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George Esquivel on Making Highly Coveted Shoes for A-Listers

By Kathryn Romeyn | September 12, 2019 | Style & Beauty National

Celebs’ favorite custom cobbler, George Esquivel, opens an Arts District footwear destination as elegant as his process.

George Esquivel rocks his Oscar in pink suede shoes ($975) in his about-to-open Downtown shop, surrounded by some of his chicest, “celeb-rated” styles.

What do Janelle Monáe and Brad Pitt have in common? Gorgeously made shoes by George Esquivel. Laura Dern runs around in his brogues and ankle boots. DeAndre Jordan balls in tan suede Chelsea boots. Michelle Monaghan struts in her gold mules.

More and more of Hollywood is discovering the magic and artistry of Esquivel’s impeccably handmadein-LA footwear. And with the opening of Esquivel Atelier—a fluid by-appointment showroom, workshop and retail space “right around the corner from Bestia, down the street from the new Soho House and directly across from the new Warner Music Group building”— he’s opening the door for more to witness it too.

“The craftsmanship is put on display as soon as you walk in,” says the 48-year-old LA native and shoemaking savant of the design that highlights his atelier—where up to 10 craftsmen work on painted white sewing machines and painstakingly handcut and -roll leather shoelaces— from every angle. “Yes, our product is on display, but to me, who we are is the craft,” he adds.

For the 6,700-square-foot space, Esquivel drew major inspiration from the raw, clean Newport Beach boutique A’maree’s—think white cinderblock, polished concrete, natural wood, rolled aluminum shelving, a custom broken-in leather sofa and even cabinets matching the burnished leather effect for which Esquivel is famous. On view: his signature made-to-measure Esquivel label, folios and totes in exotic skins, as well as Esquivel X, a more approachably priced collection produced overseas benefiting a cause (i.e., sneakers made in Mexico that support an orphanage there). Also on offer: a curated selection of Esquivel’s favorite things discovered on his travels, from design books and pearl jewelry by Will Hannigan to a collaborative candle and room spray conceived by the creatives behind Colette’s scents.

Ultimately, selling a $4,500 pair of highly customized kicks isn’t the point. “The goal is for you to fall in love with the process,” Esquivel says. And peeking behind the scenes produces undeniable understanding of how much love goes into each shoe—down to the handpainted and -distressed leather, as well as initials, birthdate or symbols engraved on the soles. “I get excited when I see people’s eyes light up,” says Esquivel enthusiastically. “This is how luxury should be done, and it has nothing to do with price point. It’s the experience.” 820 S. Santa Fe Ave.