Since all of Paris closes shop in August, I’ll be posting “by appointment” discoveries made during my summertime travels back home in the USA this month. Hope you enjoy this special summer edition with content from New York and Los Angeles.
Custom. Handmade. Shoes. Say those three words aloud and your mind hops a plane to the fashion capitals of Europe where couture cobbling has been celebrated for centuries. But don’t buy your brain’s tickets just so fast… The special new stomping ground for original, handcrafted shoes is neither in Paris, London or Milan, but in a back alley, by appointment shop in none other than Los Angeles!
Over the last fifteen years Southern California native Georges Esquivel—whose men’s and women’s shoe brand Esquivel Shoes was recently announced as one of the 2009 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalists—has built a mini shoe empire to rival Europe’s leading luxury labels. The best part of all, it happened entirely by chance (ahh, you gotta love America!).
Years before “artisanal” became a marketing buzzword, Esquivel was reworking vintage clothes for his SoCal musician friends. An unexpected jaunt to a cobbler in Mexico spawned his first pair of custom shoes. His friends went wild and started clamoring for their own pairs. Before long Esquivel found a seasoned shoemaker in L.A. to build his designs. To cut costs, Esquivel offered to help out around the shop. “He said, ‘sure, take out the trash,’” recalls Esquivel with a chuckle. “So I went from taking out the trash to organizing the shop and cutting leather. Two-and-a-half years later I knew how to make a pair of shoes.”