World Class Service, Old World Quality
As I was wrenching on the Defender 90 last night, installing a Mantec swing out tire carrier, with my friend and fellow Defender enthusiast, Barry Fein, Barry was lamenting the lack of high quality customer service and attention to detail with most of the vendors we deal with–truth be told Barry was doing most of the work, I was assisting, and admiring his skills. Barry has both a beautiful ’94 defender 90, blue, and my desired ’93 Defender 110.
Since I had time to think, while Barry was torquing, I realized he was right, service industry pride is generally lacking and in LA, while most are doing service work, as a holding pattern for what they really want to do, the customer suffers. Since the experience is rare, great service and excellent work is a luxury worth paying for.
I was introduced to Los Angeles’ Pasquale Shoe Repair by a friend, after being tooled by Beverly Hiils renowned Arturo’s—expensive, cash only, kinda rude, and not exceptional work. When you pull up to Pasquale-land, you’ve entered a Vegas-like (think Bellagio) plaza, with a cool little café, serving excellent food, they now have pizza, and an active juicer, with my favorite—orange, ginger, carrot. Mr. Fabrizio Pasquale, rules the café, while his lovely and charming wife and staff man the shoe repair. This is a whole building, not a space in a strip mall, they have their own parking—reason enough to avoid Beverly Hills and there’s easy in/out off of San Vicente.
The real magic happens inside, service is exceptional, and the work unmatched. I’m not super hard on my shoes, but I am particular about a good shine. I’m partial to Shell Cordovan shoes, and they are notoriously hard to shine…Too much polish and they’re a mess, too much wax and they’re dull. They only require a couple shines a year at most, and Pasquale’s knows how to do it right..For a very reasonable $8, often while you wait. I wear J.M. Weston shoes, and a couple of the models come with the customary Weston steel heel and toe cleats. Not only are they loud, they’re dangerous. Although considered blasphemous by some, I’ve had Pasquale’s remove these, replacing them with rubber and they came back with a factory look, only quieter and safer.
It may sound crazy, but Ron Rider who manufactures beautiful chukka boots in Italy, selectively will do antiquing work on bench made shoes, giving them a patina that I certainly could never achieve on my own, and that may be the coolest service in the country. I’ve had Ron antique some brown Borrelli Wholecuts, and a couple of pair of Lobb Prestige monkstraps. And a pair of Lobb Williams. Here’s a link from styleforum of his work in progress.
What really impresses me abut Pasquale’s work is that they’ll take the mundane project and do an truly amazing job. An old beat up, too beat up, Filson Medium Field bag needed to be cleaned, but I wanted to maintain the original patina—no problem, perfect results. Think new life for the eBay purchases that arrive disappointing.
But, I need to dedicate a paragraph to Pasquale’s Topy work. Topy is an ultradurable thin rubber sole that you affix to new shoes, they keep the soles perfect. Many shoe nuts think this is heresy, but it makes sense to me, particularly on fragile Lobbs and shoes that you want to have a waterproof sole, but without a rubber lug sole. While some may think that Topy’ing is a mundane service provided by any shoe repair shop, you haven’t seen Pasquale’s work. They actually rout the sole, so that the Topy’s edge is flush with the leather, super clean, and will never peel. They also have been able to match the contour of the beveled waist on Lobb Prestige models, and have used either Brown or black depending on the shoe. I saw a pair of Pasquale Topy’d Christian Louboutin delicate ladies sling backs last week. “Loubies” are known for their red sole, and this lovely pair had a red Topy to match…How cool is that? Pasquale’s was voted the “Best in the World” by W Magazine, and I have to agree.