by Zeva Bellel
Eliminating the need to jet to Europe for a pair of gorgeous, handmade shoes, the new destination for custom soles isn't in Paris, London or Milan but in a back alley, by-appointment-shop in Los Angeles. Over the last fifteen years, Southern California native Georges Esquivel (recently announced as a 2009 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist) has built a mini shoe empire to rival Europe's leading luxury brands.
Inspired by retro fashion, punk and the irreverent vibe of his city, the infectious high-low result blends painstaking execution, classic silhouettes and kick-ass character. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, members of the band The Killers and Diane Von Furstenberg—who recently went bonkers for the Monica boot—represent just handful of his well-heeled clients.
The secret to Esquivelâs success is the individualism and intimacy he offers his clients. "You go to any luxury brand you and donât know who's making your shoes, where theyâre being made. I'm not about that," says Esquivel, who still fits many of his custom clients.
After creating a prototype with his head craftsman, his team of artisans use the finest hides from Norway to make every pair by hand. Because they craft each shoe individually, there's no production problems if the color of the leather, toe shape, soles, insoles or linings are altered on the original design.
That means clients can have their shoes customized easily and for little extra cost. With your fit and design perfect, the only excruciating element is the wait.
Three price tiers correspond to the level of customization. Full Customs start at $3,000, including foot measurements, creation of a last (aka shoe mold), fittings, the prototype and limitless options from exotic skins to gold buckles. Otherwise, Esquivel offers existing models which customers can personalize with color, sole and upper design and a small series of ready-to-wear models available from retailers.
Contact Esquivel through email (info [at] esquivelshoes [dot] com) or by phone (+1 714 670 2200) to inquire.
Check out more images after the jump.