Photography by Trevor Smith

George Esquivel

Designer

| West Hollywood

Sure, he’s turned a vintage alligator bag into shoes for Sly Stallone, and yes, he’s outfitted musicians as diverse as Bruno Mars and Nine Inch Nails, but George Esquivel doesn’t care much for name-dropping or “scenes”— in fact, he’s just about as down-to-earth as they come. He’s the kind of guy that’ll make sure he knows the name of a busboy or invite a crew to dinner post-shoot (as he did after ours), and though he’s probably just sent a pair of saddle shoes to Janelle Monáe (he designed all of the black-and-white styles in her “Tightrope” video), he’ll make you feel as if you’re on his level with one single smile. Esquivel says he drove trucks before his shoes (he was homeless before that), but at 22, a desire to create a pair of punk rock boots led him to a shoemaker and, soon, a deal to take out the trash for shadowing the maker’s craft. Fast-forward several decades and Esquivel was named a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist thanks to his bespoke men’s and women’s wingtips, each of which is made up of a single piece of Italian leather and hand-painted at the finish (a process that takes over 30 hours). It’s no wonder that his collections have been inspired by great architects like Frank Gehry and Egon Schiele— Esquivel approaches his meticulous design process in much the same way. More recently, he’s collaborated with Venice Beach It-guy Nick Fouquet on a limited edition line of shoes, as well as with fashion’s newest darlings, Kris Brock and Laura Vassar of Brock Collection (it’s safe to say his alligator boots stole the show when they hit the label’s runway), but run into Esquivel on the street, and the laid-back king of cool may just invite you over for pizza… Here, he sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal his little black book on LA.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY:  I’m often at my showroom on 3rd Street so I like to support the local shops and restaurants. For a quick bite, I love Plancha (MAP ITx)— their fish tacos are really good.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: My wife and I really enjoy Pizzeria Mozza (MAP ITBOOK ITx)— all of the pizzas are great.

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: I don’t have a favorite drink, but I do enjoy what the guys at The Spare Room (MAP ITx) always come up with.

AFTER-WORK HAPPY HOUR: Typically if it’s an early evening drink, we’ll pop open a bottle of pre-dinner prosecco or champagne at my showroom. Or, one can never go wrong with margaritas at El Carmen (MAP ITx). 

POWER LUNCH: I love going to Freds at Barneys (MAP ITBOOK ITx) in Beverly Hills– sitting outside on the patio for a good meal is a great way to spend a few hours in the middle of the day.

WHERE TO BRING OUT-OF-TOWNERS: LACMA (MAP ITx) for the friend that doesn’t want to do traditional site-seeing, but wants to spend a day seeing beautiful things in great spaces; 3rd Street and La Brea for shopping and eating; and Barneys for one-stop shopping and eating (plus celeb sightings which people from out-of-town love seeing!).

MUSIC PICK: I know a lot of people say this, but I really do love all types of music. The Troubador (MAP ITx) is small and intimate and a great place to see live shows. The Hollywood Bowl (MAP ITx) is also a great way to experience a show.

BEST PEOPLE WATCHING: Venice Beach.

GUILTY PLEASURE: When I need some comfort food, I like Fatburger (MAP ITx). I usually get the double turkey burger and an order of chili cheese fries. Fatburger nights tend to be after a concert… or a very, very long day.

FIRST THING I MISS WHEN I’M AWAY: The weather and the scenery— both are truly magical here. 

REGULAR AT: I’m a regular at most of the places I listed. I’m a creature of habit so I often go to Plancha, Freds at Barneys and Animal (MAP ITBOOK ITx) too– for some of these, there is a general consensus that the place is a great spot; for others, I feel it’s great because of the people and the service that I receive when I’m there.

DATE NIGHT STANDBY: Pizzeria Mozza. The food is really good and my wife loves the prosecco they serve.

KID-FRIENDLY PICK: We all really enjoy Brentwood Country Mart (MAP ITx); it has something for everyone.   

TO SEE AND BE SEEN: Chateau Marmont (MAP ITBOOK ITx) for lunch or brunch.

TO RELAX AND UNWIND: Any good meal [will do], but often dinner with friends is my favorite way to unwind.

GO-TO GETAWAY: It’s not LA, but my wife and I really enjoy going to Santa Barbara and staying at El Capitan Canyon (MAP ITx). It’s a nice way to get away for a few days and feel like you are really far from home. We like to stay in the cabins.

CLOSET CHECK: My personal style is a collection of staples that are worn-in and represent both my SoCal home and all of my travels. I like to wear pieces that are modern takes on classics. For shopping, I like Douglas Fir (MAP ITx) on 3rd Street— they are my go-to for my everything from socks to denim to outwear. I tend not to look for one-of-a-kind pieces; rather, when I find something I like, I buy it in multiples.

FOR HER: On a larger scale, Barneys. On a smaller boutique level, I recommend Noodle Stories (MAP ITx) or OK (MAP ITx).

BEST HOME DÉCOR: Our interior style if very lived in and a bit rustic. We love having people over so the items we have need to be able to stand up to a lot of use. We tend to have things made that fit into our lives— A + R (MAP ITx) is a great store for this.

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: I usually use Pour This (x). When a good bottle won’t do, I pay a visit to A + R or OK.

GROOMING BLACK BOOK: My cousin, Bobby Eliot (x) is a great hairstylist. He used to cut my hair before he got so busy. When he isn’t working with Hollywood starlets, he works out of Salon Benjamin (MAP ITx).

FIT PICK: I like to be outdoors— mountain biking is a favorite past time of mine or biking to the beach near home. Also, I have been meaning to try Angela Davis’ (x) class at SoulCycle West Hollywood (MAP ITx)— a lot of my friends are regulars and they love her class. 

ULTIMATE LA MOMENT: I think the way LA has influenced my designs and business over the years is something that has been very special to live through. CP

George’s LA

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From L to R: First Row: Freds at Barneys; Trinkets from OK; Fatburger; Pour This. Second Row: Installation at LACMA; The Farmshop; Cocktail from The Spare Room; Crudo at Pizzeria Mozza.

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