated in thick cordovan leather). Although a clicking blade only lasts a few weeks (or even days), the handles can last for decades upon decades.
A Clicker’s main responsibility is to examine the leather for defects and to ensure these are not included in the shoes. Leather defects can be found in the form of barbed wire or disease scars, growth marks or veins. An experienced Clicker needs to be knowledgeable and highly skilled, in order to maximize the usage whilst retaining the utmost quality.