Wootten – the art of leather-crafting

THE art of leather-crafting has been embedded in Ballarat’s cultural history since the gold-rush. The mid-19th century brought with it an unprecedented creative movement, and leathercrafting was just one of the trades that took pride of place amongst the likes of blacksmithing, wheelwrighting, and woodsmithing.

So it really came as no surprise that former Prahran resident Jess Cameron-Wootten and his partner Krystina Menegazzo decided to relocate their business Wootten to Ballarat.

“Ballarat was an obvious choice – there is so much happening in this regional city, so many amazing old spaces and a great amount of support,” Jess says.

Wootten is a team of bespoke shoemakers possessing more than 40 years of combined experience. The venture itself dates back to the the early 1970s when Jess’s dad, Ross Wootten, began making footwear under the tutelage of Bulgarian Master Craftsman and internationally-renowned shoemaker, George Koleff.

Jess remembers sitting in the corner of his father’s tiny studio and marvelling at the care taken to craft shoes from scratch. Four decades on, and he continues his father’s tradition as Wootten’s lead cordwainer.

“Our vision is to be able to offer a high quality, durable and refined range which we will continue to make locally, to try and maintain what is increasingly an industry in decline in Australia,’ Jess explains. It’s more important than ever for him to protect this historic industry, particularly in light of the recent sales of RM Williams and LVMH, which is now 100% foreign owned.

Considering Ballarat’s history of shoemaking (Rivers and Olivers used to produce footwear in the city), it certainly seems like Wootten has found an appropriate home base.

Working out of Ballarat’s old Gun Cotton Factory (just down the road from the couple’s home in Gordon), Wootten’s new workshop has also enabled Jess and Krystina to expand their offering, adding leather bags and accessories to their premium range of handmade leather products.

“Ballarat is an amazingly capable city,’ Jess explains. “Our neighbours are incredibly helpful and there is a real sense of looking out for one another and an excitement for the future.”

Click here to find out more about the Wootten story on The Design Files.


Wootten Workshop Ballarat, Shed 1 - Gun Cotton Warehouses, 20 Elizabeth Street, Delacombe, VIC 3356

03 9510 6503


Thursday 11am - 7pm

Friday 11am - 6pm

Saturday - Wednesday Closed

Stay & Play

Plate Up

Now in its second year, the month-long festival will showcase the region’s best growers, producers, chefs, restaurants and cafes this May 1 to 31. The festival’s line-up of more than 50 events will feature lunches and dinners, workshops, markets, food trucks, high teas, fashion, live music, competitions, and guided beer, wine, whisky and gin tastings.


The Provincial Hotel

A new luxury boutique hotel and restaurant offering has re-opened the doors of one of Ballarat’s most iconic heritage buildings. The boutique hotel and restaurant provides luxury, timeless beauty and quality nestled within regional Victoria’s western highlands.



Enter the ominous walls of a 19th century Masonic Lodge and wander through Ballarat’s contemporary art space The Lost Ones. Venture further below to the speakeasy-like basement bar and delight in tapas, wine and spirits as you while the evening away to a tune or two.