At The Cobblers, footwear and handbag restoration is an art form.
Before and after soles on men’s shoes.
Have the red soles of your Louboutins seen better days? Are the heels of your favorite Tod’s wingtips lacking traction? Do you glance at those yellowed Prada sneakers you paid a small fortune for and cringe? The mastermind behind The Cobblers (thecobblers.com), a next-generation shoe and bag repair shop, has some words of wisdom to impart: “There is no such thing as irreparable harm,” says Warren Barthes, who founded the concept in Boca Raton in 2019.
He would know. The man sees hundreds of designer shoes and handbags arrive at his factory in dismal condition and leave a couple of weeks later as if they had only just been purchased.
In a time when sustainability is all the rage in fashion, The Cobblers is as timely a business as any. The venue employs the techniques of old-school shoe repair and improves on them with state-of-the-art techniques and tricks of the trade that are making the place a favorite of the well-heeled set.
A Chanel bag halfway through The Cobblers’ restoration process
A recent visit revealed the staff’s expert approach to everything from a straightforward wash of Balenciaga trainers to a meticulous restoration of a white Valentino handbag that required hours of carefully cleaning the leather around the bag’s signature spikes. Those results are not surprising when you consider the talent behind the scenes. Among those staffers are folks like Jim McFarland, a third-generation cobbler who’s the recipient of the Grand Silver Cup from the Shoe Service Institute of America, the most coveted award in his industry, and Guy Berteau, who travels the world to attend all types of shoe-repair conventions and competitions.
“The staff is like no other I’ve seen, and that’s not just because I work here,” says manager Priscilla Palermo during a tour of the facilities. “So many of our clients start with just one pair of shoes; then, before you know it, they’re bringing in dozens of shoes and bags they didn’t know what to do with, but didn’t want to throw away.”
Another popular service The Cobblers offers is its sneaker customization program. Headed by Derrick Winje, this area of the shop is one of unlimited imagination. In addition to restoring beloved limited-edition Nikes and Adidas, the venue offers a superior level of customization. Canvas from an unwanted Louis Vuitton bag can be stitched to the sides of a new or used sneaker, drawings of everything from Disney characters to political figures can be hand-drawn on a toe cap and much more.
“You can trust us with those pricey AJ1s and your Birkin,” says Barthes. “You name it, we’ve got you covered.”
Photography by: Courtesy of brand