Del Toro: Miami's Statement Shoes
It’s impossible to walk through Wynwood without being hypnotized by the black and white zebra-striped building on NW 3rd Ave. For a shoe collector, these are the gates of velvet slipper heaven. Inside, you’ll find Miami-based footwear label Del Toro’s array of daring styles. From beaded chukka sneakers to blue suede boots, Del Toro is injecting Italian manufactured shoes with Miami’s bolder-the-better aesthetic. Though the brand’s first big customers included NBA athletes like LeBron James, Del Toro now attracts a wide clientele—including women—who don’t flinch at paying $350 for a pair of show-stopping slippers.
It all started with a Miami kid on the hunt for the perfect shoes. At the time, Torino-born, Miami-raised Matthew Chevallard was graduating high school and looking for bespoke velvet slippers.
“We had been searching for customized slippers to commemorate our high school graduation, but our only option was timely and expensive at $1,000 with a 12-month turnaround,” says Chevallard.
Before even tossing his graduation hat in the air, he founded his shoe company. After starting Del Toro in 2005 with his two high school buddies, Chevallard began studying everything from business administration to foot anatomy at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology to benefit his endeavor.
“Since childhood, my father emphasized the importance of knowing your industry. My lifelong connection to reading meant that I used various fashion publications to stay informed,” he says. “In consideration of both my Italian heritage and its tradition of craftsmanship, I added sneakers and an assortment of classic shoes to our collections and turned the sought-after slipper company into an international luxury lifestyle brand.”
Though LeBron James put Del Toro on the map in 2010, it wasn’t until Chevallard took over the company in 2012 that the business really expanded their reach. Today, he prides the company on offering something for everyone—be it olive suede sneakers with giraffe-printed accents or custom monogrammed shoes. Every pair is handmade on Italy’s Adriatic coast, known as “shoe country,” giving them a quality touch that not many American footwear companies can offer.
“Our consumer is one who appreciates classic footwear silhouettes, but prefers a modern interpretation,” he says. “Our products are categorized as entry-level luxury and are geared predominantly towards millennial men, a quickly enlarging market. However, given our involvement in the athletic and art spheres, our demographic can also include affluent and cosmopolitan men and women, ranging from ages 14 to 80.”
Del Toro recently expanded beyond Miami to open its first store in New York City on Mercer Street. In the pursuit to target more women, the brand has found success with trunk shows and wholesale partnerships with Moda Operandi, Shopbop, and brick and mortar boutiques such as Carpetto Shoes and Bergdorf Goodman. Even so, Del Toro’s Wynwood location still remains to be one of Miami’s top shopping destinations.
“It’s fostered our growth from local to international brand so we feel a community bond with the area and are able to create synergies with its local artists,” says Chevallard, who has collaborated with artists like Rob Pruitt and Miami-based Alexander Mijares.
It’s been more than a decade since Del Toro went from a high schoolers’ dream to a full-fledge business. Today, Chevallard still finds inspiration in the city he calls home, whether he’s dining at Casa Tua or relaxing at Soho House. Just look out for a pair of embroidered slippers. In the city known for old school luxury with a tropical verve, there’s always room for colourful kicks. ■