The octogenarian shoemaker in Saigon

At the age of 88, Trinh Ngoc still makes handmade leather shoes everyday. His store in HCMC’s District 3 has served both local and foreign guests for decades.

The 88-year-old Trinh Ngoc still makes leather shoes by hand day in day out - PHOTOS: VUONG ANH

Ngoc, a native of Bac Lieu Province in the Mekong Delta, left his home province to move to Cambodia when he was 16. He learned to make leather shoes in Cambodia and became an artisan there. Ngoc used to design shoes for Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihanouk and American and French diplomats in Cambodia. As many of Ngoc’s customers were foreigners, he could speak English, French and Chinese fluently.

In 1970, Ngoc returned to Vietnam and chose Saigon as his second chance to start all over again. In 1971, he opened his store in Saigon and found his products selling very well here.

Following the reunification of Vietnam in 1975, Ngoc halted his business for a while to work at a Vietnamese shoe company. Ngoc retired in 1991. However, his strong love for leather shoes has prompted him to reopen his store which is still running now.

His workbench helps him create unique shoe designs

Ngoc says the first step of making leather shoes is drawing parts of shoe on leather

Then, Ngoc will cut the leather

Those parts are sewed

The shoes’ upper and sole are assembled via a shoe mold

Ngoc’s complete pairs of shoes

Ngoc still retains the mold for making the shoes of Cambodia’s late King Norodom Sihanouk

Vuong Anh (SGT)

 
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