Suarte: The Bespoke Shoe Revolution
Written by: Kwesi Adjin Photography by: Ben Ferrari

Suarte brings to NYC from Korea meticulous bespoke craftsmanship and a wide variety of sophistication, all embedded in amazing shoes.  Suarte’s first shop out of Korea is located at 818 Third Ave (@ 50th Street) and it aims to disrupt the way you buy shoes.  The beautiful store layout and attractive shoe samples give potential buyers a glimpse into their future style.  The variety is dizzying and the warmth of the staff is palpable as they walk you through the hundreds of variations available for order.  We were able to steal some time from the busy schedule of Saerome Bae Parish (Suarte’s Regional CEO – North American Region) to add some color to the very real Korean style invasion.  See the very informative interview below.

“Our bespoke model allows our clients to create one of a kind shoes ………”

Please give us some background on and philosophy behind Suarte, the company and the brand?

The founder and CEO, SangJin Lee was a law student in Seoul, Korea when he founded Suarte about three years ago. He saw a niche market in the shoe industry to provide high quality custom handmade shoes at a competitive price. The philosophy can be summarized in the phrase “Suarte never compromises with reality”, which means we would not use cheap materials even if we had to cut the margin significantly. 

Could you elaborate on what makes the Suarte brand different from the numerous other shoe brand’s out there?

Custom! – Handmade by SUARTE’s very own Artisan Shoemakers, with only top quality materials, at a fraction of what other custom shoe makers charge.

The bespoke model is becoming more prevalent across men’s apparel, could you delve deeper into Suarte’s craftsmanship (including source of raw materials, craftsman, etc.)?

Again, all our shoes are made with top quality materials by artisan shoemakers. Our bespoke model allows our clients to create a one of a kind pair of shoes. They can design their own shoes, although most people get ideas from our extensive floor samples but still change the type of leather, color, sole type, sole color, thread color, inner lining color, monogram choices and designs. They fit a lot better than any ready-made shoes because we make them to measure.

What is Suarte’s global footprint and what is the ultimate goal for expansion? Do you plan more shops in NYC/USA?

We are planning to go into China and Japan. Eventually, we would like to be in every big city in the world, and it started in NYC. We plan on opening the second location in Manhattan by the end of this year. Fingers crossed!

Who is Suarte’s target customer age, socio-economic, lifestyle, etc.?

Anybody who cares about shoes – For some, it may be comfortable sizing, for others, it may be style, but once you get used to SUARTE, you will always look for both comfort and style.

Do you present your shoe designs in collections?  If so, what collection is currently being displayed and what is unique about it?

We don’t. There are so many timeless pieces and unique shoes that we don’t consider ourselves very trend-centered.

What shoe varieties can a customer expect to find at your store?

Brogues, loafers, driving shoes, sneakers, monks, boots, that can be made with premium Italian calf skins, rubber soles, leather soles, hand-sewn welts, Vibram soles, denim looking calf skins, camouflage calf skins, rainbow selections of suede, waterproof German suede, and specialty skins such as crocodile, ostrich, python, eel, etc. 

Has any particular style of shoe been the most popular?

New York is so great in that regard. Nobody has the same taste. But the most popular items have been monks, loafers, and classic brogues. Since fall is approaching, people are showing interest in boots as well.

Your store is absolutely gorgeous, but there are not too many shoe shops or boutiques on 3rd Ave in New York, what drew you to this location versus other possible locations?

This is part of our strategy. We want to keep the prices as low as possible so many more people can afford high quality custom handmade shoes. By choosing the current location, we were able to lower the overhead costs significantly. Another reason is we would like to be where there are lots of offices, so we can be close to our clients.

In your opinion (or Suarte’s opinion), what attributes (tangible or intangible) do you think define a man?

Awesome shoes, of course! LOL.  JK – We think being true to himself defines a man. We want to help all men to be original by offering an opportunity to create a one of a kind pair of shoes – just for him.

How can people keep up with upcoming collections and developments at Suarte?

Our website is under construction. However, you can follow us on our Facebook and Instagram

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