Renowned shoe designer, George Esquivel, has teamed up with Tommy Hilfiger to create a chic and unique shoe collection for the Tommy Hilfiger brand. The partnership comes to life after Esquivel and Hilfiger met back in 2009 when he was a finalist for the CFDA/ Vogue Fashion Fund. Esquivel, whose family is from Mexico but was raised in California, has been designing footwear for over 10 years with a chic on-the-go style that is fresh and current. Latin Beat sat down with Esquivel during his private launch of the new collection at the Tommy Hilfiger Miami Beach flagship. He opened up to us about his background, his designs, what it means to work alongside Tommy Hilfiger, and what he thinks about the current menswear-inspired trend.
Share a little bit about your background story. How did you get into the shoe making business?
It’s a story of hard work. It’s no different than Tommy’s story. If you look at what Tommy did, he started the same way. He started with a pair of jeans, and then started a store, and he worked his way to get there. We have different backgrounds, as I had my father who was in jail, but it took a lot of hard work and a long time. For me, it started when I had my first pair of shoes made in Mexico. I used to drive a truck at the time and I would stop at every shoe repair, after that first pair, and ask if they knew anyone who would make shoes for me; then, I finally found someone who taught me how to make them, and it took off from there. I fell in love. I was like: wow I can get shoes made? They can be done my way? And I can order them? It was just a super cool feeling. Then learning the craft, working with my hands, been able to have musicians wear my shoes. It was just really cool.
How does it feel when you see someone wear your designs?
To me, I’m blessed that people invest in me. Every time, somebody buys a pair of my shoes I consider that an investment, because they are investing in me and my brand. I feel obligated to always make beautiful shoes. Never go backwards, always go forward. Always, better leather and newer designs, because I owe it to my customers.
What do you think about the menswear inspired trend for women? Does it fit the Esquivel woman?
The Esquivel woman goes with whatever she likes, her inner personality comes out, she has fun with it, and she doesn't take herself too seriously. Is a woman who feels sexy and is confident, and even wearing flats, it comes out and it’s beautiful. My designs are for women who are on-the-go, chasing after the kids or going to work, but that want something a little more special and unique. I think, there is nothing more attractive than a woman who is confident in herself, who can wear flats and still feel great. I just came back from Paris, and it was amazing to see the chic Parisian style, and how they always do it right. You see the girls wearing boyfriend jeans with a button-up shirt or sweater and loafers or penny loafers, and they still look very feminine, or loafers or wingtips with skirts, and it’s great.
What are some of the differences between the George Esquivel brand and the Tommy Hilfiger brand in terms of this collection?
Tommy Hilfiger has always done penny loafers for women, that’s just part of who he is, and it just so happens that it’s also on-trend right now. The preppy-chic style, Tommy has always done it and I have always done it, so it’s nice that it happens to work at the right moment. I think a lot of it; it’s the genius of Tommy. He understands what’s coming next, he is been doing this for so long, he knows what’s happening in the fashion world. I mean, I’m more emotional when it comes to projects because my brand is smaller, and I get to do this or that; but Tommy does something that knows it’s going to work on a bigger scale.
How did this collaboration happen between you and the Tommy Hilfiger brand?
We met back when in 2009 when I was nominated for the CFDA/ Vogue Fashion fund, and then 2011 I was part of the “American in Paris” and Tommy is a sponsor. We talked about fashion and shoes and he ordered a pair of shoes for himself. After that, he ordered a couple more and a pair for his wife, and then he asked me to create some shoes for his fall runway show in New York. Tommy was really happy with the results and he asked me if I wanted to continue collaborating and developing it further. Of course, who’s going to say no to that? What a wonderful opportunity to work with Tommy and learn from him. We started developing the collection from there. Working with him and his teams has been amazing.
Talk to us about the designs you made for this particular collection?
For this collection, we chose a penny loafer and a wingtip for men and women. I took some aspects of Tommy, which are very preppy, classic, modern, and very affordable luxury, I tried to honor that. Then on my part, I tried to take materials that are very Esquivel. Leathers that have some softness and texture, that show the handmade effect. Then we started coloring them, we added layers, and a really unique design came out. Combining the elements, you look at the shoes, and they are very Tommy but also very Esquivel. I think it turned out to be a really good collaboration. Sometimes u see collaborations and u wonder how that come did up or how did they even decide to do it, and in us it was a right fit and you can tell in our collection.