The Put This On Holiday Sale
Join me (Jesse) and Raul Ojeda of Don Ville Shoes for the Put This On Holiday Sale, Sunday December 9th, noon to five in Los Angeles. We’ll have literally hundreds of Gentlemen’s Association pocket squares for sale, starting at just $20. There are overruns, samples, short runs and one-of-a-kinds. There are even a few squares we made special for the sale from 1920s Japanese silk. Plus we’ll have PTO DVDs for just $10 and specials on Don Ville’s handmade shoes.
Whether you need a holiday gift for a friend, a loved one or yourself… or you just want free beer, stop by and sayhi.
The Put This On Holiday Sale
Sunday, December 9th, Noon to Five
Don Ville Shoes 
113 North La Brea between Beverly and First, Los Angeles

The Put This On Holiday Sale

Join me (Jesse) and Raul Ojeda of Don Ville Shoes for the Put This On Holiday Sale, Sunday December 9th, noon to five in Los Angeles. We’ll have literally hundreds of Gentlemen’s Association pocket squares for sale, starting at just $20. There are overruns, samples, short runs and one-of-a-kinds. There are even a few squares we made special for the sale from 1920s Japanese silk. Plus we’ll have PTO DVDs for just $10 and specials on Don Ville’s handmade shoes.

Whether you need a holiday gift for a friend, a loved one or yourself… or you just want free beer, stop by and sayhi.

The Put This On Holiday Sale

Sunday, December 9th, Noon to Five

Don Ville Shoes

113 North La Brea between Beverly and First, Los Angeles

A couple of months ago, my barber, Jerry, went into the hospital. It’s happened once or twice since I started visiting him, but all the other times, he was right back at work after a week of recuperation. This time, he wasn’t.

After a month or so of calling the shop and getting a recording, I started worrying. In the past, Jerry’s son has gone into the shop to post a sign and record a message with a status update. I got a haircut elsewhere and fretted.

I just called, shaggy-haired after an unexpectedly long trip to the East Coast, and got the voicemail. It was Jerry, sounding a little tired, announcing that he’d retired.

Jerry was kind and quiet, and he worked at Larchmont Barbershop for more than 55 years. Visiting him was always the highlight of my month.

"Hey, babe. How are you?"

I know Jerry wouldn’t be quitting if it wasn’t important. I wish him all the best in his retirement - he can get a chance to drive his 55-year-old Chevy and spend some time with his wife. I’ll miss him.

Above: our grooming episode, featuring a conversation with Jerry. And if you’re so inclined, here’s a lovely little article about him and his family, who’ve owned the shop since the 50s.

Our friends at Rising Sun, who we featured in our very first episode, are having a very cool-looking party on Saturday night in Los Angeles. It runs from six to nine at 2246 Fair Park Avenue in Eagle Rock. If my past experience with Mike Hodis & Co is any guide, there will be a ton of vintage hot rods and motorbikes, and both men and women in overalls, old leather and applejack caps. Should be a great time.

Our friends at Rising Sun, who we featured in our very first episode, are having a very cool-looking party on Saturday night in Los Angeles. It runs from six to nine at 2246 Fair Park Avenue in Eagle Rock. If my past experience with Mike Hodis & Co is any guide, there will be a ton of vintage hot rods and motorbikes, and both men and women in overalls, old leather and applejack caps. Should be a great time.

