The Row vs. Esquivel Shoes: What’s the difference?

There’s something about some luxury brands that beg explanation. The Row, for example, is ultra-luxurious without obviously appearing so. It’s understatedly elegant, not sexy or exceptionally youthful. It’s chic, and it’s appropriate. Most importantly, it’s wearable, because it uses neutral shades and clean shapes.

Esquivel, on the other hand, is a much smaller brand with a different approach to design but the same clientele.

How can this be, you wonder? What are the main differences between The Row and Esquivel, exactly, and what more do they have in common? Read on to find out.

The Row: A luxury fashion brand that’s sharp yet subversive, and understated yet high profile

A brand founded by former child stars Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen in 2006, The Row celebrates minimalism and sophistication in all of its collections. (Its name was inspired by London’s Savile Row, a street that’s home to the world’s best bespoke tailors.) Essentially, the collections consist of many basics, like tanks, cardigans, cigarette pants and knits. Their extravagance—they are, after all, extravagant—is rooted in how gracefully and, dare I say, flawlessly the designers execute simplicity.

And this level of luxury is not only highly sought after, but it holds its value on resale sites like The RealReal in the same way as heritage brands do. Before Barneys shuttered, The Row was the number-one-selling ready-to-wear brand, according to The Cut.

“A client walked in,” Marina Larroudé, former fashion director at Barneys New York, told writer Matthew Schneier, “and bought 30 Row sweaters—three-zero. Of the same crewneck. She bought everything we had in the company in her size so she would never run out of them. $30,000 in crewnecks.” Again, somehow, they make simple designs beautiful—attractive without being flashy or fussy.

The Row is niche in terms of the kind of clothing it offers as well as the pricing. It offers everything from outwear to knitwear to dresses, skirts, denim and trousers. In footwear, there are sandals, mules, pumps, flats and boots. And accessory offerings include handbags, wallets, hats, gloves and scarves. It also has a men’s line. The most inexpensive item on the website is a wool and cashmere scrunchie for $125. A long sleeve cotton shirt can cost upwards of $500. Current footwear offers start at $690 and caps at $2,000. However, there are no logos to identify the caliber of the garments.

Of course, The Row’s products are made with high-quality materials. And as I’ve mentioned before, high-quality, not necessarily Italian, but certainly European materials, propel leather goods into the luxury category, particularly because such refined materials must be handled with care and precision by knowledgeable craftspeople.


Esquivel: A 21st-century brand with California coolness and fair pricing

Esquivel was founded about 20 years ago with the value of handmade and made-to-order shoe processes in mind. Esquivel started small and grew steadily, so as not to grow too quickly and in turn diminish the integrity of the business, which was, first and foremost, handcrafting shoes for premier retailers and private clients around the globe.

Esquivel may not have scaled like The Row, but that’s because the company values the personalized experience that comes with specializing in made-to-order shoe-making too much to ever lose it. To not only keep but enhance that experience, we opened Esquivel House—the team’s definition of the perfect place to order shoes and everything else for casual yet sophisticated dress. There are only a handful of craftsmen who work on the shoes, which is purposeful because it allows the founders to take a more hands-on approach to design and creation, as well as for better quality control.

The materials used are on par with other luxury brands, but Esquivel doesn’t charge all of the same prices. The sneakers cost less (by about $400) than those by The Row without sacrificing style or comfort, and most styles will cap at $1,500.

As I mentioned in an earlier article, other companies (not necessarily The Row) use less refined materials, like cardboard and sponge, for insoles. However, this sacrifices comfort and quality for the wearer. Esquivel uses leather to provide maximum comfort, supreme quality and, as a result, the best possible value for a pair of shoes.
Boots, shoes and tote bags are more comparable in price to The Row, but that has a lot to do with the fact that our products are handmade in Los Angeles. There are countless steps the cobblers must follow to complete handmade leather goods, and this time and care spent inevitably plays a role in pricing. But when products are made by makers from start to finish, there is an assurance of exceptional quality and one-of-a-kind details. That’s the promise Esquivel makes and fulfills daily.


The Takeaway

Each brand has its appeal and value. Something I say pridefully is that these respective brands are very well-made. Aesthetically, we each have our own perspective, though I like to think we’ve both bred our brands from our values of subtle sophistication and wearability rather than conspicuous branding or overt trendiness. In purchasing a luxury shoe or accessory, you can’t go wrong with either brand, as both are designed with versatility and longevity in mind.

Ready to shop luxury?

As always, this is a guide to help you make the best buying decisions for you. With over 20 years in the fashion industry, Esquivel Shoes takes pride in being a valuable resource for shoppers. To learn more about our handmade shoe and accessory collections, send us a message through this link.

George Esquivel

George Esquivel

George is a Southern California-based designer and craftsman who designed his first pair of shoes in 1994 and began honing his craft thereafter. For over 20 years, he’s operated his namesake brand, Esquivel, which specializes in handmade shoes and accessories. In the last decade, George served as Creative Director of renowned luxury bag and luggage brand Tumi Inc. and as Creative Consultant for Italian heritage brand Fratelli Rossetti, and has collaborated with many others for his own brand. George was a 2009 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist, and has been a CFDA member since 2010. When he’s not working alongside his team of artisans at his atelier, Esquivel House, in Downtown Los Angeles, George is enjoying time with his wife and high school sweetheart, Shelley, and their three grown children. He also loves mountain biking and hosting good friends for dinners and fêtes.