Glasses with prescription lenses to help you see better: $100. Custom-made shoes worn by God: priceless.
Photo by Danny Dougherty
At the end of the video for "Miserable," by OC super rock stars Lit, a gigantic Pamela Anderson Lee eats the musicians and then spits out a shoe. Not just any shoe, mind you, but a special shoe. A funky shoe. A shoe you'd be proud to own. A shoe among shoes. A shoe's shoe. A fantastic, awe-inspiring, phenomenal, flame-covered black-and-white shoe belonging in real life to Lit guitarist Jeremy Popoff, who not only has worn these shoes onstage, in posters and across the pages of big glossy magazines, but he also married his longtime girlfriend in them. The groomsmen wore the same shoes, but with the design reversed, all of which were designed by 29-year-old George Esquivel, who has also fashioned shoes for No Doubt, the Reverend Horton Heat, 311, Brian Setzer, Drew Carey, Perry Farrell, Tommy Stinson, Royal Crown Revue, Seth Green, James Karan, Abraham Lincoln and God. Those last two were made up. Esquivel, who has also dabbled in clothing design, heads two lines: the lower-end Joe's Garb, which is flashy and durable and rock-&-roll-inspired, and the higher-end Esquivel, which is dressy and flashy but not quite so flashy and better-quality and really-nice-stuff-inspired. The flame shoes (called "hot rods") worn by Popoff, who owns about eight or nine pairs, are Joe's Garb. The two-tone handmade European calfskin lace ups worn by Tommy Stinson of the new Guns N' Roses? Those are by Esquivel. Joe's Garb shoes cost somewhere between $200 and $300 per pair. Esquivel shoes start at around $350 and go up to a couple of thousand dollars. "Joe's Garb are extroverts' shoes, flashy shoes, very eye-catching. If you wear these onstage, you're going to be noticed by your shoes," says Esquivel, sitting in the living room of the home Anaheim he shares with his wife and two children: Savannah, 5, and Benjamin, 3. "With Joe's Garb, you know what it is right away by looking at it. There are no subtleties. Esquivel's more of a fashion high-end line. The Esquivel is for someone who really appreciates quality craftsmanship. There are little things I'll do like put color lining in the shoe or streak the bottom so it looks like wood or put the person's name in the shoe." Esquivel started designing clothes and shoes for friends about six years ago, and he is unsure about the exact point at which the hobby became a business. He sells his shoes a number of ways. Some pairs of Joe's Garb can be found at Meow in Long Beach. Esquivels are sold by appointment only. He also throws parties he describes as "high-end Tupperware parties for shoes." The newest, coolest things Esquivel has planned is a Web site called designyourshoes.com, where people can design their shoes by choosing from a variety of colors and leathers and so forth, see an image of the shoe they designed, and then order it directly over the Web. The site should be up and running by the time you read this, as should esquivelshoes.com. (Joesgarbshoes.com is already up.) What Esquivel wants to avoid is the store environment where "you're rushed and pressured," he says. "When they're paying that much money, I want people to be sure of what they're getting. I don't want anyone to buy anything unless they're 100 percent sure. I don't want anybody to be unhappy with their shoes." This unbridled, unparalelled love between one man and the shoes he makes is a rare quality in these mass-produced times, but the reason the demand outweighs the supply probably has more to do with the fact that the shoes, as Popoff says, "look killer."
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