A Gem in New York: Leffot

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For such a large (and stylish) city, New York is curiously devoid of good men’s shoe shops. Most of the well-known European brands have outlets here – Berluti, JM Weston, Church’s – but there is little variation outside of that. Unlike London, there is no proliferation of great, local shops (Cleverley, Foster & Son). Even Paris, historically the second string to London for menswear, has some wonderful shoemakers such as Aubercy that do not sell anywhere else.

In New York, variation is limited to the high-end department stores. Their lines vary, stopping and starting with little warning (example: Lidfort at Barney’s). And they’re all up town.

For all these reasons, Leffot (pronounced le-fot) is a breath of fresh air. Located on Christopher Street in the west Village, it has only been running for a month. But the stock is impressive. It carries Aubercy (previously only available in Paris), Gaziano & Girling (only Hawaii in the US), Corthay (only Bergdorf Goodman in NY), Artioli (Baldini and Saks in NY), Edward Green (only relabeled at Ralph Lauren) and the more widely available Church’s and JM Weston.

With five to seven styles in each, the range is not vast. Such is the limited volume of some of these lines that as soon as one line sells out, it takes five months to order more in. One Gaziano & Girling order was delayed because the man who did the hand-stitching on one type of shoe was ill, putting back the delivery time by two weeks. But the range is well chosen – I dare anyone to contend there isn’t something for them, from the chunky, storm welted, double-soled Church’s to the ultra-slim and pointy Artiolis.

Being downtown enables Leffot to carry a more eclectic range of shoes styles and colours. Apparently JM Weston’s best-selling colour uptown is black, despite the tans, reds and even greens on offer. Downtown, black sits in dowdy last place. In fact, Steven Taffel, the personable and welcoming owner of Leffot, tells of one man and his wife who wandered in looking for inspiration. Despite being a conservative, office-bound gentleman, he ended up buying the more extreme pointed Artiolis, as “he already had black oxfords and wore them all week. He wanted something different, something exciting.”

It’s certainly hard not to be excited by the Corthay two-tone shoes in tan calf and brown suede, or the tapered, beveled waist of the Gaziano & Girling shoes. A favourite of The Sartorialist as well, it’s hard not to see this store succeeding. But just to be on the safe side, let’s troop down there and support a start-up company.

P.S. If it’s still there when you go, have a look at the copy of Japanese magazine Last that’s on display. It has step-by-step instructions on how to re-heel your shoes, demonstrates the value of polishing a shoe with champagne, and still has room for better photo shoots than you’ll find in any UK or US magazine. They need to launch an international (read English) version. Now.


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Simon Crompton is a journalist and a style enthusiast living in London, who blogs at permanentstyle.blogspot.com. He has too many suits.

Comments

  1. Alex says:

    I tend to shop for shoes in Florence and Milan. Sometimes Rome. Greece and Spain have great shoes as well. New York hasn’t competed in the fashion world for quite sometime. Moscow has great shoes as well.

  2. Nicola Linza says:

    Simon,
    This store is a brilliant addition to New York men’s retail. Unlike years ago when the major luxury stores set the pace by introducing new quality, many of the large uptown New York stores today are way behind in recognizing new outstanding quality, as it appears. This store Leffot is way ahead of the curve, and having Gaziano & Girling at Leffot in New York says everything about them to me. I am very impressed by what they have created. Gaziano & Girling are well deserving of the recent attention they are receiving in the US. They have been on my ‘first choice’ list from the day I received notice from Tony that he was leaving Edward Green to move into this venture. In my opinion, their (Gaziano & Girling) work is outstandingly pure, solid quality; it represents, truly, the finest craftsmanship and design today in men’s shoes.
    Thanks Simon for brining Leffot to our attention, they certainly are as you say, a “Gem” in New York.
    Nicola

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