As a very fasionable teenager, I spent a lot of time inside of Florsheim shoe stores. The reason- I had two very close friends that worked at one. Back in the day, the Florsheim brand was the mark of quality for men’s shoes. At that time, Florsheim shoe stores had a strong presence in the marketplace and they were where you could purchase a quality pair of shoes on a teenagers income and still have some cash left for gas and some album purchases (or was that because I was using my friends’ employee discount?). I remember my pair of classic Florsheim Bostonians which are still a staple shoe for men, today. The problem was that Florsheim shoe stores were a little too much on the conservative side at the end of the day. You kinda’ equated them with your grandfather’s shoestore. Years have gone by, since I’ve been in a Florsheim store.
About a month ago, I arrived at a photo shoot to find that my friend and stylist (for the shoot) ,Wes, had run across some pretty interesting boots. As it turns out, they where the ‘tall red suede Brogue boots’ from Florsheim…….. by Duckie Brown. Duckie Brown? The extremely colorful and cutting edge designer label Duckie Brown that’s known for sending models down runways in pink corduroy suits and three-arm sweaters, among other eye-catching and sometimes head-scratching looks. At the time, I was unaware of any “collabo”, but was certain that these boots weren’t my grandfather’s.
Fast forward to last week, as I was taking a 3 a.m. stroll through Soho leaving a recording session in a snow storm and happened upon a (the) Florsheim pop-up store, peering through the window, I could glean that this was not my grandfather’s Florsheim store. I knew that I’d have to return the following day, once the shop was open. I found that the shop, located at 109 Mercer Street, stocked Florsheim by Duckie Brown, as well as, Florsheim and Florsheim Limited. The shop carried preppy footwear of varying silhouettes, styles, colors, and price points and offered accented socks, winter accessories and coffee table books on men’s style. It reminded me of my approach to music, classic style with a very sharp edge.
Anyway, this is how it all went down… a few years back, a high school senior in New Jersey emailed the designers at Duckie Brown saying he loved their clothes and wanted them to make an outfit for him to wear to his high school prom. The designers, Steven Cox and Daniel Silver, thought it over and complied. T0 complete the outfit, the designers had sent the youth a pair of black Florsheim shoes, “with a seventies feel,” left over from a long-ago runway show. Meanwhile, The New Yorker magazine featured the story which so happened to catch the eye of a Florsheim executive that coincidentally had been looking for a high-end designer who could create a line for Florsheim. The article was brought to the attention of chief operating officer John Florsheim who looked up the label on the Internet and set up a meeting with Cox and Silver and the rest is history.
It appears that Mr. Florsheim was convinced that Duckie Brown’s energy and edge could help his brand. “It’s a marriage of opposites, but it actually makes more sense to take something that is offbeat like Duckie Brown and try to marry it with Florsheim,” he says. “They’re going to take something classic and build off of it, think outside the box ,We have to push the envelope and try new things.” Exactly like my approach to music. If some producer gives me a real tricked out soul beat, I’m gonna come real ‘middle of the road’ with the vocal arrangement.. i.e. “Late Early” on Finding Dakota Grey. That’s what gives it the edge.
Anyway, the Pop-Up store in Soho is open Monday through Saturday 11am – 7pm and Sunday 12pm – 6pm. The store will remain open until mid-March and I suggest you don’t miss your chance to experience this retail sanctuary.