In The Know with Leffot
WHO. There’s no other store like New York’s Leffot, a veritable temple to handmade men’s shoes. These aren’t the glued, plasticized abominations coming out haute fashion houses; Leffot sells real, welted, all leather shoes made by highly trained craftsmen. The ready to wear selection is as good as anywhere in the world but the shop’s real specialty is advising clients on the almost limitless options available with bespoke services. This week we spoke with owner, Steven Taffel, about the things and places he loves.
Q. What are you wearing today?
A. Today I’m wearing a pair of Buckler jeans, a French blue shirt by Prada, and a pair of Church’s full brogues in English Tan, which I guess I’ve had for about a year. I find they wear in very well, and they’re the kind of shoes that are made to expire after you do.
Q. What’s your favorite brand of shoe?
A. A very unfair question! That’s like asking me to pick my favorite child, but if I must pick, I would have to say at the moment, it’s Pierre Corthay, Gaziano & Girling, and probably Edward Green. Each brand makes really beautiful, well-built shoes and has their own unique and finely developed style.
Q. Most of the shoes you sell are top of the line and priced accordingly – what about an entry level brand?
A. It’s hard to find a decent shoe that’s truly cheap, but at the low end of the scale, Alden makes great shoes that are affordable for the quality you get, as are Church’s. These shoes are welted, which means you can have them resoled. Take care of them and they’ll last you decades, so consider that when buying.
Q. What do you do if you get your nice shoes soaked in the rain?
A. Rain can certainly be damaging – if I happen to get caught in the rain I usually stuff the shoes with newspaper instead of a shoe tree, and then lay them on their side to help the soles dry out. Once they dry though make sure to put shoes trees in. More than anything else you can do, shoes trees help shoesl last longer, hold their shape, keep looking new.
Q. Where do you grab a drink after work?
A. There are a couple places around here that I like, Wilfie & Nell over on West 4th Street by 7th avenue where I can get a good dark draft beer, and Morandi on Waverly and 7th Avenue, which makes a really great Manhattan.
Q. How about dinner?
A. Txikito on 9th between 24th and 25th is great for tapas. It’s Basque, so the flavors are interesting, and the atmosphere is a perfect for a date.
Q. Okay, very important question – who’s your cobbler of choice?
A. James Custom Shoe Repair, up on Lexington in the 90’s. I like them because they aren’t just about doing it quick and cheap; they take their time and take care in handling shoes. It’s a difficult quality to find in a cobbler.
Q. Some of these shoes have a very distinctive look – any tips on what you would wear with them?
A. Lots of customers ask that question, but I think every shoe in this store goes with jeans, and that’s how I wear them. We try to get guys to understand that nice shoes aren’t just for the office but work just as well with more casual clothes.
Q. What’s next for your label?
A. Well, we just began selling hats in the store, so we’re excited about that, and we’ve recently started to carry Church’s women’s line. We always try to find well made accessories that our customers will enjoy, so we’re constantly adding distinctive items like shoe care products, belts, and other special items. You’ll just have to stop by!
WHERE. Leffot – 10 Christopher St., New York, NY 10014. For more information start reading Leffot’s blog, a great source for men who love shoes.