Cathie Anderson

Cathie Anderson: Sacramento shoemaker to open brick-and-mortar store

Sacramento shoemaker Benjamin Schwartz and his partners already sell their locally produced footwear online, but they plan to open a brick-and-mortar store in the Warehouse Artist Lofts, 1108 R St., later this month.

“With my generation coming up now, they’re really dictating the direction of menswear, and it’s changing,” said Schwartz, the 30-year-old founder and chief executive of Benjamins Shoe Corp. “There’s really this crossover fine and tailored menswear and street-wear, but there aren’t very many shoe brands that cater to that crossover.”

His first shoe, which retails for $189.99 a pair, takes design elements from hand-sewn, leather moccasins and from the Prince Albert slipper.

It took Schwartz years to get here. He’s always been interested in men’s fashion, and seven years ago, while doing some research on the topic, he ran across a book on shoe-making. He studied it and began experimenting with pattern-making. When he ran into trouble, he visited local shoe repair shops for guidance. He finished his first pair of shoes in 2009, but they were a far cry from the elegant-looking footwear he sells today.

“Our soles are shipped up from Brazil,” he said. “We make all the uppers of the shoes....The current fabric that we use comes from Loro Piana in Italy. I worked with them, and they sent over this Storm System water-repellant cashmere that we use. We stitch everything, design them, make all the patterns and still stitch on the soles here.”

Schwartz handles operations, and he has relied on his partners, attorney Jannik Catalano and budget guru Michael Salazar, to help with getting the company’s structure and books on solid ground. They and their investors have financed the company, Schwartz said. The footwear is sold online at benjamins-shoes.com/. Each pair is wrapped in a linen bag and cushioned in a box with shredded, uncirculated U.S. currency.

The new space at the Warehouse Artist Lofts will be part store and part workshop, Schultz said.

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