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Comfy Velvet


									    Comfy Velvet
                                                   By Jennifer White

    "I HAVE BEEN WEARING SLIPPERSsince I was a teenager," Percy                  "We started making needlepoint slippers," Percy explains. "In
    Steinhart remarks casually.What else would one expect from the          Edwardian England as well as the states, the streets were muddy and
    mastermind behind the exclusive, upscale Stubbs&Wootton, where          dusty, and people didn't wear shoes inside the house. You get home,
    embroidered velvet slippers can have a waiting list of over one year.   take off your booties, and your wifewould needlepoint you slippers,
    After working at a private bank for 15 years, Percy's sharp career      which you wore in the house. So I decided to find needlepoint by
    change was sparked by an increase in job-related travel, and ignited    the yard and made them available for people without the burden of
    by a simple enjoyment of the footwear he began wearing at age 17.       having to hand needlepoint them."
        "I was in Palm Beach one Thanksgiving, and I noticed that                Percy's management       of the company is anything but
    all my friends wore velvet slippers, as we had forever. At the          static. Despite the success of Stubbs&Wootton's            trademark
    time, there were only a couple of places where you could get            needlepoint and velvet slippers, Percy knew staying ahead of
    them off the rack, and the alternative was to get them custom           the times and trends is key. The line expanded to include
    made in England. However, they were all pretty boring - you             wedges forwomen, and the last few years have shown consistent
    have Prince of Wales plumes, a fox head, or a crown - so I              popularity for the brand's espadrilles. The shoes, while not
    decided it was time to make them, and make them more                    the signature items of Stubbs&Wootton,             are nevertheless
    whimsical and more fun," he explains.                                   unmistakable in quality and originality.
        "I spent about a year in Europe getting it together, and                 Another ingredient in the success of Stubbs&Wootton,
    most people didn't get it," he laughs. "I originally was going          Percy feels, is the edginess they bring to a conservative and
    to sell it to people like Brooks Brothers, but they basically           traditional accessory.
    laughed at me, even though they sold one or two of the more                  "I'm working with Geoffrey'S because it is what is happening
    common ones."                                                           with fashion in New York. Velvet slippers are not only for the more
        Eventually, Percy spoke to a close friend who now owns              conservative clientele anymore; we're getting a lot of younger
    Geoffrey's in New York. Intrigued by the idea, Percy was given          customers with our edgier stuff. We do have a very conservative
    a chance, with only one condition: add a women's line.                  product, but we have to be ahead of the next trend," he says.
        After a successful season with buyers at Bergdorf Goodman                His clientele includes a number of well-known names:
    and Neiman Marcus, Percy opened a store off Worth Avenue.               George Bush, Pope John Paul II, Prince Rainier III of Monaco,
    The success that followed his first season in Palm Beach inspired       Princesses Caroline and Stephanie Rainier, Susan Sarandon,
    him to discontinue his wholesale distribution and open a second         Gloria Estefan, Carlos Santana, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie,
    store in a basement in Bridgehampton, which subsequently led to         Oprah Winfrey, and Barbara Walters, to name a few.
    the store in Southampton.                                                    The custom-made designs set the slippers apart from the
        Eventually, Percy was inspired again, this time through a           typical ones found in Harrod's. And Percy is not stopping
    desire for comfort and old-world charm.                                 there. He's already looking for the next trend.         p--<-<¥,

    Photographs   Courtesy of Stubbs&Wootton                                                                                     SOCIAL AFFAIRS    109


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