BY JOEY SWEENEY
About two years ago, after experiencing General Public’s “Tenderness” as a Proustian madeleine that transported me straight to the St. Joe’s Prep Fall Mixer 1987, it was decided that, for the first time since then, I needed to get myself into a pair of penny loafers. With pennies in them, and perhaps a Benneton sweater to match. I even made a playlist. Days later, my wife produced a perfect, lightly worn, period-perfect pair of Sebago loafers, which I have been wearing into the ground, year-round, ever since. So much so that every nine months, I blow out the soles in exactly the same place, and they have to go in for repair, like an old MG or Volkswagen Karmann Ghia.
And every time they come back from Guaricela’s — a funky old cobbler that feels part junk shop and like it’s been there forever because it has — they look like the photo you see above. They come back so impossibly and impeccably well-cared-for, beautiful in their born-again newness, that I invariably refrain from wearing them for another week or two, so perfect are they in their totemic status. That status, to put a fine point on it, is this: Here is why we still do some things the old way. Craftsmanship matters, even in the seemingly little things, and so does provenance. If anyone could repair these shoes better than Guaricela’s, I frankly don’t even want to know about it. This is enough. This leaves nothing wanting.
Over the years, we’ve conned ourselves into believing that shoes are disposable items. Ultimately, they are, but think of the awful things we’ve done to our feet in the name of immediacy. On their Facebook page, Guaricela’s last post is from November, where they’re hawking a pair of (presumably left-behind) Ivanka Trump boots for $50, which feels like exactly the perfect placement today, knowing what we now know. If one wanted to read into it a lot, you could say it’s a knowing wink. Because the truth is, Guaricela’s has already taught me that the best shoes I will ever own have to go into the shop every so often. How many re-soles do you think those Ivankas are going to stand up to?