The French high end footwear designer, Christian Louboutin, has been the go to brand for most high profile celebrities. His eccentric footwear ranges from classy dress shoes to his signature spiked loafers. His handcrafted shoes usually well above the four figure mark.
His signature “red-bottoms” also quickly became a fast growing trademark for expensive high heels. GQ sat down with the Christian Louboutin to talk about how he began his business and why he hate clogs shoes. For the full GQ interview, click here.
GQ: Did you have concerns about your aesthetic appealing to men in the way that your women’s shoes do to that audience? To your point earlier, men don’t necessarily think about shoes the same way as women and women react in a very particular way to your designs.
Louboutin: I just enjoyed doing it at the beginning. The answer was there were a lot of guys into what I was doing so that was enough for me. I would have still done it with the biggest joy and not necessarily needed to open the stores. But the response was so quick. We open the New York store and it wasn’t 100 percent ready but in three hours we sold 160 pairs. When I first opened my first men’s store it was in August last year in Paris and Paris is known to be the most deserted city in August. I did not speak about the opening, there was no soft openings, there was nothing. I was on holiday basically, and from the first day it got filled and we thought it’s by accident. And it never stopped. I mean I should knock on wood saying that but it hasn’t stopped since.
GQ: So the reaction in the U.S. has been similar to Paris?
Louboutin: It’s funny, in the states here it’s almost like there’s this culture and I think its born out of a lot of guys who are interested in your brand and are interested in fashion in general. You know, basketball players here who literally wear the latest, hippest things and then the next week they’re in something completely different. Its not even metrosexual, its sort of just in the landscape of American fashion for men.
GQ: Do you have any idea why that is these days?
Louboutin: The spectrum is so vast. I have a lot of sport people that wear the shoes, a lot of singers and entertainers. It goes through that. It’s also that people need to be in a suit on the red carpet and twenty years ago those people who have a tie or bow tie and want their collars to stand out. Now if you look at pictures you see that most guys have the same black suit with the same white shirt. The difference is that the shirts can be open, no bow tie, no ties and the fantasy exists in the shoes. So I think the fashion fantasy shifted from the tie or bow tie to the shoes.
GQ: Guys are definitely more comfortable making a look their own these days. You already mentioned this a bit but at what point did your men’s business necessitate its own shop?
Louboutin: I’m very very close to my stores because I first started with a store in Paris 20 years ago with my office is next door. And 20 years after I opened my first men’s store next to the women’s store, so its all linked and quite close. When I’m in Paris I’m in my office and checking the stores or passing in front of them. When I’m in Italy I’m sleeping in my factory, it’s the same thing. Little by little when I started to put the men’s shoes in the women’s store I was realizing that the proportion, the niche environment I design for women is really dedicated by the proportion of a woman’s shoe. It ended up not working properly. If you put like a big sneaker or a long loafer in a size 12 in a small space that is supposedly dedicated to a high heel size 5, the proportion is just too big. It’s like putting a guy in too small of a suit – it just doesn’t work.