John Fluevog, Canadian designer of retro-inspired confections for the feet, is opening a second boutique in Toronto this month in the historic Distillery District. The area, once home to a whiskey-distilling relative of Fluevog’s, is the perfect backdrop for his designs, as the district has the world’s largest preserved collection of Victorian industrial architecture. To commemorate the event, Fluevog has designed two limited edition shoes, the “Gateway Brandenburg” for men and the “Miracle Marvel” for women, which will only be available at his Distillery location.
The man behind 17 Fluevog stores and hundreds of shoe designs, John Fluevog spoke with FLARE about the new location and his design process:
How does it feel to be opening a second store in Toronto?
It’s always nice to spend time in one of my favourite cities, so opening a second store here has been a blast. And as a proud Canadian, Canadian cities are always fun for me!
How does this location differ from other locations?
My first thought was that it’s stunning in here, but as of late, that isn’t different from any of our more recent stores. That’s nice to be able to say. There was a time in my early career where I had to say no to a lot of things I wanted to do with a store, but now I’m really able to explore ideas. But the Distillery is a special place. It has great history…but then so do we, so it’s a great match I think.
Will there be exclusive collections beyond the two Limited Edition men’s and women’s pairs available now?
The truth is, by most standards, all our shoes are limited editions. There will be more in the future, but not likely for this space alone. I would guess there will be shoes that reference the Distillery, but that they’ll be available in the other 16 (soon to be 17) Fluevog stores.
Was the design of these Limited Edition pairs linked to the Distillery location in anyway?
Not beyond the fact that everyone who worked on them knew what they were for. So it was top of mind.
How do you start when it comes to design?
Things just pop in to my mind, I feel blessed that way. I just try to make sure I take the opportunity to write them down when they come.
What do you turn to for inspiration?
Everything around me. I try to try fresh things to keep my mind guessing. It’s all about being open to the ideas as well. I also think things come from within.
How long does it take from first thought to final product?
That depends. Shortest? Six months is very, very fast. Longest? I’m still working on those ones.
What’s next for John Fluevog as a retailer and for you as a designer?
As a retailer, we’ve never had to be on our toes as much as we are these days. Things change so fast, we’ve got to make sure we’re fast as well. We’ve all got a chance to shape our future instead of being dictated by it (although it’s hard to remember that sometimes).
As a designer, as the company grows, I’ve actually had more time to design, spending less time running the company. My son has taken a leadership role and we’ve got such a competent team that it’s really freed up my time to do what I’m best at. The world moves in mysterious ways. Who would have thought one of the biggest distilleries would be home to the world’s greatest shoe store?