Customizable everything is one of the hottest trends with staying power. Which means that monogramming is back in a big way for men and women. a pair of tailor-made tuxedo slippers or leather loafers is just what the style cognoscenti are adding to their wardrobes these days--and you can meet with one of the bespoke young masters in the industry right here in Sarasota next weekend. In addition to bespoke monogrammed tuxedo loafers, Duende also offer Belgian style loafers, duffle bags, weekenders and stocked tuxedo loafer designs.
You can meet Duende founder Alden Hawkins at T.Georgiano's on March 18 and 20, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. But before you go, get to know Hawkins in this fun Q&A.
Tell us about the meaning of the name Duende.
Duende is a Spanish word that was beloved by a Boston Globe writer in the mid-20th century; it means to have charm, magnetism, and a zest for life. A family close to this writer named a road on Martha’s Vineyard Duende Lane, on which I lived briefly. Our company design office is based in Boston, and our factory is in Spain, so it seemed appropriate to name my business Duende.
What inspired you to create this brand?
I [wanted to create] customized loafers using high-quality craftsmanship that would have durability and longevity. I was tired of paying an inflated amount for shoes to then have them need repairs after only a few weeks of wear, and for styles that couldn’t even be customized.
Tell us about the options for creating custom loafers.
I like to say every option has options. We have more than 50 textiles and more than 30 trims; style options include the monogram, tassel, horse bit and motif. We can do tassels in any of our leathers or suedes, we have four horse bits, and some of the motifs are available in different color options. We have something for every taste level, from the playful (our ‘cannonball’ and splash) to the classic (the camel and croc tassel loafer).
What advice do you give to a client in the design process?
Think about what purpose the shoe will serve. Will you be wearing them with jeans, on the casual end of the spectrum, with more professional attire or to a black-tie event? We have something for everyone and for every occasion.
What do you love about what you do?
I love working with my clients and seeing new combinations emerge to suit their taste. I also love traveling to great places like Sarasota to work with customers to create their own bespoke Duende loafers.