From Iceland — The Village People: Daníel the Cobbler

The Village People: Daníel the Cobbler

Published February 14, 2023

The Village People: Daníel the Cobbler
Photo by
Art Bicnick

The Village People is a new series of interviews with the people who make life in Reykjavík run in subtle yet crucial ways, while giving it colour and character.

Full name & age: Daníel Magnússon, 31

Occupation: Shoemaker (Þráinn Skóari)

Place of residence & birth: Lives in Kópavogur, born in Reykjavík

Most recent music, movie, show, or book that left an impression on you: Mob Psycho 100. It’s this anime about this little kid with mystic powers but he doesn’t really believe in himself and he’s usually just really occupied with elementary school social standings.

What other profession would you like to try if there were no limits: Astronaut. I wanted to do that as a kid.

Photo by Art Bicnick

Did you ever expect when you were a kid that you’d grow up to be a shoemaker? Not at all. I probably didn’t know it existed. Well, yeah, I did. It was a story I read as a kid, The Elves and The Shoemaker. But I never thought I’d be one.

What are your favourite and most loathed types of footwear? My favourite is just a handmade quality pair of boots that do right by the foot. My least would be mass-produced crap that costs like 10 euros and falls apart after a couple of steps. It’s not environmental and it messes up your feet.

What about actually working with the shoe? That goes back to working on quality shoes. Sometimes you have to be a chemist with different shoes and different materials. What bonds to what? Do you need to get new materials? It’s kind of hit or miss. I can kind of suspect things, but it’s still kind of a mystery. There are tons of materials used in shoes and you have thirty different soling materials. Some of those materials are not friends! You gotta do a lot of stuff to get them to work together. It’s kind of a pain in the ass, but when you get it done you’re like, “this will stay forever. If I ever see that type of shoe again, I know exactly what to do.” It’s fun and frustrating at the same time.

What does the footwear we choose say about our souls? We were just talking about that. I found this TikTok video because [an employee] likes wearing crocs and I hate them. The video was describing different personalities based on what shoes they pick, and it said “Crocs: you see those little holes? That’s where their dignity leaks out.”

Does shoemaking require having a foot fetish? I can say that I have zero percent foot fetish. But maybe some sort of leather fetish. Not in a sexual way, that kind of came out wrong! Not judging! Like a fetish for quality leather.

Photo by Art Bicnick

Any notable customer stories you can share? When I was an apprentice, this woman came in really flushed in her face, really red, looking down and said, “I was wondering if you change zippers on leather products.” And I was like, “yeah sure.” And then she says, “this is for a movie…” She was so embarrassed that I was sure it was not for a movie. Then she pulled out this full-head leather gimp mask with a zipper on the mouth. She said she had cleaned it. And I’m like, “Yeah! Sure! Let’s do it!”

I also had one guy bring a whip that needed to be sewn together. He said it was for horses but, nah. You’re not using that on horses!

Any final shoe wisdom to share? Spend a little bit extra, you’ll save in the long run.

Want to nominate a Village Person to appear in the pages of the Reykjavík Grapevine? Send submissions to

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