Esquivel Footwear: Casual Sophistication Made in California
Joseph DeAcetis Contributor Style & Beauty | Forbes.com
It is said that if you would like to know if a gentlemen is well dressed, then look down at his shoes. There is also a theory that any man who respects quality footwear is more than likely to achieve success because essentially, he understands the value of working his way up from the bottom. In a word, footwear articulates a man’s style not to mention his social position.
The history of footwear is a long one. The first shoes were basically soles constructed from wood or leather. It pains me to think how uncomfortable not to mention unsanitary these first shoes must have been. At first they were secured by leather straps or the like that kept them from falling off. Luckily, we have surely come a long way since then. The reason leather had become popular is because it breathes. Henceforth, when footwear started to enclose around the foot, leather permitted the air to circulate. The need from the start had been durability and believe it or not, that is still a key feature for today’s consumer. In a man’s life time, it is estimated that we walk 120,000 miles give or take a mile. It is no wonder that Leonardo da Vinci called the foot a masterpiece of engineering as well as a work of art. In modern times, I have witnessed footwear being delivered in all shapes and sizes. But one thing is for sure; the rule still applies that footwear should have a direct relationship to the cut of the trousers. While black dress shoes have always been considered obligatory for suiting’s, these days interesting color waves and laces offer equal refinement if not superior style.
Welcome George Esquival. This isa brand that combines a modern aesthetic with a timeless sensibility, all with a Southern California, casual sophistication. Producing a limited quantity of hand-made shoes for select retailers and personal clients throughout the world, Esquivel is able to tell a story with each pair through signature hand finishes and a refined finesse developed over two decades of practice. Leathers are sourced from the finest tanneries in the world, and every line cut and stitch sewn by hand to create an unmistakable footprint. He has made shoes for everyone from Lebron James to Brad Pitt among many others.
EsquivelESQUIVELSouthern California sophistication comprises the essence of the Esquivel brand. You see, these shoes are luxury made for everyday wear. Creating each shoe individually allows for unique, one-of-a-kind styles to exude elegance and quiet sensibility. The art of handcrafting with leathers sourced from the best tanneries in the world is not something that is taken lightly. Every piece tells the story of a commitment to artistry that allows Esquivel to always transcend fashion traditions and reinvent the aesthetic for the current wardrobe. Gorgeous lines and polished textures are the hallmark of these shoes.
George Esquivel, California-based designer and craftsman for 17-years, has operated his namesake brand from an atelier in Orange County, California for the latter decade. His specialized atelier produces a maximum capacity of 3,000 pairs of entirely hand-made shoes, men’s and women’s designated for select retailers and personal clients throughout the world. Trained in shoemaking, George designs with a hands-on approach, working closely with his team of craftsmen that he has personally mentored. Esquivel has recently signed with literary agent, Dupree Miller, and is working on his first book that chronicles growing up homeless to becoming a shoemaker to some of the most recognizable people in the world.
I recently had the privilege of speaking with George Esquivel Founder and Creative Director about brand heritage, growth strategy and what a positive outlook and Made-in-California is all about!
Joseph DeAcetis: In your words, talk to us about the history and comparative advantage of Esquivel Shoes?
George Esquivel: My history is we have been grinding it out building the brand brick by brick as the saying goes. I feel that by properly establishing our brand, by putting in the time and effort rather than rushing the process, we have a great understanding of who we are and what our strengths and weaknesses are. We also have a really good grasp of who our customers are and how to grow that base.
JD: What does Made in USA mean to you and your brand?
GE: For me Made is USA, is a very general term as the country is so large. I like to focus on Made in USA but specifically Made in California. This is where I grew up, and this is where I call home. I think us Southern Californians are a different breed. I think having Hollywood, the beautiful landscapes of the beaches, the snow, the mountains all in such close proximity, combined with many months of Sunny weather. Many of us have the attitude of anything is possible. So we just make things, happen. Not saying that doesn’t happen in other parts of the country, but here we have a different disposition, more of a positive disposition due to the lack of harsh elements we have to battle.
JD: What makes Esquivel unique
GE: I think what makes us unique is we are an experiential brand. Meaning the entire process from making the shoes to the customer receiving and opening the box when it arrives, is all about a beautiful story and experience of handcrafted? When we spoke we discussed the beautiful nature of exclusivity and paying attention to all the details of small/limited production, really focusing on the beauty of the craft, rather than how quickly we can grow. Other brands either have no interest in this process ( it’s truly a labor of love) or it won’t work for them as they may be too large to properly focus on making products the way we do it. The second part of what makes us unique is our aesthetic, we are a Southern California brand, and that is designed into all of our products for both men and women. A bit casual, a bit sophisticated, mixing of old world techniques with modern pallets I think the end result is the perfect amount of rebelliousness.
JD: Any tips on how, where and when to wear shoes –
GE: I think they should be worn with anything and often. It’s all about the attitude. One of my clients Jerri McKenna , her and her husband have a very well known and successful family business (McKenna car dealerships of Audi, Porsche, BMW…) . She wears my boots with a lot of outfits but my favorite is when she wore our tough looking black ankle boots with a beautiful feminine pink skirt and white blouse.
JD: How has technology played a role ( if any) in producing and e-commerce for your brand.
GE: commerce has played a major role for us. It has allowed us to be freer as to how we will start to represent our brand. I have more freedom to develop the collection and my brand not just for our retail partners but also for our individual clients. I now can really focus and bring to market other categories and items that I have either designed for other brands or our personal clients are asking for. We are currently in phase 2 of 10 for our website/commerce platform.
JD: If you could have one celebrity wear your shoes, who would it be? And why?
GE: I would like to see Angelina Jolie wearing Esquivel shoes because her style embodies our brand. Her style doesn’t scream look at me, but she always looks great and put together. I also admire how much she gives back/ her philanthropic endeavors.
JD: What is your growth strategy for the next five years and how do you intend to achieve those goals.
GE: Staying true to who we are and customer service is our growth strategy and it’s how we intend to achieve our future goals. There are 2 types of people purchasing products in our category, those that want true craft and those that want hype. We want the customer that wants true craft. That customer is worldly and very knowledgeable. They really don’t care what other people are wearing they just like beautiful well made products. That customer also demands the full package, an experience, customer service, unique well made products. I think what will help us stay focused on our goals is to always see our clients not as clients but as investors into our brand. Because of them investing into our brand we have grown and will continue to grow.
Visit our shop at georgesquivel.com.