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September 25, 2017

Happiness is handmade

A new shop front and a foray into custom shoes have given former Hutt Street stalwart - shoe repairer Federico & Sons – fresh life.

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  • Story: Sharmonie Cockayne

Not too far out of the CBD, in a tiny shop front on Findon Road, Roger Trombetta continues and extends a tradition that was forged by his Father over decades in a Hutt Street store.


Federico & Sons are can be found in Shop 1, 129 Findon Road
Adelaide, South Australia, SA 5023.

The Findon Road shop bears the same name as that which adorned the CBD store many years ago – Federico & Sons. Under that banner, Roger repairs shoes, leather goods and accessories, upkeeps Adelaide United players’ footwear, and designs and custom-makes shoes by commission – all using the skills his father – Federico Trombetta – passed down.

Federico was born in Padova, Italy, and migrated to Australia at the age of 16. After working as a tiler, he ventured into the shoe repairs business, setting up the Hutt Street location, and there he stayed.

Roger got involved in the business almost by accident, pitching in when his father needed help.

“I left school, I did a fitter and turner apprenticeship, and my Dad was in Hutt Street,” says Roger. “The guy he had working for him broke his arm, and he said ‘listen, I need someone, I’m so busy, come with me for a while.’ Twenty nine years later I’m still there.”

But, just like any great story, Roger’s journey to occupational happiness was not without challenges.

Earlier this decade, Roger moved Federico & Sons to Marion. It was busy, but after a few years, he became disenfranchised by the expense of it all. He shut up shop for a year a half. In that time, he worked in engineering, which was, he says, not for him.

One day, on his daily commute to work, he noticed the Findon space was empty. He called his wife, called the land owner, quit his job, and Federico & Sons was back in business.

Seven months on, and we’re standing in the shop chatting over a homemade Italian biscuit, baked over the weekend by Roger’s sister in law, and watching him build upon the family trade. Custom-making shoes is a fresh addition to the Federico & Son’s business, and allows Roger to apply his old skills in a new way.

Roger will spend 12-15 hours on each pair of custom shoes, designing exactly to the brief, and fitting them exactly to each customer’s measurements using leathers sourced from local retailers.

He says that it’s a creative outlet that allows him to draw on his natural disposition for design, and also the skills he learned in his trade before he began working for and learning from his father.

Roger says the clock was one of those golden op shop finds.

Surrounded by the machines of his trade, all of which have been in his family for years and have been restored by Roger himself, it’s clear just how much love the Trombetta family have invested in the business.

And now, with the business back and expanding into making footwear, Roger’s excitement is palpable.


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