Interviewing G. Bruce Boyer at LeatherFoot Emporium
It is a good time of year for reflection. And when I turn my mind back to how much happened in Toronto’s classic men’s style industry in 2016, there is a lot to feel positive about. This really hit me while speaking with Simon Crompton, the UK’s leading voice on luxury and bespoke. He passed through town a couple of weeks ago and we met up at LeatherFoot Emporium. As he browsed all the newly arrived stock – including Viola Milano ties, Fox umbrellas and piles and piles of Carmina shoes – he commented on how there just wasn’t anything like it in London. I was a bit shocked to hear that in one of the world’s major style capitals you could not find a shop like LeatherFoot – in other words, a place that has so much variety of such high quality products (never mind also having a world class tailor on site).
And so I feel like celebrating what this city has to offer. I’ll start with LeatherFoot which has seen a huge transformation this year, going from a small shoe and accessory shop on Bellair to a major hub of classic men’s style at their 82 Avenue Road location. I was thankful to participate in their author series in the spring which brought Simon to town, along with French blogger Hugo Jacomet of Parisian Gentleman and the finest men’s style writer anywhere G. Bruce Boyer. The new LeatherFoot Emporium has become the place in Toronto to find some of the finest crafted clothes, shoes and accessories not only in this city and country, but – according to The Rake Magazine – one of the best in the world. This is all topped off, of course, by their in house tailor (who I’ve profiled before) Signor Francesco:
Footwear is thriving elsewhere in the city as well. There is, of course, our very own Florentine-trained shoe maker Peter Feeney who continues to ply his trade. We are also keeping up when it comes to the patina footwear movement, thanks to Emmanuel Farre. He has expanded his services from simply working on shoes sold at Loding (which itself is growing and opening new locations) to start his own brand Maison Patina. He will apply his patina to any leather object you wish but most excitingly he has launched his own line of leatherworks. They are crafted here in Toronto and sold exclusively at Loding and Betty Hemmings in Yorkville. The latter, I am happy to say, was a pleasant discovery I made earlier this year, offering truly top class leathergoods from some of Europe’s finest makers.
Emmanuel Farre of Maison Patina
Another craftsman I think all Torontonians can be proud to call our own is Stephen Temkin who makes some of the finest dress hats anywhere as Leon Drexler. And as chance would have it, Leon Drexler will soon be available through LeatherFoot Emporium, with Stephen taking orders at the shop (but still constructing the hats at his home studio).
Stephen Temkin of Leon Drexler hats.
We are also fortunate to have a couple of remarkable sources for raw materials. Sultan’s Fine Fabrics is unique not only in Toronto but in all of North America for its vast and varied selection of suitings and shirtings, as well as silk, canvas and almost anything else that goes into making a suit or shirt. Another location for fine fabrics is The Fabric Room although what drew me there earlier this year was their staggering selection of high quality buttons, including horn, bone and Corozo.
Just a small part of The Fabric Room’s button selection.
All of this success, however, depends to a large degree on us. Celebrating with words is one thing but support has to come from our wallets. I implore every Torontonian who is passionate about their wardrobe to seek out local craftspeople and sellers first, even if it means spending more money than you would online from an overseas vendor. You will not only support them, you will support your entire community, because the more we invest locally the more we all benefit. And that way, hopefully, 2017 will be an even more rakish year in Hogtown.
These are, of course, only the makers and sellers that are on my radar. There are others that I have either not met or not mentioned and I’m curious to hear your thoughts: what are you thankful for, sartorially in Toronto, as 2016 comes to a close? Please comment below with your thoughts.