The smell hits first as you descend the short flight of steps into the basement. It’s sharp and overpowering; a mix of rubber and old leather. This is where old shoes go to be reborn.
The basement workshop in Tamas “Zen” Pomazi’s Waconia home is filled with shoes: Red Wing work boots, wingtips and loafers overflow the shelf space and sprawl across the floor.
Each aging shoe will go through the same process — Pomazi pulls them apart, then stitches them back together, and finally, outfits the bottom with an eye-popping custom-colored sole.
“I take what is destitute, obsolete and not wearable — and make it wearable,” said Pomazi, 43, whose customers often bring him shoes passed down to them by their fathers or grandfathers.
By the time GQ and Esquire began calling colored soles a trend to watch last year, Pomazi had firmly established himself as the color-obsessed cobbler of the Twin Cities. He sets himself apart by bringing old-world craftsmanship to an industry filled with disposable fast fashion. Yet like the shoes he customizes, the brash, New York-born shoemaker went through his own process of rebirth. He ran afoul of the law as a young man, but now spends his days outfitting groomed professionals who want to rethink classic footwear. Read more