Meet the Man Behind Fashion Insiders' Favorite New Shoes
One peek at the Instagram feed for Julio Chavez's line of shoes (and the occasional accessory), Solid State Studios, and you'll already understand so much about his handmade process — the transparency of which is both refreshing and fascinating to see — and the man himself, whose hands you'll often catch in the shots, handling his beautifully crafted slip-ons and slides. Shoes which, by the way, are being worn by some of the most stylish women around (bloggers Melissa Sonico and Erin Hagstrom, and vintage goddess Toni Walker among them), and Chavez is just getting started.
The Santa Cruz native, who had been working in product design, began creating custom-made shoes just two years ago in Chicago after taking two short courses. Needless to say, he had a knack for it and after running his humble business in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood for nearly that long, he's back in the Golden State. While you can still find limited runs of his shoes in Silver Lake's LACAUSA (among a few other chic stores in the US), Chavez now has a space in Chinatown's Mandarin Plaza where you can order a custom pair all your own.
I visited Julio in his new space — where he gets to call bfgf studio mates and Tuesday Bassen's Friend Mart and Building Block neighbors — to chat about how he's inspired by the ladies in his life, what he loves about that California life, and how his brand keeps evolving.
What have you missed most about the West Coast?
The weather. I need the all the sun in the world to brighten my days.
You're refreshingly transparent about your handmade process on Insta. Is that a conscious move or just who you are?
I'm just documenting the process for reference but also I feel the followers are really interested in knowing more about how shoes are made.
Though you've been in product design for a while, shoes are relatively a new endeavor for you. Does is seem like a natural fit (no pun intended)?
Yeah, It's hard to explain. I'll be two years in this month and I'm still learning but there are moments where I get lost in making and then voila! I dream about problems I come across and I'm making shoes in my dreams. It sounds crazy but that's how it goes.
Your shoes are named after women in your life. How do the creative ladies in your circle inspire you?
All I can say to you is that women are my everything.
How is your work evolving?
I would say it's definitely cleaner. The shoes aren't so raw now. I have a small catalogue so I'm making two designs over and over and can see where changes need to be made.
When you're not building sandals, slides, and slip-ons, what are you doing?
You'll find me trying to catch up on some much needed sleep or listening to records and dreaming of simpler times.