Local designer raises the Luxury Sneaker Bar
EVEN THOUGH I’M old enough to remember when the competing Dassler brothers brought Adidas and Puma from Germany to the U.S. in the early 1970s and suburban-not-so-cool enough to recall begging my parents for leather Adidas Superstars to bring to sleep-away camp instead of my no-longer-cool canvas Converse, I actually just purchased a pair of Buscemi 100MM Black Trio for $890 and a pair of special-edition Buscemi Selby for my wife for $1,200! These sneakers, handcrafted in Italy, are wearable, collectible, and/or resalable art, but the real reason for my guilty pleasure is that they’re just-so-darn-cool they make me feel super-cool.
Jon Buscemi, renowned genius in the world of sneaker design and tour de force of his eponymous lifestyle brand, is actually the-epitome-of-cool. The epicenter-of-cool. The you-can’t-spell-cool-without-Buscemi-cool. Even though he looks something like a middle-aged Billy Joel and has similar white, middle-class, Long Island roots, he’s like Paul-Newman-and-Steve-McQueen-or-even-James-Dean-cool. He’s hang-with-KD-and-Rihanna-cool!
Remarkably, although his company is based in L.A., Buscemi keeps a house he calls his “home for frustrated chefs” in Bedford Hills. “I try to spend whatever time I can and usually most of August here, so I can see the friends in the area who were part of the reason for my buying a home here in the first place, and so I can cook plenty of my Long Island Italian recipes,” he explains. “I like to get anything fresh and organic from local sources like Rochambeau Farm. In winter, I like to make some stews and bake some bread and, of course, some pasta, and in summer, I do a lot of vegetables and pasta,” he adds.
The 40-something, former stock broker and skateboarder, notes, “The thing that people always say about how you have to have a passion for what you do? That just wasn’t really a thing with my family or where I grew up.” He then added his truth: “The luckiest thing in my life is that I followed my passion in bringing the street/skateboarder lifestyle into the world of sneakers and design, and as a result, I’m now doing exactly what I love to do.”
Although Buscemi unabashedly says “Ralph Lauren is my idol” and literally has the Polo logo tattooed on his chest (and despite the reality that, at least in some style and fashion circles, Buscemi-cool may be more-cool-than-Polo-cool), the designer almost sheepishly admits that he “just hasn’t figured out a way to approach Lauren yet, and that nothing would be cooler than a collaboration or even a partnership” with our iconic Bedford neighbor.
Beyond growing his footwear, leather goods, and apparel empire, Buscemi is now parlaying his brand with joint ventures and investments in products ranging from Truff, a luxury hot sauce, and Wolves, the first L.A.-produced top-shelf whiskey, to the production of an heirloom marijuana strand dating back to the Romans that’s going to be called “Romagna Fumare.” I’ll bet that Romagna Fumare stuff is going to be great-Caeser’s-ghost-cool.
Even though I am really only now trying-to-fit-my-almost-60-year-old-love-handles-into-my-Polo-skinny-jeans-and-good-thing-I’ve-got-good-hair-cool, I think I might even get the whole Buscemi thing—i.e., why he’s selling some 50,000 pairs a year of this Fabergé-like footwear. Or why when I’m next in Manhattan, I may stop into the Buscemi store at 47 Wooster to see the fall 2018 release of the Brabus Uno low top—which just may be a bargain at $795.
I think it’s that Buscemi is, well, Buscemi-cool. In fact, he’s so-cool, I’ll bet he won’t think I’m a stalker when I bring my Trios to the Inn at Pound Ridge, his favorite local restaurant, and ask him to autograph them.
Imagine—that would be beyond-even-Buscemi-cool!
GILT-Y PLEASURE The iconic Buscemi 100MM high-top sneaker has become a canvas for artist Todd Selby. Artfully constructed with hand painted edges, heel handle, and key clochette, the shoe comes with gold-plated hardware, featuring a belt closure and signature lock engraved by the artist.