Over the past decade, what started as a bespoke footwear concept in a temporary shop in Zurich has grown into a global business with three permanent stores in Switzerland and a new flagship location in the U.S. Officially unveiled in November, Le Majordome (French for “the butler”), founded by Gian-Luca Cavigelli, opened its first North American store in New York City at 485 Madison Avenue.
The outpost is led by Cavigelli’s childhood friend and the company’s co-owner and North American president Daniel Bucheli. This new flagship joins the brand’s other Swiss locations in Zurich, Lausanne, and Bern.
Le Majordome’s newest retail location features a minimal and raw design aesthetic that makes the space feel more like an artisanal workshop than a traditional luxury shoe store. This design was achieved intentionally through the use of concrete floors, metal pipe details, and raw wood displays that contrast with antique wooden furniture and modern studio lighting. In the corner, a functional workbench reminds the shopper that this is not just a shopping destination, but a working atelier where the team spends time perfecting every pair of shoes before they go home with their new owner.
“Opening a store in Manhattan has been a dream for our company for many years,” Bucheli tells FN. “The turmoil that the pandemic brought to the world over the past year has made all of highly aware of how fleeting time and life itself can be – and that there’s no time like the present to actively pursue your dreams. We strongly believe in the New York retail market and are excited to be a part of its recovery post-lockdowns.”
“We looked at almost 50 different locations in SoHo, Nolita, along Bleecker Street, TriBaCa, Upper East Side and Midtown,” Bucheli discloses. “Eventually we made the decision for Madison Avenue for two reasons – the overall vibe of the space and the ability to define who we are and want to be as we grow our business.”
Much like the footwear brand’s European stores, the fourth location for the label offers a personalized experience, where shoppers can create made-to-order shoes or browse a selection of seasonally updated ready-to-wear styles. What makes this store experience unique is the fit and customization process a customer goes through when placing a made-to-order shoe.
Once the visual design direction of the desired shoe is decided, the customer’s feet are measured with a 2-D scanner, which happens to be standardly used in the orthopedic field. Based on the scan result, the brand then takes a selection of trial shoes from its vast library of lasts that may fit the customer’s feet. “The fine-tuning happens with these trial shoes the customer tries on,” says Bucheli. “Shoe-sizing is not an exact science: two people with the same feet don’t necessarily prefer the same length or width. So, we take into account the objective part with the scanner, and the individual preference with the trail shoes.”
This information is then stored in the brand’s database, and from there, the customer can create his own personalized shoes time and time again. Interestingly, over the course of the past decade, Le Majodome has created an extensive library of options including a choice of 60 models, three toe shapes, more than 100 leathers and 15 different sole constructions.
Along with the made-to-order service, the brand’s autumn/winter 2021 ready-to-wear collection is available both in-store and online at lemajordome.com.
An offering of re-imagined classic styles as well as more fashion-forward shapes rounds out a collection that provides a shoe for just about every occasion. All Le Majordome shoes are crafted in Spain utilizing Goodyear welted construction. In addition to the core collection, standout styles from the made-to-order offering include a sleek yet functional galosh loafer, a multi-leather Chelsea boot, and a classic English-inspired lace-up Derby Boot. While the core collection is available for immediate purchase, each style within the offering can be made-to-order to satisfy one’s personal preference when it comes to materials, colors, and other design details – a process that takes 10 weeks from design to delivery.
Looking ahead, Bucheli noted that the brand aims to establish its new store as the “go-to location in New York for shoe-lovers and fashion shoppers looking for quality footwear alike.” Bucheli also hopes to do the same for the brand itself. “When we just had our three stores in Switzerland, I think we were simply considered a local/national brand. With the opening of the store on Madison Avenue, we want to send out the message that we have higher aspirations of becoming an internationally recognized brand.”