“The Leatherfoot Emporium started a few years ago, born out of a deeply personal desire to explore fine craftsmanship and a passion for classic menswear” – not a bad motivation any menswear store to take root these days – so says Leatherfoot’s founder, Ideyi Chuku. For those that may not have heard of the place, Leatherfoot is a real one of a kind, arguably the only truly exacting artisanal menswear store in the whole of Canada; it’s a sartorial trail-blazer and one of those few and far between shops which is significant enough to warrant a voyage across the Atlantic all on its own.
Inhabiting an intriguing bay-windowed building, Leatherfoot is situated on Toronto’s leafy, well-to-do Avenue Road, were it in Europe one might mistake it for an historic fortified manor, mullioned windows and all. Step into this substantial store and you’ll be greeted immediately with an intriguing sense of formality, and yet somehow of intimacy too. The store’s high ceilings, exposed arched brickwork, baize doors and rococo ceiling panels feel distinctly traditional and rather grand, yet the deep purple and anthracite painted walls, refined furnishings and crisp, contemporary lighting scheme lend a modern touch that softens the shop’s old-school elements. It’s a synergy that is reflected in everything that Chuku does with his store.
“Leatherfoot is both thoroughly modern and traditional,” he explains. “The latter because of our commitment to quality and craftsmanship – our products represent true old-world handwork and quality of materials. But Leatherfoot is not mired in the past; we harness the elegance and style of sartorial history, to inject some classic style into the modern world. That’s why our role as a traditional gentlemen’s outfitter is so important in this day and age – we believe that men appreciate the perspective and dedication to quality that we represent.” And represent they do – from Edward Green and John Lobb ready-to-wear footwear, through to Matsuda eyewear, exquisite handcrafted leather goods from the beguiling Massachusetts family-run tannery Frank Clegg or hand slip-stitched ties by E.G. Cappelli, curation of product is of paramount importance to Leatherfoot. Chuku continues, “everything we offer is an expression of our perspective on classic style. Cost is not a determining factor – its craftsmanship that’s key. In fact, I believe that our products offer remarkable value because of their quality and make. With each maker, we look closely at their production process and the final product to make sure that we can see a commitment to quality above all else.”
Chuku really does practice what he preaches, because Leatherfoot is one of only a handful of shops left on the planet that functions as an outfitter in the truest sense of the term; offering not only an immaculately curated selection of shoes, ties, hankies and all manner of accessories with which to accent one’s wardrobe, but also playing host to its own in-house bespoke tailor, a rarity nowadays. Trunk shows are also a regular occurrence, allowing the gentlemen of Toronto unprecedented access to the creations of artisans that they otherwise simply wouldn’t be able to get their hands on; whether St Crispin’s shoes, Ambrosi bespoke trousers or even an evening with Hugo Jacomet, it retains a deserved reputation as a sartorial hub at its most vibrant.