Raúl Ojeda Launches Don Ville Shoes on La Brea; Los Angeles’ Bespoke Scene Gains Premier Custom Shoe Shop

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Ojeda Transitions to "Don Ville" from Hollywood Institution, “Willie’s Shoe Service”, with Plans to Educate Fashionable Masses about Importance of High-Quality, Hand-Made Shoes and Proper Shoe Care

We recognize the importance and value of treating ourselves well when we spend the money to dine at high-end restaurants...but we don't recognize how a good, custom-made pair of shoes and tailor-made clothes are similarly valuable investments in ourselves

Los Angeles’ bespoke scene is gaining momentum with the addition of new La Brea shoe emporium, Don Ville (http://www.donville.com). Don Ville marks the third shoe-related business for Raúl Ojeda, who most recently hails from the Hollywood studios shoe institution, Willie’s Shoe Service (http://www.williesshoeservice.com). At Don Ville, Ojeda provides three layers of Don Ville shoe options, giving clients a wide range of choice, individuality and comfort: Full Bespoke pairs, Made-To-Measure, and Ready-To-Wear, the last of which will launch in late-September. Don Ville’s 1,700 s.f. space includes an on-site workshop and retail showroom.

Don Ville, which officially opened on July 23, 2011, will also serve as an educational platform for Ojeda, who intends to share his extensive proficiency in the importance of high-quality, hand-made shoes and proper shoe maintenance, with today’s modern audience.

“At one point in time, everything was tailor-made…our clothes, our shoes. People understood the importance of investing in a quality item that was uniquely their own. This is now a foreign notion, to younger generations in particular. We’ll pay hundreds of dollars each year for the newest cell phones, but won’t spend more than $80.00 on a pair of shoes that essentially, carry you through your days…through life,” says Raúl Ojeda, of both Don Ville Shoes and Willie’s Shoe Service fame, the latter of which celebrates its 55th birthday, this year.

Ojeda continues, "We recognize the importance and value of treating ourselves well, when we spend the money to dine at high-end restaurants that serve inventive, healthy and fresh fare...but as a whole, we don't recognize how a good, custom-made pair of shoes and tailor-made clothes are similarly valuable investments in ourselves and our comfort."

Ojeda has trade craftsmanship in his blood – both of his parents worked in the garment industry in Downtown Los Angeles – but his fascination for the shoe business didn’t quite ignite, until after he had owned his first shoe venture for a handful of years.

“When I went sneaker shopping as a kid, I remember looking at many pairs, never finding quite what I wanted. I always wanted some part of each model to be a bit different. But I never really imagined that I would be creating those differences in shoes, later in life,” says Ojeda.

In 2001, Ojeda opened “Stop N’ Shine”, a shoe-shine stand in the Westfield Century City Shopping Mall. The business was just a means to an end for Ojeda, whose pride was in owning a business, not necessarily in the craft of caring for shoes. As Ojeda worked on more and more clients’ shoes he began to take notice of the different styles, the varying qualities, and the associated pricing that changed as the quality changed.

The shoe shining business grew, Ojeda hired more staff, and they segued into shoe repair, out-sourcing the repair-work to Willie’s Shoe Service in Hollywood. It was not until Ojeda met Willie’s founder, Willebaldo Rivera, that Ojeda’s interest in shoes really started to grow. In 2004, Ojeda moved over to Willie’s to begin his education in shoe-making, with Rivera at the lead.

In 2007, Rivera decided that it was time to exit the business, entrusting Willie’s to Ojeda, whose style and customer care was in-line with Willie’s reputation and Hollywood history, much of which was built catering to studio execs, costumers and celebrities. Ojeda grew Willie’s custom shoe-making line of business to the point that he felt a new branch was needed – a shop dedicated to shoe-making. Enter Don Ville.

Ojeda’s styles at Don Ville have classic roots, with his own, modern touches. Each style is almost timeless and seasonless, although Ojeda does pick materials according to seasonal trends followed by his material sources. Ojeda makes every effort to source American-produced materials first, while the remainder of his materials are from Europe.

Ojeda takes the same care with his businesses as he does with his shoe-making. It was tough for Ojeda to separate from Willie’s to start Don Ville, and he did not attempt to do so until he had a good friend in place at Willie’s helm. Ojeda relies on those closest to him to carry on the traditions that he has furthered and continues to amend. Ojeda’s brother bought his shoe-shine business a couple of years ago, and is currently a shoe-making apprentice at Don Ville.

Ojeda realizes that with bespoke work, there comes some education. Future plans for Don Ville include seminars and events aimed at imparting proper shoe care knowledge, as well as the importance of investing in a high-quality, hand-made product, as opposed to mass produced versions. Ojeda also has plans in place to take his “shoe platform”, aka “Traveling Shoe-Maker”, on the road, traveling to various U.S. cities to educate and spread his craftsmanship and collections. First in line is New York City, where Ojeda has already secured a representative for Don Ville.

Don Ville’s Ready-To-Wear Collection of shoes will include classic styles for both men and women, such as ladies oxfords and sandals, and for men, boots with rubber soles, cap-toes, wing-tips, and the male version of the oxford. Retail pricing on some of the Ready-To-Wear models will start at $275.00, and move up the pricing scale.

The Ready-To-Wear Collection leads to the next tier, which is Don Ville’s custom-fit or Made-To-Measure Collection. This Collection allows clients to make custom adjustments in fit or detail to existing Ready-To-Wear styles, based on “how” they wear their shoes. Don Ville’s Made-To-Measure services start at $275.00, in addition to the purchase of the Ready-To-Wear shoes of choice.

The third tier, Don Ville’s Full Bespoke service, includes a complete evaluation of clients’ walking patterns and lifestyle, as well as their foot measurements. The process, from initial consultation to bringing home a custom-made pair of shoes, can take up to 12 weeks, and involves at least two fittings.

Ojeda adds, “I’ve learned from shoe-makers from all over the world, which allows me to mix and match techniques to create the best, most functional and distinctive products possible.”

Don Ville Shoes is located at 113 N. La Brea Avenue (between 1st Street and Beverly Boulevard), Los Angeles, CA 90036. Don Ville is open Monday through Saturday, from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM, and Sunday, from 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM. Appointments are highly recommended. To reach the shop directly, please call Don Ville at 323.932.9874. For more information about the shop, please call Anna Ferguson, Stiletto Marketing, at 1.877.327.2656. Information is also available via the shop’s web site, http://www.donville.com, and Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/donvilleshoes.


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