A Good Day’s Thrifting
After working every day for a few weeks straight, I took a few hours yesterday to pursue some hobby time. I hopped in the car and headed for the west side of Los Angeles to do some thrifting.
I live in East LA, where there are plenty of thrift stores, but precious little quality menswear on the racks therein. The reason’s simple - no rich people, no rich people clothes. There are some thrift chains that distribute across a region, rather than store-by-store, and there are always scores available everywhere, but the percentages are best in nice stores in affluent areas.
I ended up with the pile above. The Polo suit is older, probably from the 1980s, made in the USA, in a beautiful gray birdseye. Perfect fit and a very classic style, especially for a big tall guy like myself. I find myself drawn to Polo from the mid-80s and before, when it was inspired by classic styles of the 1930s and ’40s. The better-quality pieces have held up with time, as well. This suit will require a letting out in the waist and taking up in the sleeves and trousers, but both of those are easily done by my tailor. It set me back $40.
I found the pocket squares in the ladies’ scarves section of one of my favorite thrifts. It’s always worth taking a peek there - pocket squares are usually about 15 or 16 inches square, and scarves for women tend to be much larger, so it’s easy to spot the difference. Only one of the ones I picked up had a brand (also Polo), but all are great options, and they were only five bucks each.
The ties came from a Goodwill that’s been very productive for me in the past. The green striped one was the first I found - I spotted its Kiton tag from across the room. The rest are made by Paul Stuart (in England), Facconable (by Breuer, in France), Brooks Brothers Makers and Andrew of Milano. There was another Kiton, stained, that I left on the rack.
The trip represented visits to six stores, and I shopped at two of them. I spent a total of about $75 (plus another $15 on baby clothes, not pictured). Not bad for half a day’s work.

A Good Day’s Thrifting

After working every day for a few weeks straight, I took a few hours yesterday to pursue some hobby time. I hopped in the car and headed for the west side of Los Angeles to do some thrifting.

I live in East LA, where there are plenty of thrift stores, but precious little quality menswear on the racks therein. The reason’s simple - no rich people, no rich people clothes. There are some thrift chains that distribute across a region, rather than store-by-store, and there are always scores available everywhere, but the percentages are best in nice stores in affluent areas.

I ended up with the pile above. The Polo suit is older, probably from the 1980s, made in the USA, in a beautiful gray birdseye. Perfect fit and a very classic style, especially for a big tall guy like myself. I find myself drawn to Polo from the mid-80s and before, when it was inspired by classic styles of the 1930s and ’40s. The better-quality pieces have held up with time, as well. This suit will require a letting out in the waist and taking up in the sleeves and trousers, but both of those are easily done by my tailor. It set me back $40.

I found the pocket squares in the ladies’ scarves section of one of my favorite thrifts. It’s always worth taking a peek there - pocket squares are usually about 15 or 16 inches square, and scarves for women tend to be much larger, so it’s easy to spot the difference. Only one of the ones I picked up had a brand (also Polo), but all are great options, and they were only five bucks each.

The ties came from a Goodwill that’s been very productive for me in the past. The green striped one was the first I found - I spotted its Kiton tag from across the room. The rest are made by Paul Stuart (in England), Facconable (by Breuer, in France), Brooks Brothers Makers and Andrew of Milano. There was another Kiton, stained, that I left on the rack.

The trip represented visits to six stores, and I shopped at two of them. I spent a total of about $75 (plus another $15 on baby clothes, not pictured). Not bad for half a day’s work.

Part II of Jesse’s interview with Raul Ojeda is now up at StyleForum. In it, Jesse talks with Raul about how custom shoes are created and how much he charges for the service. It’s a great read for those who like to know the nitty gritty of how bespoke shoes are made.
In case you missed it, you can catch up on the interview by reading part one here.

Part II of Jesse’s interview with Raul Ojeda is now up at StyleForum. In it, Jesse talks with Raul about how custom shoes are created and how much he charges for the service. It’s a great read for those who like to know the nitty gritty of how bespoke shoes are made.

In case you missed it, you can catch up on the interview by reading part one here.

