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Stubbs & Wootton

by Joseph Montebello

Nothing beats an elegant man in black tie and velvet slippers. More than likely those slippers were made by Stubbs & Wootton. Percy Steinhart, the man behind the brand, has taken the category to a whole new level.

Steinhart was born in Cuba, came to the United States when he was ten and attended school in Washington DC. Although he had fantasized about becoming an architect, he went to work at Citicorp in the International Private Banking division. When it became evident that the job required him to be traveling seventy percent of the time, he decided that it was time to reinvent himself.

“I spent a fair amount of time in Palm Beach,” Steinhart said, “and noticed that for evening wear men wore the same black slipper that originated in London. At any one party you saw the same designs -- a fox’s head, a monogram or a coat of arms. I decided to make shoes that were more unique. And thus Stubbs & Wootton was born. And the name?

“I originally wanted to call the business Holden & Caulfield after the Salinger character, but my lawyer discouraged me from doing that. I love sporting paintings and have always admired the works of John Wootton and James Stubbs. So this is my homage to them,” Steinhart explained. “And I love the play on vowels and consonants.”

The first collection included a running fox instead of just the head, fishing flies and monograms. Eventually needlepoint designs were added as well as tapestries, plaids and practically anything that one could imagine.

Stubbs & Wootton has been in business for over twenty years and is now recognized as one of the major players in men’s and women’s casual footwear. While the majority of business is done in velvet slippers, the company has added kitten heels for women, classic leather slip-ons and half-boots for men, as well as espadrilles and needlepoint bags. There are two shops – one in Palm Beach and another in New York City and a strong online presence.

No longer relegated to special occasions, the shoes are now being adopted for street wear as well. It is not unusual to see a nattily dressed man in jeans and a snappy blazer, feet shod in a pair of Stubbs & Wootton slippers. The brand has now been attracting the younger set, thanks to a presence on social media.

“We didn’t invent the velvet slipper, we just gave it new life and some whimsy,” Steinhart said. “You might think twice about buying a pair from Tom Ford or Louboutin at $2000 a pop. But a pair of Stubbs & Wootton won’t break the bank.”

Steinhart is always on the lookout for new ideas to incorporate into his designs and inspiration comes from any number of places.

“I’ll see a certain piece of fabric or an emblem on a sign or some quirky piece of ironwork and I envision it as the focal point of a new shoe. That’s the fun part.” Animals, insects, crests, initials in unique fonts – all become inspiration for Stubbs & Wootton shoes.

Steinhart divides his time between Palm Beach, New York and Connecticut.

“I lived in Litchfield many years ago and always loved it. While with friends a few years ago, I commented that I might like to move here again if the right house came along. Well, it did, so here I am and I'm happy to be back."