Jun 21, 2023

The Best Cobblers in NYC 2022

New York Magazine's own Yellow pages, containing exclusively excellent places.

New York Magazine's own Yellow pages, containing exclusively excellent places.

Cobbler Express and Stanley's Shoe Repair, 1 New York Plz., concourse level; 917-691-7955

"My theory of good cobblers is that they are proximal to workplaces where fine shoes are worn," says Vanity Fair executive editor Claire Howorth, who started going to third-generation cobbler Charlie Colletti when she worked at Time magazine in Brookfield Place. In the eight years since, Colletti has rehabbed everything from Howorth's "slumping snakeskin knee-highs and scuffed Prada platform penny loafers" to the $80 Ferragamos she found on the RealReal and needed stretched half a size. "I’ve been to a lot of cobblers in the past two decades," she says, "and none has been as good or fast or reasonably priced" as Colletti, whose prices start at $15 for a heel or toe reinforcement. "Maybe one of those, but not all three." Recently back in the office, Howorth decided to "zhuzh a ludicrous number of shoes" and took ten pairs to Colletti (who moved to his current location during the pandemic). A week later, he texted her to "bring one of those big canvas bags you always have," so Howorth returned with a boat tote, which she says Colletti "filled with beautiful, shiny, newly wearable shoes."

Hector's Shoe Repair, 11 Greenwich Ave.; 212-727-1237

When shoe designer Nicole Saldaña worked as the head of design at Opening Ceremony, she was tasked with creating a custom look for rapper Mos Def that included a pair of penny loafers redone in stingray leather. "It's very durable, but it has this texture kind of like glass, so it's really hard to stitch," Saldaña says. She took a pair of vintage loafers to Hector's Shoe Repair, which she first stumbled upon 18 years ago as a Parsons student living around the corner, and owners Hector and John Sanchez rebuilt the uppers using the stingray hide Saldaña provided. "It was super-intricate work," she says. "When they were done, it looked like a brand-new shoe." Hector took three days to stitch the loafers (from $85), a quick turnaround Saldaña says is part of the service. "If you give them a timeline, they’ll definitely try to bend over backward to accommodate you." Two years ago, when some boots from her own line came in a few shades lighter than expected, Saldaña took them to Hector's; they returned hand-painted a deep tobacco color in under a week.

East Village Shoe Repair, 1073 Broadway, Bushwick; 347-835-8549

There's a photo of Macaulay Culkin from 2002, around the time he did Party Monster, wearing a towering pair of striped black-and-white "flatform" skate sneakers, and it has "been embedded in my head since the 2010s, thanks to Tumblr," says Michael Butterfield, who works in fashion wholesale and eventually found the same shoes on East Village Shoe Repair's Instagram. After that, he sent a message to cobblers Boris Zuborev and Eugene Finkelberg, who have been making custom platforms since 1994, most recently for Lil’ Kim, who wore a pair of their boots for a Mackage campaign in the fall. (The shop moved to Brooklyn in 2013 but kept its original name.) Butterfield brought in a pair of red Air Jordans and selected pieces of colored EVA foam (black and white, like Culkin's) and his desired height for the finished shoe (4.5 inches). Three days later, Zuborev and Finkelberg had Butterfield's newly striped flatform Jordans ready, for which he paid $225. "All kinds of people come up to me and ask, ‘Where the hell did you get those?’" he says. "I always tell them how comfortable they are."

North 11th Shoe Repair, 103 N. 10th St., Williamsburg; 718-599-7463

A few years ago, editor and creative consultant Lynette Nylander found a pair of Marc Jacobs Pilgrim shoes from 2012 on Poshmark after looking for years. She took them to North 11th Shoe Repair (which, confusingly, sits on North 10th Street) for new soles and mentioned in passing to the owner that she wished the entire shoe were smooth black leather like the original runway pair. (Nylander's came with a panel of ostrich leather.) "When I came back, he was like, ‘Oh hey, I figured out how to switch the leather to the smooth version you liked.’ And he only charged me $50," Nylander says. "It was insane. I don't know how he did it." CC McGurr, owner of Le Grand Strip vintage store, often brings in designer pieces that need restoring before she can sell them and says the same. "I take really good stuff, like shoes that need new polish or the leather color restored, or a Gucci bag that needs the studs replaced," she says. One time, a customer bought a pair of 1960s leather T-strap sandals that broke; McGurr reimbursed them, then sent them to North 11th, "and they were able to completely reconstruct it," she says. "They can really do miracles."

Jim's Shoe Repair, 50 E. 59th St.; 212-355-8259

Dan Quigley first got his shoes shined at Jim's Shoe Repair more than 20 years ago, when he worked the door at shirtmaker Turnbull & Asser in midtown. He currently manages the Armoury suit shop on the Upper East Side and goes to Jim's every two weeks for $8 polishes of his dress shoes and regular upkeep of his white leather sneakers. "The city is filled with good shoeshine spots, but Jim's is my No. 1," says Quigley of the tiny 90-year-old store, which has five chairs, an old brass cash register, and a longtime loyal following. (In January, Jim's will move a few doors down to a bigger space at 60 East 59th.) "At some shine places, it’ll come out too waxy or too creamy, or they won't say anything like, ‘Hey, you should get some new laces,’" he says. "But the same handful of guys have been at Jim's forever, and they’re just masters." For years, Quigley would take lunch breaks there with a friend who managed the Hermès store, and he adds that the rest of the clientele is "a who's who in the clothing and menswear business. Everyone from Bergdorf to all the shops on Madison and Fifth Avenue."

Thank you for subscribing and supporting our journalism. If you prefer to read in print, you can also find this article in the December 19, 2022, issue of New York Magazine.

Want more stories like this one? Subscribe now to support our journalism and get unlimited access to our coverage. If you prefer to read in print, you can also find this article in the December 19, 2022, issue of New York Magazine.

Cobbler Express and Stanley's Shoe Repair Hector's Shoe Repair East Village Shoe Repair North 11th Shoe Repair Jim's Shoe Repair