Shoe aficionado John Fluevog was recently in town to formally celebrate the launch of his Larimer Square boutique—the first Colorado brick-and-mortar location (1439 Larimer St., 303-629-8669). Fluevog started selling shoes in Vancouver, British Columbia during the 1960s. By the end of the decade, he opened his first store (with ex-business partner Peter Fox), stocked with turn-of-the-century footwear, and he eventually took over design responsibilities.
His personal aesthetic is a bold mashup of styles, inspired by everything from the Victorian era (hourglass heels, button details) to '70s platforms and '90s creepers. A perfect example is this season’s take on a Fluevog classic: The Original Munster (worn by Madonna in Truth or Dare) has been updated into the Munster Ramona boot ($399, pictured in blue velvet). Although the local store only opened in July, Fluevog says the location has already exceeded company expectations. Here's what else the designer had to say about Denver and his enduring love of footwear.
5280: What made you want to open a store in Denver?
Our Internet sales told us there were lots of fans here. Plus, the line is pretty earthy, which fits in with this city. We’ve been very well received.
5280: How hard is it to get a boutique business up and running in a new city?
I think small entrepreneurs can move into a city and change the culture. For example, I include messages on my shoes to make you dream and think. I put my personality, my opinions, and my values into the product and, in that sense, I can connect and evolve with the culture. Today, small businesses really can find ways to express themselves to an audience.
5280: That’s such a positive take on fashion, which has really become more about personal style.
Individuality is coming back! Big companies, beware. When a blogger can write from anywhere and have a huge influence on the culture, that really changes things.
5280: What about store design? Does each boutique have its own aesthetic?
Yes, all of the stores are designed individually and hopefully reflect the city they’re in. The stores are a focal point for communities. People identify with a brand and gravitate to that place.
5280: That idea seems even more important in the Internet age. People talk about online shopping taking over, but I can't see stores ever going away. You?
All of us in business want to have that human touch. I even have Open Source Footwear as a way for people to get involved with the brand. [Editor's Note: This is a customer-generated shoe design program. The best ideas are produced or used as a basis for another Fluevog style.]
5280: How do you design your collections?
I have a design team, but basically I create what I see in my head. Our Fall 2013 collection is classic with a twist; the shoes all have a little something different going on.
Bonus: To see more of the Fall 2013 collection, view our slideshow of top women’s and men’s styles for the season here.