"They'll wear it two, three times, it'll get scratched off again, they'll bring it back and have it re-painted red again so that it always looks new when they wear it." The typical cost for re-painting half soles, according to Mesquita, is around $60.
That may sound expensive, but the investment in Louboutin shoes is nothing to sneeze at: They typically start at a little under $700, climbing upwards of nearly $2,000. And seasoned shoppers know that, like with any big investment, it's important to be proactive about protecting the value of the purchase.
"I think it's very important for your investment if you're spending $500, $600 on a pair of shoes, to spend a fraction of the cost to put a little sole on it just to preserve it, to add longevity to the wear," he adds.
Louboutins have become a specialty at The Leather Spa, which has been in operation for over 30 years. It is co-owned by Mesquita and his father, Carlos Mesquita, who operate the repair facility in Long Island City and four locations throughout Manhattan: At the posh Plaza Hotel, Grand Central Terminal, in midtown and downtown. The company offers services ranging from total shoe repairs to shoe shines, and is well-known for extensive leather repair and care.
The Mesquitas have seen decades of shoe trends come and go: In the '80s, Mesquita says it was all about Manolo Blahniks. After that, Jimmy Choos filled the racks in the factory. Now, Mesquita says Louboutins are having a moment, with musicians like Cardi B rapping about the "bloody soles" and stars like Rihanna showing off the brightly painted red bottoms on the red carpet.
Mesquita says that on average, The Leather Spa repairs anywhere between 400 to 1,000 pairs of Louboutins a month, depending on the season. (Using the brand's iconic, Pigalle black patent leather stiletto as an example, priced at $695, that could mean $695,000 worth of shoes or more a month.) The busiest times being between March to June and then again from September to December. The heels hail from all over the world, and customers ship them in from places like Hong Kong, South Africa, France, England Mongolia, Peru, Chile, Columbia and Venezuela.
"We actually even got a pair of Louboutins from Alaska," Mesquita says. "We were questioning ourselves like, 'Where does she wear these?' But hey, good for her."
And recently, "there's been an influx in shoes getting stuck in escalators," Mesquita says, adding that customers will send them pictures of such disasters. "There was a woman from Vegas, and the picture came in at 1 o'clock in the morning, and she was like, 'oh my God I'm freaking out, can you fix this?' And she's emailing us as it happened, when the shoe got stuck in the escalator."
Mesquita even has customers who only own Louboutins, he says. "We have a particular customer who flies in from Dubai, and she always brings us a suitcase, and they're all brand new Louboutins. We do the little rubber soles...she's always in town for about a week, so she brings them in when she arrives, we do all the little protection shields for her, wrap them back up in her suitcase, she picks them up and flies back home."