If the shoe fits: Leffler Bespoke Shoes focuses on leather goods and custom-made footwear
Kevin Leffler knew the instant he took a one-week course on shoemaking that he wanted to get involved in the trade.
“That class set my mind on fire to make shoes — it opened up how much could be created,” Leffler said.
Prior to taking the seven-day workshop in Ashland, Oregon and studying under Bill Shanor, Leffler was a cobbler — someone who specializes in repairing footwear. Now he’s designing and creating luxury shoes.
“That’s the biggest difference between a cobbler and a shoemaker: A cobbler is a person that repairs things. What I’m doing is different — it’s the same background, but now [I’m in] fashion,” Leffler explained.
Roughly five years ago he began his journey into shoemaking in Bozeman, Montana, where he spent approximately one year at Carter’s Boots and Repair, a shop specializing in leather goods. From there he moved to South Lake Tahoe and worked for Randall Tobey of Ye Olde Cobbler Shoppe before holding stints in Colorado, Pennsylvania and the Bay Area — stopping in Lake Tahoe for periods of time in between — before settling in the basin when Tobey offered to sell Leffler his business.
“From each employer I learned something different, and I learned something from everyone — as much as I could in five years,” Leffler said.
In July 2016, the sale was made official and the former Ye Olde Cobbler Shoppe became Leffler Bespoke Shoes & Leather Goods.
Leffler’s shop is focused on men’s fashion, tailoring to customers who want one ensemble — shoes, belt and wallet — to match everything, according to the shoemaker.
“My focus is on classics; things that are timeless in terms of design and style. Everything I make has a function.
“I don’t want to make a product with my name on it that’s walking into a repair shop six months later — nothing mediocre. I thrive on a good challenge,” Leffler noted.
His favorite part about being a shoemaker?
“Making exactly what customers request — really unique, one-of-a-kind items I’ll probably never make again, and it’s just what the customer wants.”
But Leffler has not left his roots — he continues to regularly conduct repairs on customers’ shoes.
Contact Leffler via his website, http://www.kevinleffler.com, to place an order for custom-made shoes, which start at $1,500. Ready-made items, such as belts, wallets and journals, are available in the shop and online.
The turnaround time for custom-made footwear is approximately three months.
Leffler Bespoke Shoes & Leather Goods is located at 3330 Lake Tahoe Blvd. #7.
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