Esquivel opens the door to bespoke and handmade shoes. A new niche?

Covid impacted his bespoke shoe marketing model, which was based on word-of-mouth and Instagram posts. “Before the covid, we killed him on Instagram. For each publication, we sold two to three pairs. But, users are now overwhelmed with advertisements and they have become less effective. There’s “too much noise” on Instagram now, he says.

Esquivel designs coarsely tailored shoes that match both its personal style and its manufacturing capabilities in California, which lacks the extensive fine shoe manufacturing supply chain that exists in Italy and other countries. known for their shoes. Esquivel’s sturdy shoes and boots have rounded toes and sturdy heels, and are often engraved, painted or distressed by hand, a process that can be seen in his LA studio.

The workshop quietly talks about the concept of the Esquivel brand. Up front are shelves of Lola James Harper candles in a custom scent called Esquivel that sell for $65. “You come here and see what my brand is. I don’t need to say a word,” says the designer.

Towards the back, resting on a bench that will be on the studio tour past the cutting tables and cutting machine (which bevels the edges of the leather), are shoe lasts for former clients including Lebron James, Brad Pitt, Yao Ming, Janelle Monáe, Emma Stone and Madonna. Esquivel’s workshop is designed to serve three to five custom clients per day. What makes this possible is that it earns a 95% conversion rate once a customer is in the door, which means almost everyone who makes an appointment will make a purchase. Prices for custom shoes range from $795 to $2,500.

Mitchell Fuerst, president of a system of allied healthcare institutions called Success Education Colleges, heard about Esquivel from friends and made an appointment. “Custom shoemaking is a rare thing, especially in the United States,” says Fuerst. Picking leathers, piping, laces and price choices with his wife was “fun and an experience,” he says. The couple had their names printed on the shoes.

Fuerst recalls encountering the craftsman nailing the soles to the tops of shoes as if he had bumped into Brad Pitt (an Esquivel client). “I talked to him!” he said of the craftsman, his voice rising enthusiastically. “We bought six or seven pairs – something crazy,” notes Fuerst. “I bought a pair from my assistant.”

Luxury brands have traditionally kept the messy manufacturing process behind the scenes, but these days more are welcoming customers inside those walls. While vacationing in Italy last summer, the Fuersts visited the Isaia factory in Naples. The result suggests how factory tours can cement the emotional bond between a customer and a brand. “I think I ordered $10,000 worth of pajamas when I was there,” he laughs.

“We are very lucky. We are a prosperous family. I think most of the time when I shop, the experience is as important as the product. »

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