We’re running an extensive interview I did with Raul Ojeda, the shoemaker from our shoes episode, over on StyleForum. Part one of three is up today.
I’ve become great friends with Raul since I met him while working on that episode, and I’m so impressed with what he and his colleagues are up to at their new venture Don Ville. Raul and company are making fully bespoke shoes on-premises for less than half of what other bespoke makers charge, and the shoes are gorgeous.
I don’t personally know a lot of millionaires, who have a $100,000 laying around in the budget to buy shoes over the next 10 years, because that’s what shoes cost! You know, Europeans, John Lobbs are about $6,000. Our shoes, the most expensive are maybe $2,000, maybe $2,400 when we have to start a last from the very beginning. I really don’t see how you should be paying 3, 4, $5,000 for each pair of shoes. I think you probably wouldn’t even want to wear them. 
We want to offer shoes for the many of us that love and enjoy wearing shoes. That’s the inspiration for this shop. We want to have people come over, get their measurements, and have the shoe that they really want to wear that fits very well.
(Photo by Gordon de los Santos)
Full disclosure, by the way: I mention this in the piece, but when I heard Raul was opening the shop, I talked him into trading some writing on his website for a pair of shoes.

We’re running an extensive interview I did with Raul Ojeda, the shoemaker from our shoes episode, over on StyleForum. Part one of three is up today.

I’ve become great friends with Raul since I met him while working on that episode, and I’m so impressed with what he and his colleagues are up to at their new venture Don Ville. Raul and company are making fully bespoke shoes on-premises for less than half of what other bespoke makers charge, and the shoes are gorgeous.

I don’t personally know a lot of millionaires, who have a $100,000 laying around in the budget to buy shoes over the next 10 years, because that’s what shoes cost! You know, Europeans, John Lobbs are about $6,000. Our shoes, the most expensive are maybe $2,000, maybe $2,400 when we have to start a last from the very beginning. I really don’t see how you should be paying 3, 4, $5,000 for each pair of shoes. I think you probably wouldn’t even want to wear them.

We want to offer shoes for the many of us that love and enjoy wearing shoes. That’s the inspiration for this shop. We want to have people come over, get their measurements, and have the shoe that they really want to wear that fits very well.

(Photo by Gordon de los Santos)

Full disclosure, by the way: I mention this in the piece, but when I heard Raul was opening the shop, I talked him into trading some writing on his website for a pair of shoes.

I just stopped by to visit our old friend Mike Hodis at his new Rising Sun store in Eagle Rock, here in Northeast Los Angeles. They’re having a sample sale today, and I grabbed some of his beautiful jeans for my wife, along with some Christmas gifts for the family. Mike and company will be there until five, and by appointment thereafter, so drop them a line. Their number is 323-982-9798.

How much do I want to buy this taxidermied kudu off of Craigslist?
Very, very much.
Partly, I love the kudu. Partly, I just think this dude deserves my support.

How much do I want to buy this taxidermied kudu off of Craigslist?

Very, very much.

Partly, I love the kudu. Partly, I just think this dude deserves my support.

A Visit to Don Ville

Plenty of readers probably remember our friend Raul Ojeda from our episode about shoes. When we shot the piece, Raul was manager of Willie’s Shoe Service in Hollywood, having accepted the mantel from Willie, who decided to spend his 90s mostly in his native Puebla, in Southern Mexico.

We didn’t tell all of Raul’s story in the video. He fell in love with shoes as a young man, and got into the shoe-shine business out of school. He built up his shine stand into a chain of shine stands which serviced, among other clients, the LAPD, but he wanted to go further. He heard about Willie, the only custom shoe maker in LA, and started showing up at his door, asking to apprentice. Willie had turned down innumerable apprentices in the past, but Raul’s sincerity (and that fact that both had roots in Puebla) convinced him. Willie, by then in his late 80s, wasn’t able to do the quality of work that he wanted to do, and the shop had become mostly a repair and alteration outlet.

Raul worked double time - at the shine stand during the day, and with Willie, nights and weekends - for years. Willie would show Raul a techique, Raul would practice, they’d head off to lunch, they’d come back. Meanwhile, Raul was researching the world of bespoke shoes online - learning about the techniques used by the finest European makers.

Raul’s goal was to open a store that didn’t just make custom shoes, but made real bespoke shoes, that could compete with the fine European makers, but made in Los Angeles for a price that was dramatically less than the firms who cater to people so rich they don’t even look at the numbers on the list.

A few months ago, Raul was offered a spot in a prime block on La Brea in Los Angeles, and he went for it. Believe it or not, Julie Newmar (best known as Catwoman) is his landlord. Within six weeks, he had opened Don Ville, named after his mentor Willie. In front, a showroom and salon. In back, an atelier where the shoes are made by Raul and his small staff. There, he’s making everything from the most conservative black cap-toes to custom metallic-leather spectators.

Raul and I had become pals through the shooting, and he offered me a trade: if I wrote copy for his website (the copy’s not up yet, btw), he’d make me a pair of shoes. English is his second language, after all, and I certainly don’t know how to make shoes for myself. We had complimentary skills.

You can guess what I said to that.

So with some folks from GQ tagging along, I headed over to Don Ville for my first fitting.

Raul and I talked about what kind of shoe I wanted. I’ve been looking for a great black shoe for serious occasions - performances, weddings, business conferences. I decided on an austerity brogue. It’s an unusual style that I find elegant and distinctive, but also sober enough for Serious Stuff. Imagine a wingtip, then remove all of the broguing and edging and other superfluous decoration - that’s an austerity brogue.

Raul started by showing me some lasts. He’ll actually be making a last to the shape of my foot, but he wanted a sense of what shape I wanted the shoe to be. He went back to the workshop and grabbed some scrap leather, and pulled it over his example lasts to give me an idea of what the shoes’ shape would look like when made up. After considering some chisel-toed and pointier shapes, I chose a sleek round-toe model, in the interest of conservatism.

Then Raul set me up to be measured. He first had me stand on an art pad, and traced carefully the shape of my foot. Then he started taking key measurements - the height of my heel, the circumference of my ankle, that sort of thing.

I shared with him some pictures of austerity brogues I like, and he said he’d get to work on some sketches of his own in the style. (Because Don Ville has just opened, Raul is still building up their selection of standard designs.) After a few minutes more chatting with Raul and his staff, we were ready to go.

I’ll return in a couple of weeks to try on a dummy shoe, made of scrap leather on my new last, so we can adjust before the real deal is manufactured. I saw a couple examples - they look like real shoes, frankly. I’ll be send home with one, and instructed to wear it around the house to get a good sense of how it fits. Raul’s even threatening that he’ll make me the guinea pig for a new idea he’s working on, a “glass slipper” - a dummy shoe made of transparent vinyl so he can quite literally see the fit before the “real” shoe is made. Then a few weeks after that, I’ll have my shoes.

Raul’s running a pretty remarkable operation at Don Ville. I’m pretty sure it’s the only storefront dedicated to custom shoes here in the US, and certainly the only one that also makes everything on-premises. Prices are about half of what you’d pay for a traveling European maker - from $750 or so for ready-to-wear to about $2000 for bespoke (including the cost of making a custom last and design). They’re even making some gorgeous women’s shoes, both ready-to-wear and custom.

I left the shop inspired by the possibilities, and by Raul’s passion for footwear. I may not be ready for Raul’s patinated bronze oxfords, but he’s really offering something special. Whether or not you’re thinking about buying custom shoes, the shop’s worth a visit - say hi to Raul for me.

Don Ville Shoes

113 N. La Brea, Los Angeles

323-932-9874

All photos courtesy of Gordon de los Santos

Yesterday, I made a trip out to the Pasadena City College flea market here in Southern California. Above: the spoils from the trip. A small hand-held megaphone advertising the deco-era Los Angeles department store Desmond’s ($10), a silk paisley scarf ($15) and a tiny 1940s silver airplane lapel pin ($5). Not bad for a morning’s idyll.

Yesterday, I made a trip out to the Pasadena City College flea market here in Southern California. Above: the spoils from the trip. A small hand-held megaphone advertising the deco-era Los Angeles department store Desmond’s ($10), a silk paisley scarf ($15) and a tiny 1940s silver airplane lapel pin ($5). Not bad for a morning’s idyll.